UPDATED ORAT Action Plan in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
In response to the extraordinary step taken by the Premier of Ontario to declare a State of Emergency, we have taken the following steps to help contain the spread of COVID-19:
1. Office Closure: The office is closed to staff and visitors until further notice. However, while the office remains closed to staff and visitors, the important work of this office continues. Staff are working off-site and are accessible by phone and email. General enquiries related to refugee sponsorship or case updates should be directed to (416) 934-3400, x804, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. No In-Person Information Sessions: Until further notice, the office will not be holding in-person information sessions. Instead, we are offering information sessions via a live on-line webinar format. Users will require a computer/smartphone/tablet and internet to be able to access these on-line sessions. Join this live interactive format and have your questions answered. Registration for these events can be completed through ORAT's Eventbrite page. Registrants will be provided a confirmation link that allows them to join the webinar 48 hours in advance of the webinar start time
While challenging days lay ahead, it is our hope and prayer that the steps taken will contribute in some small way to mitigating the spread of this virus.
Update on Canada's Response to COVID-19
The Prime Minister announced that Canada will bar entry to all foreign travellers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, with certain exceptions. IRCC is working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to cancel all refugee arrivals in March and April.
Individual notices on flight cancellations are being sent via email over the coming days. The Resettlement Operations Centre – Ottawa (ROC-O) will contact you directly if the refugees you are preparing to receive will not be travelling. However, a limited number of refugees are already in transit and will arrive on March 17 and 18, 2020. Please note that there will be no additional arrivals or new flight bookings after these dates until further notice.
Per the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada all international travelers arriving in Canada are to follow the guidance published by the Public Health Agency of Canada to:
If they develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days:
Resettlement Assistance Provider Service Provider Organizations and sponsors are advised to assist refugees in seeking and explaining the appropriate services available to them if they develop symptoms.
For questions on Canada's response to COVID-19, please refer to the primary authoritative source of information for all Canadians at the website Canada.ca/coronavirus as well as the COVID-19 Information Line at 1-833-784-4397.
ORAT Action Plan in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
In response to the evolving coronavirus situation and out of an abundance of caution, we will be taking the following steps to minimize the transmission of the virus:
Should the cheque request not be received in a timely fashion, resulting in insufficient time to process and mail the cheque, we will ask that you arrange for a courier pick-up. To arrange a courier pick-up, please contact any of the couriers listed below:
DHL: Call 1-855-345-7447, then press 1 for pickup;
FedEx: Call 1-800-463-3339, then follow the voice prompts; or
UPS: Call 1-800-742-5877, then press 1 for pickup.
You will notice that the cheque request form has changed, requiring some specific funding information to be included. This change was necessary to ensure that funding is in-line with Immigration Canada requirements. The information needed to complete the form can be obtained by using the Budget Workbook that we have developed. Please click on the following link to access this document Budget Workbook.
ORAT and CRSC's Continued Advocacy Efforts:
Deacon Rudy Ovcjak from the Archdiocese of Toronto's Office for Refugees (ORAT), along with Brian Dwyer and Rabea Allos of the Catholic Refugees Sponsorship Council (CRSC) met with the Honourable Peter Kent, Member of Parliament for Thornhill and the Conservative Immigration Critic, to discuss the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program in Canada. A very productive meeting.
Wishing all Christians a blessed and fruitful Lent. May it be a fruitful season of preparing for the great feast of the Church, the Resurrection of the Lord
Lent is the 40-day season of preparation for Easter that ends on Holy Thursday, three days before Easter Sunday. During Lent, Catholics recall their baptism and do penance – fasting, prayer, and alms-giving as they commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ.
Please note that we are currently awaiting our 2020 allocation from Immigration Canada, which we expect to receive on the first two weeks of March. In either April or May, we plan to announce details about an online registration event that we will arrange for members of the general public who wish to sponsor a refugee. The online registration will be open for several days. We anticipate a high level of demand for the limited allocation that we will receive. To manage this, we will be holding a random draw to select a number of registrants who we will then invite to an Introduction to Resettlement Information Session. This marks the first step in sponsoring a refugee through this office and attendance is mandatory for all selected registrants.
Sunday, September 29, 2019 marked the 105th World Day of Migrants & Refugees, a day dedicated by the Catholic Church to remember and pray for those who suffer as migrants and refugees. The theme announced by His Holiness Pope Francis for this year's World Day of Migrants and Refugees is "It is not just about migrants". In his message, Pope Francis reminds us that "every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age. The Lord entrusts to the Church's motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future. This solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience… This is a great responsibility, which the church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will…"
In the Archdiocese of Toronto, this day was commemorated with a Solemn Mass, which took place at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church in North York. Archbishop Emeritus of Lahore Pakistan, Lawrence Saldanha presided, with Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, and a large number of clergy concelebrating. In his homily, Bishop Kirkpatrick spoke on the Gospel parable of Lazarus and the rich man, and on Pope Francis' message for this day. He exhorted the faithful to continue their work to care for and protect those who suffer as migrants and refugees.
