As 25,000 Syrian refugees are resettled in Canada by the end of the year, claims about how much money will be spent to support them have been circulating online and the federal government has stepped up to the plate to set the record straight.
An infographic that has been widely circulated by email and shared on social media claims that Ottawa gives refugees a “monthly pension” of $1,890, plus $580 in social aid, for a total of $2,470 per month or nearly $29,000 per year and that Canadian seniors, meanwhile, cannot receive more than $1,012 per month, or $12,144 per year in Old Age Pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits. SEE BELOW
The Government of Canada replied to the statements above on its official website with this response:
Question: Do government-assisted refugees get more income support and benefits than Canadian pensioners do?
Gov of Canada Answer: No. Refugees do not get more financial help from the federal government than Canadian pensioners do. A widely circulated email makes this false claim. The email mistakenly includes the one-time start-up payment as part of the monthly payment. The amount of monthly financial support that government-assisted refugees get is based on provincial social assistance rates. It is the minimum amount needed to cover only the most basic food and shelter needs.
Many refugees selected for resettlement to Canada have been forced to flee their country because of extreme hardship. Some may have been living in refugee camps for many years. When they arrive in Canada, they must start their lives again in a country very different from their own.
In keeping with Canada’s proud humanitarian traditions, individuals and families get immediate and essential services and support to help them become established in Canada.
Also debunked on the federal government website are the facts in the infographic about the maximum monthly income for Canadian pensioners. For more on what pensioners actually get go HERE
So what kind of financial support will Syrian refugees get once they arrive in Canada?
According to the Canadian Council for Refugees website:
Refugees come to Canada in different ways, but no matter the category, refugees receive very limited income assistance from the government.
The true picture is that:
- Refugee claimants and refugees recognized by the Immigration and Refugee Board receive no special income assistance. They may, depending on provincial regulations, be entitled, like other residents, to social assistance.
- Privately sponsored refugees are not entitled to any government income assistance (whether from the federal or the provincial government) during the period of their sponsorship (usually for one year after arrival in Canada). Their income support must be provided by their sponsors.
- Government assisted refugees have access to financial assistance from the federal government through the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP). This financial assistance is generally for one year maximum and is received only if they do not have their own financial resources or income. The exact rate depends on the size of the family and is tied to social assistance rates. In Ontario in July 2013, for example, a single person receives $781 per month. In addition, government-assisted refugees are entitled to a one-time set up allowance, to cover such things as clothes, basic household effects and staples, and telephone installation. For a single person there is a maximum one-time allowance of $905, plus a $564 loan for house rental and telephone line deposits.
Most resettled refugees arrive in Canada with a significant debt burden, since they are expected to repay the Canadian government for their transportation to Canada as well as the cost of their medical examination undertaken as part of their processing to come to Canada. Refugee families therefore often begin life in Canada with a debt running to thousands of dollars. Interest is charged on this loan at a rate set by the Department of Finance each year.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada estimates that an individual in Ontario would receive roughly $2,065 in a one-time start-up allowance, to cover things such as basic household needs, furniture, winter clothing and telephone installation if a landline is chosen. The estimated monthly assistance to a refugee in Ontario is $768, but the department notes that individual circumstances vary and so do the monthly payments.
The government also helps refugees find permanent housing, learn how to set up a bank account and register for various government programs.
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