Facts and Figures on Immigration in Canada Debunk Cynicism and Fears
It’s a truth as old as the world’s earliest civilisations—as long as there have been borders between nations, there have been those who fear or even despise those who come from outside of those borders. These negative feelings often come attached to a number of today’s issues, such as the current Syrian refugee crisis. While there are the obvious concerns among certain members of the public that the refugees pose a security risk since some may be in league with the very terrorists they claim to be running from—a largely unfounded fear—others are more subtle, but just as disturbing. While Citizenship and Immigration Canada and refugee law offices work to debunk the myth that refugees are a major financial burden on taxpayers, ill-informed messages spread like wildfire around the internet, with some ready to believe the hype without checking the facts.
One message in particular, which has been circulating for years despite having been debunked when it first appeared, claims that refugees are given more in government aid than retirees are—by a margin of over $16,000 each year. Not only is this simply untrue, but many of the start-up costs afforded to refugees (which some mistakenly believe to be monthly amounts given but are, in fact, a one-time payment to help them get on their feet) are actually to be repaid with interest.
What’s more, recent statistics on employment, financial aid, and immigration in Canada have shed a new light on the perceived “economic burden” of immigrants and refugees. An article from Global News depicts graphs illustrating the percentages of different classes of immigrants with employment income, those receiving social assistance, and the median income of each during their first year, as well as five, 10, 15, and 20 years after arrival, and the figures are promising. After just five years, 57% of government-assisted refugees (and 68% of all immigrants and refugees) have employment income, compared to the national average of 73% in 2013. Accordingly, the number receiving assistance decreases, from 91% in the first year to 49% after five years. After 15 years, that number decreases to 16%.
What many people fail to understand is that government programs and refugee law offices exist not to help refugees come to Canada to live on taxpayer money, but to help them build a new life in our country. It can be immensely difficult to get back onto your feet after fleeing your home and leaving everything behind. But it is the goal of most people to be self-sufficient, whether they were born here or have arrived in Canada through immigration. At a refugee law office, the goal is to help individuals and families in desperate situations to seamlessly transition into a new life, and to help provide the tools necessary to thrive, in turn contributing to the local economy. In the end, what is better for our refugees is better for everyone in the community.