The presentation that immediately followed the Mass, focused on the suffering of the Pakistani Christian refugee community, many of whom have fled to Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. A video that was created specifically for this event was presented to the roughly 250 people in attendance. The video and accompanying presentation by Archbishop Saldanha underscored the suffering of this community and the various factors driving the oftentimes brutal persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan.
Mr. Garnett Genuis, Conservative MP for the riding of Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, shared the Conservative Party's vision for Refugee Sponsorship, and in particular the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.
Deacon Rudy Ovcjak, Director of the Office for Refugees at the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) highlighted the work being done by the office to address the plight of the roughly 400 Pakistani Christian refugee families stranded in Thailand. In July, a small team from the office travelled to Bangkok to meet with 65 of these Pakistani Christian families, both Catholic and Protestant. His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Archbishop of
Toronto, set aside $250,000 to
assist with the cost of resettling someof these families to Canada. An additional $250,000 is expected to be contributed by Catholic parishes throughout the Archdiocese. The combined funds will support the sponsorship of 18 of the 65 families. Work is underway to reach out to Catholic bishops and sponsoring organizations across Canada, to ask for their assistance to sponsor the remaining families. To date, eight Catholic Dioceses have indicated their willingness to sponsor one or more families. These include the Dioceses of: Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Peterborough, Halifax and others. Efforts are also underway to reach out to Protestant communities and to potential donors to ask for their assistance.
The event marked an important milestone on the way to saving these 400 desperate and suffering Pakistani Christian families.
If you are interested in sponsoring a family or in contributing towards this cause, please contact the Office for Refugees at (416) 934-3400 x804 or by email at email@example.com.
Please click on the attached link to view a video, Summary of the International Catholic Migration Commission's (ICMC) 2018 Council plenary meeting
The Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking were released in January by the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section. The publication provides in-depth insight into the issue of human trafficking, which Pope Francis has called a “crime against humanity.”
Migrant women who survived human trafficking playing soccer at an Italian reception center managed by nuns. © UNHCR/Jordi Matas “One of the darkest aspects of contemporary history,” states the new publication, “human trafficking victimizes millions of people all over the world.” Amongst its victims are the most vulnerable in society, including women, children, the disabled, the poorest and those who come from difficult family and social situations.
Human trafficking takes different forms, including sexual exploitation, forced marriage, slave labor, servitude, forced begging, organ-harvesting and reproductive exploitation among others.
Examining ten dimensions of this complex phenomenon as defined by international law, the new resource outlines a framework for the Church to respond. Its ten chapters explore the causes of human trafficking and why it persists today. They also examine how it operates and why it remains hidden from public view.
In the document’s preface, Frs. Fabio Baggio and Michael Czerny, Undersecretaries of the Migration and Refugees Section, explain that the publication aims to “motivate and sustain the much-needed long-term struggle” to eradicate human trafficking.
The new resource responds to Pope Francis’ declaration that “the Catholic Church intends to intervene in every phase of the trafficking of human beings.” Its development took six months of church-wide consultation with leadership, scholars and organizations working in the field.
Invited by the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) contributed insights for the development of the resource based on its past and present experience in responding to survivors of trafficking and of sexual and gender-based violence.
“ICMC and our national member organizations in many countries are committed to serve those who have been subjected to such abuse and to take strong action to eliminate these crimes. The Vatican resource will help us to become more effective in our efforts,” says ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo.
Frs. Baggio and Czerny note that the publication’s guidelines are “deeply grounded in the Church’s reflection and teaching and its longstanding practical experience responding to the needs of men, women, boys and girls caught up in human trafficking and in slavery, both past and present.”
They hope the new resource will motivate and inspire the Church’s anti-trafficking ministries in dioceses, parishes, religious congregations, schools, universities and other organizations. The guidelines will also be useful as key messages for use in pastoral and educational work.
In his message for the 104th World Day of
Migrants and Refugees Pope Francis expressed the Church’s concern for migrants,
displaced people, refugees and victims of human trafficking, and encouraged
efforts at all levels of Government (Ecclesial and Political ) to help welcome,
protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees. Like ORAT, many Catholic
organizations strive to heed Pope Francis’ call to be like Christ, who
identifies Himself with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.
One particular organization to highlight is the International Catholic Migration Commission
(ICMC). ICMC is an international non-governmental organization whose mission is
to protect and serve uprooted people, including refugees, asylum seekers,
internally displaced people, victims of human trafficking, and migrants -
regardless of faith, race, ethnicity or nationality.
At the ICMC
Council meeting in Rome from March 6 – 8, Pope Francis affirmed and encouraged
ICMC members to continue the vital work they do saying “I would like to
reaffirm that the cause of this organization is the cause of Christ Himself.”
The ICMC Council, composed
of representatives of all bishop’s conferences, met to accomplish a number of
items, including the election of ICMC’s President, and approve membership of
ICMC’s Governing Committee. His Eminence Thomas
Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, continues to be a member of ICMC’s
Governing Committee. Video
highlights of this year’s meeting are available on our Facebook page. The videos showcase some of
the efforts that the Church continues to make to address the plight of migrants
ORAT recently held an information session for members of the general public (potential cosponsors) who wished to sponsor a refugee(s) for resettlement. One of the requirements that we placed on the attendees to the Information Session is that they secure a pledge of Moral Sponsorship from a parish within the Archdiocese.
