Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) are supported by the local groups who are sponsoring them. The sponsorship group is responsible for welcoming the refugee family at the airport, providing housing, clothing, furniture, financial assistance and emotional and social supports for one full year. This is a contractual agreement with the federal government. The sponsoring group must be screened, must prove that they have sufficient resources to support the individual refugee or family and must also provide a detailed settlement plan for how they will assist the refugee family settle and integrate into their new community.

Sponsorship groups are often faith-based but don't need to be. Community members can also come together to privately sponsor a refugee or refugee family.

The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) is the most important resource for anyone interested in privately sponsoring a refugee. The RSTP is a program designed to support the Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) of Canada and their constituent groups. It is funded by the federal government.

Unlike PSRs, Government Assisted Refugees (also called GARs) do not have local community support to help them settle in Canada. They receive assistance directly from the federal government for the first year that they are in Canada. This assistance is equivalent to the level of social assistance provided in the province in which the refugees live. Refugees, like other newcomers to Canada, are also eligible to receive settlement services like community orientation, language assessments, language classes, job-seeking help and short-term/crisis counselling. For more information, visit the IRCC website.  

It is important to remember, that all refugees are eligible for settlement services. It is critically important that the sponsorship group get in touch with local settlement supports to ensure that the families and sponsors are getting the best help they can get as they settle. For more information, contact the Welcome Centre Immigrant Services.

For more information on the federal PSR program, as well as how this differs from the program for government assisted refugees, visit the IRCC website.

Local resources to learn more about supporting refugees

Welcome Centres in Durham are one of the best sources of support to the refugee families coming to Durham Region, through the staff and programs at the Welcome Centres and through the SWIS program.

Durham Community Legal Clinic provides services to refugees.

Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) provides information, resources, statistics, news and links about refugee programs, policies and trends in Canada.

The Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT) is a non-profit organization founded by several Toronto doctors, lawyers and social service professionals. CCVT is a non-profit, registered charitable organization which helps survivors to overcome the lasting effects of torture and war.

Settlement.Org provides newcomers with information and resources to settle in Ontario, Canada. The site is managed by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) and is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

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