Employees of two Canadian Government agencies recently received training from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) to enable them to better address refugee and asylum issues.
“We view these opportunities to share information as a service and an investment,” said UNHCR Senior Protection Officer Hy Shelow, who facilitated the sessions last month in Toronto.
“Canada is an important protection partner for UNHCR, including globally, and it is crucial that officers who are responsible for access to territory and to procedures also have a larger view of the procedures and what they mean to people.”
Some 30 staff of the Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) Etobicoke office and the Refugee Eligibility and Admissibility Unit of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) at Pearson International Airport received the training, which is offered year-round across the country.
The training at Pearson Airport was directed at the new CBSA unit established last December, which assesses admissibility to Canada and eligibility to go before the Immigration and Refugee Board. Asylum seekers receive a streamlined refugee intake examination, with appointments scheduled for within three days of their arrival in Canada.
“We are happy to see that such a unit has been established in line with UNHCR’s recommendations,” said Abraham Abraham, UNHCR’s representative in Canada. “We hope to continue working closely with CBSA, contributing to the special skills base for officers working with asylum-seekers at ports of entry.”
Karen Thompson at Etobicoke CIC said many staff had found the UNHCR training “an eye-opening experience,” placing refugee protection in the context of the global context. “We believe that such training gives our staff a renewed sense of purpose and dedication for their work.”