Pope Francis message for World Day of Migrants & Refugees "Forced like Jesus Christ to flee"

Date Posted: August 06, 2020

Pope Francis remind us on this 106thWorld day of Migrants and Refugees, that we should not look at refugees as numbers around the world, rather as suffering people, if we meet and get to know some families, their stories and the suffering they went through, we will understand , just “Like Jesus Christ, forced to flee”. Please click on the following link to view the video:


Pope Francis message for World Day of Migrants & Refugees "Forced like Jesus Christ to flee"

 Date Posted: July 27, 2020

Pope Francis, in his message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, focuses on the pastoral care of internally displaced persons who currently number over 41 million worldwide, and whose suffering has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Please click on the following link to view the video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdN2vFMkqWU

Immigration Canada Resumes Refugee Travel to Canada

Date Posted: July 20, 2020

With Immigration Canada's recent announcement that travel will resume for refugees, the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) has developed a Resource Kit for refugee sponsors.  We ask that all cosponsors and CGs who are expecting the arrival of a refugee to read this document.  Immigration Canada will contact sponsors of travel approved refugees to ask if they are ready and able to receive the refugee, and to fulfil the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement.  This resource kit outlines the various things that need to be incorporated into the plan and the need to share this information with the refugee while they are still overseas. 

Please click on the following link to access this document: 


Preparation for World Day of Migrants & Refugees

Date Posted: July 14, 2020

In preparation for this year's World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which takes place on September 27, 2020, we will be sharing a number of items that explore this year's theme, dedicated to the pastoral care of Internally Displaced People. 

Please click on the following link to read Pope Francis's message for the 106th World Day of Migrant and Refugees:


UNHCR Global Trends Report

Date Posted:  June 23, 2020

Each year the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issues a report on displaced persons, including those who are internally displaced within their homeland, and those who have been forced to flee from their homeland.  It is a stark reminder for us of the desperate condition that almost 80 million people find themselves in, and how fortunate we are to live in country where we are able to live in peace, and enjoy the many freedoms that we have.  Let us remember to pray for those who suffer, and to do what we can to assist them. Please click here to access this report.

Faith-Based Organizations on World Refugee Day 2020 

"To know in order to understand"

Date Posted:  June 19, 2020

Children living in the JRS Safe Haven play and sing during morning activities. Kakuma camp, Kenya. ©F.Lerneryd

In his 2020 Message, Pope Francis invites all people of faith and goodwill to get to know migrants and refugees and, this year in particular, those who have been forced to flee but have been unable to cross an international border, the internally displaced persons (IDPs). Pope Francis encourages all of us to "know in order to understand" -- personal knowledge is a necessary step towards appreciating the plight of others and making it our own. On World Refugee Day 2020, we wholeheartedly support the Pope's invitation because the plight of IDPs is an often unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated.

Today, there are more than 50.8 million internally displaced persons who have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict, violence or persecution. IDPs live in very difficult situations as they struggle to find safety within their home country or are unable to reach and then cross an international border to seek refugee status. Millions more are IDPs because of natural disasters. As humanitarian organizations and communities, we accompany, serve and involve IDPs around the world and call on policymakers and practitioners to listen to their needs and draw attention to their struggles.

In this time of COVID-19, we have seen this already radically vulnerable group running increased protection risks from their own governments. The profound social and financial crisis brought about by the pandemic could result in the concerns of IDPs receding further into the background. Some of our organizations are advocating for enhanced legal protection, non-discriminatory access to services, respect for their dignity and the enactment of peace building and reconciliation programs for IDPs. By engaging with the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs and the Global Protection Cluster, which have taken the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the landmark Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, and the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, we call for renewed attention to the plight of IDPs around the world. "It is important that internally displaced persons not be abandoned in this crisis. I call on States to exercise their sovereign responsibility to protect them based on the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and without diverting from existing delivery of humanitarian assistance", says Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs.

