3.H Training and information for refugee sponsors in Canada
Location: Toronto, Ontario; National
Name of Sponsoring Group: Refugee Sponsorship Training Program
Type of Sponsoring Group: Training and Information
Interviewee: Yosief Araya
What is RSTP?
The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) is administered by Catholic Crosscultural Services (CCS). The main purpose of RSTP is to respond to the training and informational needs of the refugee sponsorship community and individuals who are interested in sponsoring through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program. In addition, RSTP supports the promotion and matching of Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program – a cost sharing initiative between the Canadian government and refugee sponsors to resettle high needs refugees.
How and why was RSTP formed?
RSTP was created in 1998 to address the ongoing information, support, and training needs of private sponsors. CCS has been delivering the program since 2008. Over time, RSTP has evolved and now offers a robust collection of training and information materials in various media, expanded workshop options, outreach to new and ongoing sponsors, and is using technology to reach sponsors regardless of location through online courses and webinars. RSTP is committed to building the capacity of the diverse sponsoring community.
How is RSTP structured? How do you work?
CCS is under contract with the Government of Canada to deliver RSTP services to sponsors across the country. Services are delivered by staff located in CCS’s head office in Toronto, Ontario, and by a network of RSTP Trainers located in six additional cities across the country (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Halifax).
RSTP delivers training in the form of workshops, information sessions, webinars, online e-courses, and through hosting an annual national Sponsorship Agreement Holder conference that brings in subject experts to address ongoing and emerging issues related to the sponsorship of refugees.
All RSTP produced materials are available through the program website while new information and program updates are also circulated via group emails and bi-weekly bulletins. A great deal of sponsor support and problem solving is done over telephone and via email exchanges.
How is RSTP involved in supporting refugees? Who does RSTP support?
RSTP’s mandate is to provide support and information to the sponsorship groups in the PSR program who are then best able to support the refugees to resettle into their new life in Canada.
This includes ensuring that sponsors understand the requirements of the PSR program, their responsibilities and the level of commitment required, to assist them to prepare successful sponsorship applications, and to guide them through the process. RSTP training and materials also place a great deal of emphasis on the post-arrival issues that refugees may present, and works with sponsors to ensure they have the knowledge and resources needed to successfully settle their sponsored refugees. The training topics include managing expectations, the ethical considerations in sponsorship, conflict resolution, understanding sponsorship disputes and breakdowns, handling secondary migration, planning for the end of sponsorship, and other important post-arrival matters such as mental health and domestic violence issues.
The RSTP website has a section specifically for refugees with information on understanding their rights and responsibilities and those of their sponsors, understanding the sponsorship process, and what options are available to them should they be in conflict with their sponsors. In addition, RSTP staff respond to many phone and email enquiries from refugees seeking information and support relative to their individual circumstances. However, it is primarily through supporting the sponsoring groups that RSTP indirectly supports the refugees.
What types of training do sponsors need?
The training needs of sponsoring groups are often as varied as the groups themselves. The new sponsoring groups will need more training on the PSR program, the sponsorship process, refugee eligibility, sponsor responsibilities, and completing the required application forms. More experienced groups may need training on recent changes to the PSR program or on the more complex post-arrival issues. We continue to provide updated information and training on issues of case assessment and country of origin research and connecting sponsors with local settlement resources.
What is RSTP’s relationship with the Government of Canada?
CCS has a contract with the Government of Canada, through the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), to deliver RSTP services. The details of the services and supports to be developed and delivered, and the funding allocated to these tasks are spelled out in the contract. In addition, RSTP works very closely with IRCC to ensure that sponsors have the most up-to-date information on changes and developments in the PSR program. With respect to the BVOR program, RSTP works closely with IRCC’s Matching Centre by receiving profiles of refugees to be matched, promotion of refugee profiles, tracking of matched cases, following up with interested sponsors and support groups involved in the sponsorship of BVOR cases.
What is the best part of your sponsorship experience?
Through our work of sharing and providing information, delivering training, and supporting sponsoring groups, RSTP contributes to resettling refugees. By offering our knowledge and guidance to private sponsors, we enable them to successfully sponsor and settle refugees. Sponsorship is about saving the lives of refugees, and offering them protection and opportunities to live in a safe and peaceful country and enjoy their rights! RSTP is proud to contribute to this noble cause.