Dear Archbishop Miller,
Today I write to you in observance of the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
In my capacities as Member of Parliament for Vancouver-East, the NDP Critic for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, and the Vice-Chair for the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, the issues, hardships, and success stories of refugees are incredibly important to me. I have had the opportunity to work with and advocate for refugee sponsorship groups and resettlement organizations in Vancouver to ensure that refugees arriving in Canada receive a warm welcome and can access the services they need to settle and thrive in their new home. I have also had many opportunities to meet with and do what I can to assist in that process with refugees to our community themselves. It has been an incredible experience, and the outpouring of support by our community during the Syrian refugee initiative was truly heartwarming.
The themes selected by Pope Francis this year, “Welcoming, Protecting, Promoting, and Integrating”, are ones I wholeheartedly support and believe are very timely messages. Throughout much of the developed world, we have recently seen a troubling shift away from these themes. To that end, Canada has thus far been a welcomed outlier, and I believe it is the job of all us to do our part to ensure we remain that way.
Globally, we are facing a migrant crisis that has not been seen since World War II. War, Persecution, Natural Disasters, and Poverty has resulted in the forced displacement of an estimated 65 million people. Nations and individuals with the means to do so can and should help those fleeing these desperate situations and provide them the supports needed to reach their full potential. Canada has long been a nation that has gone above and beyond in this respect, and it is a tradition that I will tirelessly advocate we continue.
However, we must ensure that we as individuals, communities, and as a nation follow through on all of the themes present in this years’ World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Underfunding of resettlement services, a lack of affordable housing, application backlogs and other hurdles remain in Canada and negatively impact refugee newcomers to Canada in their pursuit of security, happiness, and success. We cannot rest on our laurels, but instead must continue to be advocates for Canada to do more.
I have long advocated for Canada to eliminate the cap on private sponsorships of refugees, and have called on the government to change its course regarding its cutting back of government assisted refugee intake. Additionally, I have been an outspoken critic of the shortcomings of our immigration system regarding processing delays and backlogs; as well as strongly advocating we do more to ensure newcomers to Canada have access to all the supports and services they need to successfully integrate. Rest assured, I will continue this work in the coming years.
Today is a day for your Parish and for your brothers and sisters around the world to reflect on your successes and achievements, and to identify ways that you can continue your work and accomplish even more. I thank you for your service, and hope that I have the opportunity to work with you on these issues in near future.
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