Displacement is about real people, and we must always remember that Jesus was once a displaced person. It is likely that most of us have displacement of some kind in our own family histories. If we engage with present day forcibly displaced persons in our midst, we will know more about the urgency of their predicament. Opening our eyes and mind will lead to a clearer idea of what we need to do to help them.

COVID-19 has stirred us to reflect on the displacement in our own hearts and on the flaws in our economic and political systems. Greed can so easily displace compassion. Deep in our hearts we know that care for others - not exploitation of them - makes us truly human. Mantras like "me and my country first" lack depth and are the products of misguided thinking.

In these uncertain times, Pope Francis exhorts us to be close in order to serve. On World Refugee Day 2020, we call for transformation. We call for eyes and hearts to open to action by recognizing, contemplating, and sharing the life of refugees, IDPs, and migrants. Through them we can see more clearly the truth about ourselves, our societies, and the direction we must follow. We therefore unite our voices with Pope Francis in his 2020 Message: "It is not about statistics, it is about real people! If we encounter them, we will get to know more about them. And knowing their stories, we will be able to understand them." 

ORAT's Sponsor Resource Toolbox

Date Posted:  June 15, 2020 

As part of our continued effort to support sponsors in their work to settle and integrate newcomers to Canada, we have put together a toolbox of information about various aspects of settlement, as well as links to some of the most commonly provided services for newcomers.  This information has been compiled into a kit entitled the "Sponsor Resource Toolbox", and is intended to be a quick reference tool for Constituent Groups (CGs) and Cosponsors to locate services for their newcomers. It is our hope that along with the CG Handbook, the Sponsor Resource Toolbox will assist you in the work of settling newcomers within the Archdiocese of Toronto.  

The Sponsor Resource Toolbox is a searchable pdf document, and is designed to be as accessible as possible. By simply clicking on the relevant subject matter in the Table of Contents, the user is automatically brought to the corresponding section in the toolbox.  

To access this document, visit the "Resources" section on ORAT's website or click on the following link: https://www.archtoronto.org/refugee/Documents/O%20Sponsor%20Resource%20Toolbox%2011-Jun-20.pdf 

We hope that you find this toolbox to be a helpful resource in your work to support your newcomer.   If you have any feedback and/or suggestions to improve this document, please contact us at (416) 934-3400 x804 or by email at oratouteach@archtoronto.org


Date Posted: May 29, 2020

Thank you to the many people involved in refugee resettlement, who through their tireless efforts have supported refugees sponsored through the Office for Refugees at the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT). 

In an effort to help current and future sponsors, we have developed the Constituent Group (CG) Handbook. In a special way, this resource has been developed to assist CG's who are making use of donated funds and who are sponsoring refugees that ORAT has named through its overseas missions (i.e., Project Hope cases).  At the same time, we believe that it is a helpful resource for sponsors who have named their own refugee.  

The handbook provides CGs with a framework, principles, best practices and over-arching information on various aspects of refugee sponsorship.  It provides CGs with an approach that helps the refugee achieve the best possible outcome and helps to ensure for the long-term sustainability of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program.  The best practices have been gathered from CGs throughout the Archdioceses and from our own experience, having seen what has worked and what has not worked. 

To obtain the document, visit the "Resources" section on ORAT's website or click on the following link: https://www.archtoronto.org/refugee/Documents/O%20CG%20Handbook%2028-May-20.pdf.   

The document, as a searchable pdf document, is designed to be as accessible as possible. Simply click on the relevant subject matter outlined in the table of contents and you will automatically be brought to that section in the handbook.  

It is our hope that this document will be a help for you and assist you in the work of refugee resettlement. Please let us know if you have any feedback and/or suggestions on how to improve the document.  You can contact us at (416) 934-3400 x804 or by email at oratouteach@archtoronto.org

Immigration Canada Update on COVID-19

Date Issued: May 22, 2020 

Immigration Canada has recently provided an update to Private Sponsors regarding COVID-19.  To access this update, please click on the following link: https://www.archtoronto.org/refugee/Documents/Guidance-IRCC.pdf. This communique is intended to assist sponsors in understanding how refugee cases in process are affected by the current pandemic (COVID-19) and, for refugees already in Canada, how sponsors can continue to fulfill their sponsorship role while also addressing the unique settlement needs of sponsored refugees during this difficult time. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several Canadian embassies and consulates, and International Organization for Migration (IOM) offices abroad have either reduced their operations or closed their offices temporarily. Sponsors should limit their communications to these offices during this time. 

Migration offices currently have differing levels of capacity to process immigration applications, including PSR applications. Interviews are not taking place at this time to ensure the safety and wellbeing of applicants and staff. Applicants will be invited for their interview once it is possible to do so. 

Due to the current disruption to normal operations, there may be delays in the processing of applications, regardless of type/category. Specific information on processing times is currently unavailable due to the quickly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. IRCC will contact sponsors and refugees once further information related to their application(s) is available. 

Because of the temporary travel restrictions, IRCC and IOM have cancelled all refugee arrivals until further notice. Information on when travel to Canada may resume is not currently available. IRCC will contact sponsors and refugees with further information once travel arrangements can be made. 

Updated information on how COVID-19 is affecting refugee sponsorship to Canada and other immigration programs can be found on IRCC's website at the links below: 

Please contact ORAT by phone (416) 943-3400 x804 or by email oratrefugeeoffice@archtoronto.org, if you have questions about your case.

Update on the ORAT’s General Public Registration

Dated: May 13, 2020

We received a tremendous response to the online registration that took place from May 4-8, 2020.  The registration reflects the work of ORAT to assist members of the general public who desired to sponsor loved ones in need of refugee resettlement.  We received 1,689 registrations.  The vast majority of these (71%) were to sponsor refugees from Eritrea.  The accompanying table reports by Country of Origin/Citizenship, the number of cases that were registered, and the number of refugees that the registered cases represented.

Country  of

Count of Cases Registered
Cases  as a % of Total
Count of Refugees  for Registered Cases
Refugees as a % of Total
      1 .4%  
                108           2.7%
                1,200      71.0%            2,438         61.4%
                      25        1.5%                  59            1.5%
                  12           0.3%    
                 1 24         7.3%               384           9.7%
                      76        4.5%                184          4 .6%
                        3       0.2%                    5           0.1%
                759          19.1%
Yemen                        9        0.5%                  20           0.5%
Grand Total              1,689     100%          3,969         100%

Given the restrictions placed upon sponsoring organizations like ORAT, we are unable to assist all those who registered.  To manage this and to be as fair as possible, a random draw was held on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, in which registrants had an equal chance of being selected.  

Selected registrants were invited to attend the on-line information session entitled "Introduction to Resettlement".   If we find out that we are allowed to submit additional refugee cases, then we will go down the draw order and select the next batch of registrants to begin work on their cases.

If you were not contacted, we encourage you to explore other immigration options that may be available, and/or reach out to other Sponsorship Agreement Holders in your community to see if they are able to assist you.   

ORAT's Refugee Resettlement Program for Members of the General Public

The Archdiocese of Toronto's Office for Refugees (ORAT) is still waiting to receive its annual allocation from the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).  The allocation specifies the number of refugees/asylum seekers that ORAT is able to submit refugee sponsorship applications for in 2020.  While we continue to wait for IRCC's announcement, we would like to move forward with our efforts to assist members of the General Public who would like to sponsor family members who are in need of refugee resettlement. 

This program is intended for members of the public who are neither members of a Catholic Church (Latin Rite) within the Archdiocese of Toronto, nor are members of Eastern Rite or Orthodox churches, with whom ORAT has developed specific programs for its members. 

We invite those who wish to sponsor a refugee to register online at https://intro-to-resettlement.eventbrite.ca.  Registration will begin at 9:00 AM on Monday, May 4, 2020 and will close at 11:59 PM on Friday, May 8, 2020.

Given the expected high level of demand for this program, registrants will be limited to sponsor 1 (one) family.  Families, as defined by IRCC, are comprised of mother, father and dependent children under the age of 22.  Exceptions may be granted when there are compelling reasons to do so.  Please note that we will not be able to entertain any changes to the name of the Cosponsor or the name of the Principal Applicant (PA)(Head of the refugee family) once the registration form has been completed.

