Refugee advocates battle federal government over welfare

More on the Government’s decision to allow provinces to restrict access to refugee claimants to social assistance.

As usual, appears limited or no consultations with provinces, no evidence-base provided as justification, and buried in the omnibus budget bill to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny and debate:

Ontario says it won’t go along with a proposed federal bill that refugee groups fear could severely restrict their clients’ access to welfare during their first months in Canada.

“We have no intention to change our policy as it relates to refugee claimants at all,” Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek said in an interview Tuesday.

She was referring to the ongoing fight is over provisions in Bill C-43 an omnibus budgetary bill. Refugee groups say the proposals will allow provinces to restrict access to social assistance for refugee claimants and others who have not yet been granted permanent residence.

“We were not consulted. There was no communication from the federal government alerting us. We were very surprised,” Jaczek said of the omnibus bill.

“It’s sort of a downloading to the province to make a decision.”

On Tuesday the Canadian Council for Refugees joined 160 groups across Canada to release an open letter to federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver to withdraw the proposals, and a small group demonstrated in front of his constituency office in Toronto and delivered the letter through the mail slot.

“To receive social assistance in any province, one must already qualify through testing and demonstrate great need. To then deny social assistance based on immigration status is to cruelly deny the most vulnerable in our society the crucial lifeline that allows them to survive,’’ the groups say in the letter.

Refugee advocates battle federal government over welfare | Toronto Star.

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.

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