A few years ago, someone circulated a bulk email item in Canada that got a lot of folks pretty upset.
Recognize that, in Canada the Refugee Process is big business. There are no fewer than 50 agencies throughout Canada (each funded by tax dollars) that are paid to fend for Refugees and see to it that the Refugee gets his/her full “entitlement”.
When the various advocacy groups became aware of the story that I mentioned, they quickly and effectively attacked that story for some inherent inaccuracies. I compared the original story to the rebuttals from the various lobby groups and tend to agree that: based on that story (the way it was written) the story was inaccurate by asserting that the average Canadian senior citizen would be better off financially making a claim for Refugee Protection instead of an application for Canada Pension Plan benefits.
When I describe Refugee care and benefits, I am describing a multi-layered “industry” populated by mainly government funded service providers. To calculate the financial impact to the taxpayer for such services is far too complex a project for me as an individual to tackle (though someone should!). I served for about 7 years as a member of the Board of Directors of Catholic Cross Cultural Services (a Toronto based settlement service agency). Though, as Board members, our work was unpaid and volunteer, be assured the range of services accessed was far from cheap.
I will not attempt to make the comparison of “newcomer” costs and services to the plight of a senior citizen (who is a Canadian citizen) living on a fixed income. Such a comparison is unwieldy and (in fact) the two actually overlap. What I do suggest is that compared to the plight of Aboriginal persons living here in Canada, there is good reason for genuine concern. Aboriginal folks especially those living in remote settlements would certainly benefit greatly if they TOO had should advocates as those involved in the “newcomer settlement industry”.
Let’s just point out a quick list of what financial gain awaits the typical “refugee family” upon arrival in Canada. For purposes of this example, let’s define this “refugee family” as being two adults and two children under the age of 18. We need to pick a random refugee producing nation so as to bring currency and economics into the discussion. For this case, I have chosen Sri Lanka because of the high number of refugee applicants that regularly appear on the Citizenship and Immigration department’s case lists. For your information, I have used the present international bank rate of $1.00 (Canadian) equaling 122.04 Sri Lanken Rupee.
A handy salary survey on the internet also informs us that the average income in Sri Lanka is less than $6,000 (Cdn) per year.
Armed with these estimates, we then can proceed to look at immigration to Canada.
Upon arrival, they will become eligible for the following:
(1)Start-up allowance of $1890.00 per person plus $800/child. This is a onetime only “gift”. In the case of this “example family” we then begin with a payout of $4380 to help purchase household goods and furnishings. This one time start-up allowance is almost equal to a full year of income in Sri Lanka
(2)Next, our sample family applies for Resettlement Assistance Program which will happily hand out $635.00 per month per person for the first year (only) in Canada. That is another $30,480 paid out in monthly increments. That amount works out to about the average family income in Canada however; (using 2006 census data) the average family income in Attawapiskat is only $16,600 per year. Go figure!
(3)Next, our sample refugee family will immediately collect $120.50/month per child. That is a handsome total amounting to $2,890.00 per year and will continue until the children each age 18 thanks to the Child Tax Benefit program
(4)It does not stop there. We then add in an extra $100.00/month per child via the Universal Child Care Benefits Program. Thus, another r$2,400 per year. Note, if it can be established that one (or both the children is disabled) this family can pick up an additional $220.83 per month per child. In the case of two disabled children that would net another $5,300 per year.
(5)Once inside Canada, via the Family Unification Plan, elderly family members (Grandma and Grandpa) can join the family and (if over the age of 60) can immediately collect $1,037.03 each (per month) between the ages of 60 and 64.
(6)Next, the base family can apply for and expect to receive a Guaranteed Income Supplement amounting to $740.00/ month for each adult. This will add another $17,760 to this Refugee family’s annual income.
For shock value, a person “might” tally up the entire package at this point. However, we have not estimated health care and education costs for the family unit. I have not attempted to calculate the financial benefit of taking space in heavily subsidized housing intended to help our own poor. I shall not tally up the entire package but, suffice to say, in comparison to average family incomes in places such as Sri Lanka or Pakistan (or any number of African countries) such rewards represent a great incentive to file even a bogus refugee claim in Canada and to treat the time here as a wonderful/money making opportunity until eventual deportation.
I am not anti-refugee nor am I anti-immigrant. I simply point these wonderful benefits out and ask: by comparison; how do you feel about how First Nations and Aboriginals are treated here in Canada? It may be the right time for a few of these refugee advocate groups to think about abject poverty right here at home.