Also, please note that registering on this site is NOT a guarantee that you will be able to sponsor through ORAT. Given the limited number of spots available for this program and the expected large number of registrants, ORAT will be holding a lottery, where all registrants will have an equal chance of being invited to attend the "Introduction to Resettlement" Information Session.  Only those who are drawn will be invited to attend this online session. 

May 1, 2020

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Source:  RSTP April 24, 2020 Bulletin 

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which launched on April 06, 2020, is a Federal temporary income support program for individuals who stopped working for reasons related to COVID-19.

The CERB is available to individuals:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits or have exhausted their EI regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
  • Who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and,
  • Who have not quit their job voluntarily.

    Further detailed information on the eligibility requirements for the CERB program, and information on how to apply, can be found on the CERB website:  https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html 

    Questions & Answers

    Question 1: Can sponsors make deductions to the monthly income support they provide if a sponsored newcomer receives income support through the CERB program?

    Answer: As any income support a sponsored newcomer receives through the CERB program is considered to be earned income, sponsors may make dollar for dollar reductions from the monthly income support they provide for the period the newcomer receives support through the program if the CERB income support is higher than 50% of the monthly income support being provided by the sponsors.

    If the amount the newcomer receives through the CERB program is 150% of the monthly income support being provided by sponsors, the newcomer may no longer require financial support from their sponsors. However, sponsors must still provide settlement support until the end of the sponsorship period and resume financial support when the newcomer stops receiving income support through the CERB program or the amount received drops below the 150% threshold.

    Question 2: Is the income support received from the CERB program taxable income?

    Answer: Whereas the financial support provided by sponsors to newcomers during the sponsorship period is generally considered to be a "gift" by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and is not taxable income, the income support eligible newcomers receive through the CERB program is taxable and will need to be declared when recipients file their 2020 tax return next year.

    For more information on the CERB, please click here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/questions.html

    Question 3: Can newcomers sponsored under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees and the Blended Visa Office Referred Programs apply for the CERB even if they are within their sponsorship period?

    Answer: Newcomers sponsored for resettlement to Canada under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program or the Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program that are within their sponsorship period may apply for the CERB and receive income support through the program if they meet all of the eligibility criteria outlined at the link above (newcomers should not apply if they are not eligible as ineligible individuals who receive income support through the program may have to repay the funds in the future).

    The income support a sponsored newcomer receives through the CERB program is considered to be earned income by IRCC, in the same way financial support received via the EI program is, and is not considered to be social assistance.

             There will be no consequences for a sponsoring group (i.e. a sponsorship default and/or a request for repayment) if the newcomers they have sponsored who are still within their sponsorship period apply for the CERB program and receive income support through the program..

Easter Wishes 

Wishing you and your family a very blessed and joy-filled Easter. 

Let us give thanks to Him who has conquered death and who invites us to share in His resurrection.

Christ is Risen!  Indeed He is truly Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!!

 Holy Week Wishes

From our family to yours.

Wishing you and your family a very blessed Holy Week!

Let us continue to pray one for another during these difficult days, asking our Risen Lord to comfort us with His Presence in this time of sorrow. 

Federal Government Support Programs during COVID-19 

Please click on the following link to see support programs that the Federal Government programs has made available during the COVID-19 crisis:


Public Health Canada Information for COVID-19 

Public Health Canada (PHAC) has produced a number of public education COVID-19 resources. Some of the Infographics and Fact Sheets are available in a number of languages, including Arabic, Somali, Bengali and Farsi. 

Multilingual resources include: COVID-19: Know the Facts; Taking Care of your Mental Health; About Coronavirus Disease; Reduce the Spread: Wash your Hands; How to Care for a Person with Covid-19 at Home; and, Physical Distancing (Arabic, French and English only). 

Please click on the attached link to access these resources: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/awareness-resources.html#wb-auto-5

An Update from the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada 

Following the announcement of the Prime Minister on March 16, 2020, travel to Canada has been restricted in response to COVID-19, allowing entry only to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, with certain exceptions. 

Detailed information on these exceptions have been outlined and include family members of Canadian citizens and residents, and foreign nationals, including privately-sponsored refugees (PSR), who were already in possession of permanent resident visas for Canada at the time of the imposition of the travel restriction measures. 

As you may be aware, all PSR cases booked for arrival in March and April by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), have been cancelled and remain as such until further notice. 

We recognize that while holders of valid permanent resident visas may be able to enter Canada, the ability to travel to Canada ultimately relies on various factors, including, but not limited to:

·         capacity of the IOM to facilitate travel and pre-departure medical services;

·         availability of flights;

·         conditions in the refugee's country of residence/asylum;

·         ability of foreign governments to issue exit permits; and

the sponsor and refugee's mutual interest to proceed with travel to Canada at this time, in light of the COVID-19 situation.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is actively working with various partners to plan travel where possible, and for the eventual resumption of refugee arrivals. The Resettlement Operations Centre – Ottawa (ROC-O) will contact you directly by e-mail when the refugee(s) you sponsored may be able to travel to Canada and you will be requested to clearly confirm your continued ability to receive and support them. 

If the refugee(s) you are sponsoring are able to travel, there will be additional requirements with which you will be asked to comply.  Upon arrival, as with all international travelers, the refugee(s) will be asked to adhere to guidelines on self-isolation and COVID-19, as defined by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). 

As this may also put you in close physical contact with individuals arriving from outside Canada, you may also need to adhere to the same guidelines.   

Until you receive correspondence from the ROC-O in this regard, we ask that you limit correspondence with IRCC. 

Additionally, we would like to take this opportunity to share the following information:

·              Due to the current disruption to normal operations, which began on March 17, 2020, ROC-O continues to process e-mailed sponsorship applications. In order to avoid duplication, sponsorship applications already submitted by mail should NOT be resubmitted by email. The mailed applications will be processed when IRCC resumes normal operations.

·              Moreover, some Canadian embassies and consulates have either reduced their operations or closed their offices until further notice. Due to the evolving situation, there may be delays in the processing of applications, regardless of type/category.

·COVID-19:  How to Protect Yourself

Please click on the following link to learn about how you can protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus.  Important excerpts from the same website are presented below.


1.       Practise physical distancing: To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community, Toronto Public Health encourages everyone to stay home and reduce their physical contact with others. Physical distancing means limiting the number of people you come into close contact with;

·         Cancel group gatherings:  Cancel all group gatherings; No parties or playdates with other children; Connect with friends by phone, email, video or social media; Do not visit friends or family in long-term care homes, retirement homes or other care settings;

·         Limit your trips outdoors: Go outside for essential trips only such as groceries, work and exercise; Keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others; Avoid crowded parks and playgrounds, which are not cleaned or sanitized; Greet others with a wave, a bow or a nod (in place of handshakes or hugs); Sanitize or wash your hands when entering and exiting buildings; No more than three people per elevator and use an elbow to press buttons if you can; Avoid long lineups; Use tap to pay rather than handling money; When taking public transit, avoid prolonged close contact with others and consider travel during non-peak hours;

2.       Wash your hands often: Use soap and water for at least 15 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;

3.      Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; 

4.      Avoid close contact with people who are ill;                      

5.      Stay home when you are ill; 

6.       Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands.  If you don't have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm; 

7.       Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

For general, day-to-day activities, there is no need to wear a surgical or N95 mask.

COVID-19 Related Support for Employees, Self-Employed Individuals, and Small Businesses

Please click on the following links to find further information about government programs that are available for employees and self-employed individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis.



Newcomers who are eligible to receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits may be able to access this support during their sponsorship period (i.e., first year of arrival to Canada). The receipt of EI benefits during the sponsorship period is comparable to employment earnings and therefore is allowed under the Private Sponsorship or Refugees (PSR) program.   EI benefits are not considered the same as receiving social assistance, which newcomers under the PSR program are not allowed to receive during their sponsorship period.  

