Omnibus budget bill restricts refugee access to social assistance

Whether or not you agree with the restriction (given that the major changes to the refugee system have dramatically reduced the numbers claiming refugee status, hard not to see this as more ideologically driven than based upon evidence), it is abuse of Parliament to include this measure (along with far too many others) in the Omnibus Budget Bill.

Not the first government to stuff budget bills with measures that should be debated and reviewed separately (Liberals under Chrétien started the trend), but as the Globe editorial notes, this government has taken this to new lows –Harper’s Ottawa is Omnibusted):

Although he did not take issue with the timing, New Democrat MP Craig Scott said the government uses omnibus bills precisely to avoid scrutiny of controversial provisions like the refugee social assistance cuts.

Scott called the social assistance and health care cuts “a one-two punch,” aimed at discouraging vulnerable, desperate people from finding their way to Canada and claiming refugee status, even though many claimants turn out to be genuine refugees.

“It suggests to me that they are pursuing the Fortress Canada approach to refugees to the nth degree,” said Scott, adding that the NDP will press the government to split the refugee provision from the budget bill.

“We want this pulled, simply because it’s frankly so offensive that they can’t justify the substance, let alone how they’re doing it.”

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Alexander defended the notion of restricting refugees access to social assistance in essentially the same language the government used to justify limiting their access to health care.

“Canada has the most fair and generous immigration system in the world,” said Kevin Menard.

“However, Canadians have no tolerance for those who take unfair advantage of our generosity.”

Menard added that allowing provinces to impose minimum residency requirements would build on the savings already racked up as a result of reforms to the refugee asylum system, which he pegged at $1.6 billion over five years.

He stressed, however, that it’s up to each province to decide whether to impose minimum periods of residence to qualify for social assistance.

Deputy Liberal leader Ralph Goodale called the governments latest move on refugees the product of a “nasty, vindictive and irresponsible” ideology.

Omnibus budget bill restricts refugee access to social assistance – Politics – CBC News.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: