Helping a person or family resettle in Canada after fleeing persecution and violence is a uniquely rewarding way to “welcome the stranger” and put faith into action. However, there are unfortunately many misconceptions about refugees and refugee sponsorship in Canada. We bust some of those myths HERE.
MYTH: Canada is admitting more refugees than ever before.
FACT: In 2012, the number of refugees admitted was the third lowest in 10 years.
Canada could be doing significantly more to accept and resettle refugees in Canada. Only 23,056 refugees were resettled in Canada in 2012.* That is a low number compared to the number of refugees currently hosted in developing countries like Jordan, Pakistan and Kenya. In fact, in 2012 the number of refugees welcomed to Canada was 26% below 2011 numbers, and the third lowest in 10 years.
*most recent year for which statistics are available
MYTH: Refugees would not want to live where I live.
FACT: Refugees are resettled in every province and territory in Canada.
Local service providers who resettle refugees work very closely with congregations, employers, schools, hospitals, and other community groups to welcome refugees and assist them in the integration process. With their help, refugees are happily resettled in provinces and territories across Canada.
MYTH: It’s easy to enter Canada as a refugee.
FACT: Very few refugees arrive in Canada because it is difficult to reach.
It is very hard to get an entry visa and Canada is far from countries that produce refugees, like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo, Somalia and South Sudan. For those who do apply to come to Canada, the refugee determination process has many steps and can take up to five years.
In fact, less than 1% of all refugees are resettled in a third country like Canada.
Ismail was imprisoned and tortured in Sudan because of his ethnic background. He first escaped with his young family to Egypt, where it took three years for the family to be accepted and resettled in Canada.
MYTH: Canada bears most of the responsibility for resettling refugees.
FACT: Canada only hosts 1.5% of the world’s refugees.
Over 80% of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Jordan currently hosts the largest refugee population, at over two million people. Most refugees spend years, even decades, in camps and cities waiting for the situation in their home country to improve.
MYTH: Refugees come to Canada to get better jobs.
FACT: Refugees leave their countries because they fear for their lives.
Refugees are people who have been persecuted or have been displaced by war.
Upon arriving in Canada, they apply for jobs to support their families but they are at a serious disadvantage as they often must learn English and gain Canadian work experience prior to finding employment. Especially in the first few years of being settled refugees often take jobs that most Canadians are less inclined to do.
MYTH: Refugees have better healthcare than Canadians.
FACT: In general, refugees receive the same health care benefits as Canadians.
When refugees are resettled in Canada, they are eligible for provincial health care programs like other Canadians. The only refugees eligible for extended health benefits are those sponsored by the government, and they are only eligible for their first year in Canada.
Canadians have the option to purchase extended health benefits through private medical insurance provided by their jobs, and anyone on social assistance or disability can access these benefits through provincial welfare programs.
MYTH: Refugees are charity cases.
FACT: Refugees are hard-working people who have overcome incredible hardship.
The majority of refugees in Canada and abroad are educated and hard-working people whose education, profession or political opinions made them targets and resulted in their persecution. Others are from broad cross-sections of society, forced to flee from instability or war in order to save their lives.
Most refugees find work when they arrive in Canada, pay taxes and contribute to the economy as consumers. They are strong people who have overcome incredible hardship.