2.A Refugees: From Eligibility to Arrival
A.4 How are sponsorship-eligible refugees identified?
(iv) How can States work with sub-federal governments to select refugees?
How Canada Does It
In Canada, certain elements of immigration are a shared responsibility between the federal government, provinces and territories. In accordance with its international obligations and constitutionally mandated responsibilities, the federal government of Canada determines which persons are eligible for refugee protection and admissible to Canada (see 2.A.1 and 2.A.6).
Specific constitutional provisions apply to the Province of Quebec, which establishes its own criteria in selecting refugees for resettlement. However, the federal government continues to be responsible for ensuring refugees are eligible and admissible.
The Canadian Constitution divides legislative powers between two orders of government: federal (matters of national interest) and provincial (matters of local interest). Section 95 of Canada’s Constitution gives concurrent jurisdiction over immigration to the provincial and federal governments, although in practice the federal government is primarily responsible for selecting and processing refugees for resettlement to Canada. Many aspects of refugee resettlement (e.g. access to services like education or health) fall to the provincial and territorial governments of Canada. Specific constitutional provisions apply to the Province of Quebec, which is responsible for selecting refugees to resettle to Quebec based on referrals from the Government of Canada.
To be selected for resettlement in Quebec, the refugees must first be recognized as eligible for protection and admissible to Canada. Canada refers approved refugees to the Government of Quebec for selection. Refugees referred for resettlement to Quebec must fill out an application called the “Certificat de sélection du Québec” (CSQ – Québec Selection Certificate). The application is then assessed by Quebec based on a number of factors, including: language proficiency, relationship to Quebec (e.g. family member residing in the province), and work experience.
Because of the shared responsibility over refugee resettlement between Canada and Quebec, the two governments consult on a regular basis through formal mechanisms and work together, particularly in annual planning exercises to ensure that necessary resources are identified and made available. For instance, Canada must ensure that in addition to refugees destined elsewhere in Canada, visa officers are available to assess the eligibility and admissibility of the number of refugees Quebec determines to admit in a given year.