Important Note: The member of the general public approaching a pastor should have attended ORAT's recent, mandatory information session, entitled "Introduction to Resettlement". When a pastor is approached by a member of the general public who has not attended the Introduction to Resettlement Information Session, or by an overseas refugee seeking sponsorship, we would encourage that they be directed to contact ORAT.
By providing a Moral Sponsorship, a parish commits to assisting the cosponsor with the logistical elements of resettlement in the unlikely event that he or she is unable to do so. If your parish has or is planning to form a Resettlement/Constituent Group, I would ask that you please consider providing a Moral Sponsorship if you are approached by a member of the public who has attended the Information Session.
It is important for a parish to recognize that there is no financial obligation associated with a Moral Sponsorship. The full financial liability is deposited with the Archdiocese by the cosponsor at the time that the sponsorship application is submitted to Immigration Canada.
Please note that it is not ORAT's policy to direct potential cosponsors to a particular parish. We have asked that each potential cosponsor arrange to meet with a pastor in a parish near their residence and ask if they would be willing to provide moral sponsorship of their refugee sponsorship application.
If you have any questions about Moral Sponsorship, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 416-934-3400 x804 and ask to speak with someone from our Outreach team.
Throughout the years ORAT has made several
changes to the Cheque Requisition Form, which is used by Cosponsors and
Constituent Groups alike to access monies that they have deposited with the
Archdiocese of Toronto for the settlement of their newcomer. Unfortunately, many cosponsors and
Constituent Groups are making use of older and out-of-date forms. This has introduced an unnecessary level of
complexity into the process.
As such, we are asking that all Cosponsors
and Constituent Groups use the current Cheque Requisition Form that is
available on our website. Please click
on the following link to access this document Resettlement funds deposit release - public.
For those that are
accessing Project Hope funds, we would ask that you make use of the Project
Hope Cheque Requisition Form, which is also available on our website at Resettlement funds
deposit release - Project Hope
Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
Provides information sessions for the general public regarding refugee resettlement as well as other Canadian immigration options.
Is the liaison between parishes, the Archdiocese and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in refugee resettlement.
Assesses resettlement applications and settlement plans.
Monitors all procedures before and after submission of a resettlement application and the integration process.
Invites you to enroll in the resettlement email distribution to receive information about refugee related issues regularly.
ORAT assists the faithful and enables them to provide assistance for uprooted people by helping parishes, religious orders, Catholic institutions and others to find durable solutions for refugees in need. Additionally the ORAT provides similar services to Christian communities in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Toronto. ORAT is a venue of communication, cooperation and collaboration for refugee serving organizations in the Archdiocese to improve the level of services provided by Catholic organizations.
ORAT works with partners nationally and internationally to ameliorate the situation of uprooted people.
ORAT operates in accordance with the Ten Building Blocks of Catholic Social Teachings and with the generally respected values, philosophy and principles of the Catholic Church.
ORAT facilitates the Sponsorship Agreement of the Archdiocese of Toronto; animates and coordinates the Catholic network on refugee assistance; liaises with other civic sponsors, dioceses and archdioceses, and international organizations such as ICMC (International Catholic Migration Commission), UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and other refugee serving members of the international community on issues such as
resettlement, protection and social justice.
ORAT's mandate covers the entire geographic area of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto and where members of resettlement groups reside beyond these geographical boundaries.
ORAT is also mandated to link and network with organizations nationally and internationally for greater cooperation.
Information Sessions: ORAT provides general immigration and refugee information sessions open to the public on a regular basis. The goal of these sessions is not only to ensure that people understand the Civic Resettlement of Refugees (CRR) Program, but that they are also empowered with the knowledge on all the ways a person can legally enter into Canada.
Parish Information Events: ORAT is available to provide support with information nights to parish councils, committees or just simply, interested parishioners, on general refugee issues, on civic sponsorship opportunities, etc. Please inquire with the Resettlement Educator if you are interested in hosting information sharing event or the monthly seminar.
Training: ORAT provides training to those interested in learning more about settlement and integration on an ongoing basis. Additionally, ORAT publishes a newsletter to give updates regularly.
Referrals: Although ORAT's main focus is the civic sponsorship work, ORAT can assist parishes, religious orders, chaplaincies, Catholic institutions and related groups in finding professional service providers with regard to refugee and immigrations issues or advocacy needs.
ORAT is funded by:
firstname.lastname@example.org 416.934.0606 ext. 804
matters related to Case Processing, Adding Dependents, Withdrawals etc. please email us at email@example.com
matters related to Project Hope, Resettlement Groups, Cheque Requests, Newly Arrived Refugees, etc. please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
matters related to Information Sessions, Volunteering Opportunities, the Refugee Resettlement Update Newsletter etc. please email us at email@example.com
register for our Information Sessions and workshops please visit: Eventbrite and choose your session
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