We’ve been working hard this fall with our partners to oppose federal legislation that would restrict access to social assistance benefits for refugee claimants and others without status in Canada by allowing the provinces to impose residency requirements on them.
This move was contained in Bill C-585, a Private Members Bill that was introduced by a backbench government MP last April.
After hundreds of signatures on an online petition, letters of concern sent to Members of Parliament, and lots of media attention, Bill C-585 was delayed three times in the House of Commons.
But on October 23, the provisions of this Bill got a big boost.
On that day, the federal government introduced omnibus Budget Bill C-43. The Budget Bill includes – word-for-word – the provisions of Bill C-585. You can read sections 172 and 173 here. And read our backgrounder on the impact of these sections of the Budget in English here or in French here.
Now, Budget Bill C-43 is making its way quickly through the House of Commons.
ISAC and the Canadian Council for Refugees appeared before a Senate Standing Committee’s pre-study Budget hearing yesterday to oppose this move.
You can read our written submission to the Senate Committee here. And you can watch the hearing by clicking on “view this clip” for SOCI Meeting No. 51 here.
Social assistance is a crucial lifeline for people who come to Canada escaping war, persecution, and civil unrest. It can take months for refugee claimants to get a work permit. In the interim, most rely on social assistance to feed, clothe, and house themselves and their families and begin to rebuild their lives.
Denying basic assistance to refugee claimants will increase the poverty of refugee claimants and put further pressure on already overburdened charities and municipal shelters. It changes the relationship between the federal government and the provinces on social programs. And it violates a number of international laws and treaties that Canada has signed.
Here are three things you can do to oppose this move:
1. Individuals – Sign the Petition:
Take a moment to add your name to a growing list of people across the country who oppose these sections of Bill C-43.
- Our online petition is here: http://www.change.org/p/stephen-harper-stop-the-budget-bill-from-denying-refugee-claimants-social-assistance
2. Organizations – Endorse an Open Letter
If you represent an organization that has an interest in opposing these sections of Bill C-43, please endorse our Open Letter. Send an email to email@example.com by 4pm November 12 to add your endorsement.
- Letter in English here: Open Letter To Finance Minister Oliver on Bill C-43 - Nov 26 2014
- Letter in French here: Open Letter To Finance Minister Oliver on Bill C-43 - Nov 25 2014
3. Forward this email right away to others who you know will also be concerned.
Thank you for your action on this important issue!
More information is in the links below:
Canadian Council for Refugees submission to the Senate Standing Committee:
Globe and Mail: Federal omnibus Bill restricts refugee access to social assistance benefits:
Globe and Mail: Refugee advocates blast proposed changes to welfare in budget bill:
CBC: Budget Bill’s cuts to refugee assistance tops the Opposition’s list of complaints:
Toronto Star: New measure would put refugees at risk, say opposition MPs:
An interview with Opposition MP on CBC’s The Current:
Globe and Mail editorial says Ottawa is “omnibusted”:
Letter to the Editor of the Toronto Star: Refugee bullying reaches new low:
Amnesty International statement on how denying social assistance to refugee claimants violates international law: