After one year, only half of Syrian adult refugees [in Canada] are working

After one year, only half of Syrian adult refugees are working, CIJ News, Ilana Shneider, December 12, 2016

syrian-refugees-arriving-in-toronto-1-photo-screenshot-youtube-citizenship-and-immigration-canada-620x330Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto. Photo: screenshot YouTube Citizenship and Immigration Canada

During a debate on Global News between Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration Arif Virani and Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel, Virani admitted that only 9,000 people, or about half of the adult Syrian refugees who were resettled in Canada in 2015, entered the Canadian labour force.

The numbers contradict Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum’s assertion that the immigration policy of the federal government which welcomes more refugees “will help diversify the Canadian economy and create sustainable growth.” At a press conference on March 8, 2016, McCallum said: “As we continue to show our global leadership, Canada will reunite families, offer a place of refuge to those fleeing persecution, and support Canada’s long-term economic prosperity”.

Speaking to students at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario on October 21, 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed his commitment to resettle more refugees in Canada because of the social and economic benefits when he said that “Canada and countries around the world need to do more in welcoming people who are fleeing for their the lives, and that’s why I’m so proud of the fact that Canadians stepped up over the past year and welcomed in Syrian refugees to their communities right across the country, because we know that bringing in people and giving them an opportunity to succeed and build a better life for themselves, it’s good for them but it’s also good for the communities…, it’s good for our economy and it’s good for the world.”

During the Global debate, Rempel said that because the Liberal government was so focused on the numbers, they lacked a plan in terms of looking to the future in order to successfully integrate the refugees. She also told the host that witnessed who appeared in front of Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration complained about a lack of funding for schools and language training.

A report by the Senate Committee on Human Rights released last week found that many refugees are struggling to meet their basic needs because they are not receiving certain benefits in a timely manner, even though the government allocated $900 million towards resettlement of all newcomers, of which $30 million was allocated specifically to Syrian refugees, and which amount was increased by an additional $18 million last month.

When asked whether Virani expected that one year later only half of the Syrian refugees would be working, he said that the number is consistent with other refugee populations, and that it takes a “number of years for refugees to attain the same economic levels as other Canadians who have been here for multiple generations”.

Rempel said she wants the government to put forward a solid plan that’s transparent to the Canadian taxpayers on the true cost of the refugee resettlement programs. “When the government was running on a promise of 25,000 refugees during the campaign, they said in their ‘fully costed campaign document’ that it was only going to cost $250 million. And we now know that it’s going to be well above that”, Rempel told host Tom Clark.

Virani told Clark that Canadians want to see “more refugees, not less”, which echoed a claim made by Minister of Immigration John McCallum, who last September said “I have been hearing a lot of input, and all the hundreds of people I’ve spoken to across the country, most of them, almost all of them, have advocated [for] more immigrants, whether for demographic reasons or for job-shortage reasons”. However, both Virani and McCallum’s assertions are inconsistent with the findings of a recent Globe and Mail/Nanos survey which revealed that only 16% of Canadians think Canada should accept the same or more immigrants, while 39% think Canada should accept fewer and 37% think Canada should accept the same number of immigrants in 2017.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, fewer than 50 percent of all Syrian refugees who were resettled in Canada have completed high school, fewer than 10 percent have a university degree and the vast majority don’t speak either official language. The probability of finding employment without education and language skills is very low, which means those who relied on federal assistance for one year will now become the responsibility of the provinces where they reside.

On October 12, 2016, McCallum told reporters that the federal government had no idea that the Syrian refugees have many children, and this is why the provinces are still facing challenges related to finding proper housing and teachers for language training classes.

A recent study released by HungerCount – the only comprehensive annual national report on hunger and food bank use in Canada – found that almost 13% of all people helped by food banks in 2016 were immigrants and refugees.

In 2015-2016, a report released by the federal government revealed that in 2015-2016, the government spent $384.7 million on the Syrian resettlement initiative.

Explore posts in the same categories: Canada, Canadian politics, Employment, Employment related skills, Syrian refugees

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