A local settlement group is cheering a new federal E-petiton calling on Ottawa to scrap the controversial loan program used to transport refugees to Canada.
Come to Canada as a refugee, and you’ll likely end up with a bill of up to $10,000, cash used to pay for travel and medical costs, with first payments due just a month after touchdown.
It’s a program Ninu Kang with the B.C. non-profit MOSAIC says goes against Canada’s humanitarian commitment to aid vulnerable refugees.
She says the vast majority of refugees do end up paying the tab, but at a significant cost.
“The first thing they do is try to pay their loan off. They often pay those loans off at the expense of food, or things for their children, housing.”
Kang says Canada prioritizes the most vulnerable refugees, meaning upon arrival many are unable to quickly find employment.
“They may not have English as a language, they might be mothers who are looking after anywhere from five, to seven, to 10 children. So leaving the children and finding employment might be really difficult. We are receiving individuals with disabilities, mental health issues.”
While 91% of refugees end up paying the money back, a 2011 survey by Citizenship and Immigration Canada found 61% of them were having difficulties doing so.
E-petition calls for end to loans
Last year, Ottawa waived the loans for refugees specifically fleeing the war in Syria.
Now, the petition launched last week by Edmonton resident Scott Fenwick and sponsored by Vancouver-East NDP MP Jenny Kwan now calls for the whole program to be thrown out.
The petition further calls for refugees of all nationalities to be regarded equally, and for a boost in funding to language, mental health, childcare, and integration supports.
It has until January 28th to net 500 signatures in order to be presented in Parliament. Since Friday it has attracted 30.