Accepting refugees will help poverty

0
45

Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

This year, Justin Trudeau’s government will accept more than the

Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

This year, Justin Trudeau’s government will accept more than the
initially stated 25,000 refugees, mostly from the conflict in Syria.  Although the date originally set for the accomplishment of the endeavour wasn’t met, there are now 25,000 refugees in Canada with another 10,000 expected by the end of the year.
In addition to slipped dates, there have been problems with housing and related issues, especially for refugees settled by the government rather than private sponsorship.  However, beyond these immediate and solvable problems are some issues about the program itself.
The most common objection to accepting refugees is that Canada has poor people who need housing and jobs. Should these concerns not come first? The answer requires a closer look at Canadian society.
Surely, there is a moral imperative to help those in dire situations. Refugees are fleeing from severe violation of human needs and rights; they deserve our help for this reason alone. Further there are social and economic considerations that
make accepting refugees beneficial to Canadian society. Without immigration, Canada’s population would be decreasing.  With an aging population, Canada needs “new blood” and refugees are prepared to provide
this new population. Generally, by accepting families rather than individuals, Canada receives refugees who are eager to become productive
members of our society.
The question of addressing the legitimate needs of Canada’s poor is of a different dimension and a social issue separate from that of refugees. First, Canada has a federal system of government – immigration and refugee processing is primarily a federal matter while social assistance for needy Canadians comes under provincial jurisdiction. Thus, while any solution to poverty in Canada will require coordinated efforts on all levels of government, the starting point must be the provincial legislatures. The most recent statistics suggest that 1 in 7 Canadians live in poverty (4.8 million people). This is certainly alarming. However, these numbers are best estimates and could be out by 50,000 or more people. Thus, the addition of 25,000 refugees has no effect on poverty levels in Canada.
But most refugees eventually become citizens and partake in Canada’s political, social and economic system and will add considerable value to our society by active participation. Integration will replace accommodation. Canada will be richer in monetary wealth, cultural acuity and scientific and technical knowledge. By accepting refugees, Canada is ensuring a progressive, dynamic future for all Canadians. We must address poverty in Canada and accepting refugees is part of the solution.