The BC Refugee Hub will be curating information about COVID-19 relating to refugees and refugee claimants in British Columbia. This webpage will be updated regularly as more information becomes available.
Originally Posted – March 20, 2020
Update #6 – April 27, 2020
Burnaby Division of Family Practice & MOSAIC – Health Navigator Tool: The Burnaby Division of Family Practice has partnered with MOSAIC, on a program that links recent immigrants and refugees who don’t speak English or don’t have access to computers or the internet to medically trained staff and volunteers who can help them navigate the city’s online COVID-19 screening portal.
Surrey-North Delta Division of Family Practice COVID-19 Health Promotion Phone Lines: The phone lines will answer general questions in multiple languages. Clients can call with any general, non-medical questions about COVID-19, including: what measures to take and how the community can provide support.
The Province of British Columbia has dedicated phone service that provides non-medical information about COVID-19 in 110 languages. Service representatives can be reached seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., by calling 1-888-COVID19 / 1-888-268-4319.
AMSSA – Webpage launched with COVID-19 Updates and Resources. AMSSA is the Umbrella Organization for all settlement and integration service provider organizations in BC.
Government of Canada – Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
Province of BC – Ministry of Education has developed frequently asked questions (FAQ) and will continue to update them on Continuity of Learning in the K-12 Education System (PDF).
Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) – Q&A on COVID-19 related issues
ISSofBC – COVID-19 Updates and Resources, includes:
Greater Vancouver Food Bank – COVID-19 updates to schedules and distribution sites during.
Province of BC – COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool: This self-assessment tool, developed with the BC Ministry of Health, will help determine whether you may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. You can complete this assessment for yourself, or on behalf of someone else, if they are unable to.
Province of BC – COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information: Informational webpage with resources on:
BC Centre for Disease Control: Information and resources on COVID-19, how to protect yourself, your family and your community and what to do if you suspect you have the virus.
Video questions and answers
UNHCR Canada – Key information for asylum seekers
Province of British Columbia:
Province of BC (March 23, 2020) – COVID-19 Action Plan: B.C.’s first steps to support people, businesses
Municipal Affairs and Housing – Supporting renters, landlords during COVID-19 (Punjabi, French translations available)
The Province is implementing a number of additional measures to keep people housed and protect their health. The full list of immediate measures includes:
Ministry of Education – Safe and Healthy Schools
This webpage includes announcements from the Ministry of Education for parents and guardian and helps answer questions about continuity of learning while K-12 schools are suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It will be updated regularly, so you have a trusted source of information.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada:
IRCC – How COVID-19 is affecting business at IRCC.
This webpage has an FAQ on how COVID-19 is impacting travel for IRCC clients. Items related to refugees and refugees claimants include the following:
IRCC – COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Measures for Refugee Claims
For non-medical information relating to COVID-19, call 1 888 COVID-19
IRCC – Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Program delivery instructions
These program delivery instructions inform IRCC and Canada Border Services Agency staff on the procedures that are affected by the disruption of services associated with impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for new and existing
IRCC – Special measures to help temporary and permanent residents and applicants affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID‑19): Keep checking this page for up-to-date information on special measures put in place by IRCC to help temporary and permanent residents and applicants affected by COVID-19
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada:
IRB – Practice Notice (April 8, 2020): Special measures due to Covid-19.
(IRB) – Closures and Updates: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) front offices are closed. Effective immediately, in-person correspondence (hand-delivery) is no longer accepted.
IRB: Claimants, appellants and representatives please note that the following COVID-related measures are now in place, to grant temporary extensions as outlined in the practice notices for filing a:
IRB – Advisory Notice – COVID-19 (March 20, 2020): The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) continues to actively monitor developments related to COVID-19. Further to the IRB’s Advisory Notice published on March 14th, 2020, and as a result of the evolving situation relating to COVID-19, this is to advise that the IRB is extending the suspension of all in-person hearings and mediations, other than detention reviews, until at least Monday, May 4th. Postponed hearings and mediations will be rescheduled promptly. The IRB will continue to monitor this and updates will be provided as needed. In addition, the IRB is examining other possible measures, beyond those recently introduced, to provide increased flexibility concerning the requirements of the various IRB rules, once hearings resume. Further information will be provided shortly. The IRB is committed to both protecting the health and well-being of its staff and those who appear before the Board and continuing to ensure access to justice to the extent possible under these exceptional circumstances.
Government of Canada:
Important changes to tax-filing and payment deadlines (March 20, 2020) – Tax-filing and payment deadlines – The Agency has updated messaging on the payment deadlines for individuals and businesses, and has extended the deadline for charities.
BC Health Coalition:
RSTP – COVID-19 Resources for Sponsors & Newcomers: Info-sheet with links to multi-language resources and factsheets on COVID-19 that can be shared with refugee sponsors and refugees sponsored under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR), the Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR), the Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) and the Government Assisted Refugees (GAR) programs that have already arrived in Canada.
MAP Bulletins: MAP provides regular bulletins relating to refugee claimants in the Lower Mainland for service providers – includes information on settlement agency and community organization office closures:
UNHCR – Key Legal Considerations on access to territory for persons in need of international protection in the context of the COVID-19 response: This paper sets out key legal considerations, based on international refugee and human rights law, on access to territory for persons seeking international protection in the context of measures taken by States to restrict the entry of non-nationals for the protection of public health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Global News (March 20, 2020): PM Trudeau announced Friday that irregular migrants will be turned back to the U.S. when they reach the Canadian border.
Global News (March 20, 2020): Coronavirus – Closing Canada’s border to refugees violates international law, experts say
Globe News (March 30, 2020): Displaced people, refugees especially vulnerable to COVID-19: report
Business in Vancouver (April 2, 2020): Let refugees in during pandemic: rights groups – Majority of third-country refugees attempting to enter from New York State
Vancouver Sun (April 2, 2020): COVID-19: Refugee claimants stressed as immigration hearings delayed
Business in Vancouver (April 4, 2020): Refugee border restrictions to remain in place – Rights groups wanted refugees allowed into Canada from New York during pandemic
Vancouver Sun (April 10, 2020): Covid 19 challenges refugees and those helping them to settle
HuffPost (April 11, 2020): Coronavirus Exacerbates Isolation, Poverty For Newly Arrived Refugees – Immigration hearings are postponed, jobs are scarce and charities are struggling.
CBC (April 15, 2020): ‘Everything is hard for us’ – Newcomers find arrival in Canada complicated by COVID-19
Vancouver Courier (April 16, 2020): Advocacy group says undocumented migrants need access to government benefits
Canada’s National Observer (April 17, 2020): COVID-19 is leaving refugees and asylum seekers trapped between borders
CTV News (April 17, 2020): Undocumented migrants need access to benefits during pandemic, advocacy group says
iPolitics (April 22, 2020): Some refugee claimants can now enter Canada
Global News (April 25, 2020): Canada is releasing immigration detainees at ‘unprecedented’ rates amid COVID-19 fears
Burnaby Now (April 25, 2020): Burnaby partnership fights ‘brain waste’ during pandemic – Initiative connects newcomers who don’t speak English with people who can help them navigate self-assessments and find government resources.
CBC (April 27, 2020): Refugees face more hardship settling during lockdown, advocates say