Sponsors may treat EI benefits as employment income, and support may be adjusted if needed.  As EI is considered to be earned income, sponsors can make dollar for dollar deductions from the monthly income support they provide for any income received (e.g., Employment Income, EI benefits…) that exceeds 50% of the monthly Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) support. 

While cosponsors for family linked cases have this option available to them, we ask that Constituent Groups (CG) who are settling a Project Hope family make this adjustment to funding where possible.  This will ensure that donated funds are preserved to enable us to sponsor another refugee family who currently live in dire circumstances.  

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 oratrefugeeoffice@archtoronto.org

    • Automatic Newcomer Disbursements for Cosponsor (Family Linked) Cases:  All quarterly cheque disbursements to newcomers for family-linked cases are being automatically calculated and mailed out to the Principal Applicant (PA) or Cosponsor.  Because we have taken the step to automatically calculate the disbursement amount, we do not require the Cosponsor to complete the cheque request form.
    • Cheque Request Required for Project Hope Cases: Constituent Groups (CGs) who are sponsoring Project Hope cases are asked to continue to submit a completed cheque request form to oratoutreach@archtoronto.org.  Information needed to complete the form can be obtained by using the Budget Workbook, which we ask accompany the request for funds.  Please ensure that cheques requests are submitted at least 30 days before the funds are required.
    • Cheque Drop-Off by Mail Only:  For those required to make a liability payment (i.e., sponsorship funds), we ask that you send your cheque by mail to:

      Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT)
      1220 Yonge St., Suite 203,
      Toronto ON M4T 1W1 

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:

  • Self-isolate for 14 days after arrival in Canada.
  • Monitor their health for fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
  • Wash their hands often for 20 seconds and cover their mouth and nose with their arm when coughing or sneezing. 

If they develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days:

  • Continue to isolate themselves from others
  • Immediately call a health care professional or public health authority and:
    • describe symptoms and travel history
    • follow the instructions of health professionals or public health authority carefully. 

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:

  • Information Sessions:  Until further notice, we will be discontinuing in-person Information Sessions.  In the interim, we will be offering live on-line Information Sessions, which we encourage cosponsors and Constituent Group (CG) members to register for.  To register, please click on the following link to find out about upcoming sessions: Eventbrite.  We have also provided a number of on-line tutorials, which are available on our website.
  • General Enquiries:  In recognition that many enquiries are adequately addressed by phone or by email, we kindly ask that enquiries related to refugee sponsorship or case updates be made either by phone (416-934-3400, x804) or by email (oratrefugeeoffice@archtoronto.org).
  • Cheque Drop-Off:  For those who are dropping off cheques to our office, we ask that you send your cheques by mail or by courier.  Our mailing address is 1220 Yonge St., Suite 203, Toronto ON M4T 1W1;
  • Newcomer Disbursements:  All quarterly cheque disbursements to newcomers will be mailed out.  As such, we remind cosponsors and CG members to email their cheque request to oratoutreach@archtoronto.org at least 30 days in advance of when the monies will be required.  The cheque request is accessible by clicking on the following links:

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.

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. 

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.

2020 Allocation and Public Information Session

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.  

105th World Day of Migrants & Refugees

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 oratrefugeeoffice@archtoronto.org.


Volunteer Opportunity at ORAT

Volunteers Job Description

Summary of the ICMC's 2018 plenary meeting 

Please click  on the attached link to view a video, Summary of the International Catholic Migration Commission's (ICMC) 2018 Council plenary meeting  


Vatican Releases Anti-Trafficking Resource

Geneva, 22 January 2019 - A new resource aims to inspire Catholics in their ministries both to eliminate human trafficking and to support its survivors.

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.


2018 ICMC Conference

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 and refugees.


Moral Sponsorship for Refugee Sponsorship Applications


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.

Cheque Requisition Form

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.


Support available from ORAT

  • 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.

Services Offered

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:

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