Canadian Immigration Minister John McCallum has set a goal to allow 17,800 “privately sponsored” refugees into Canada in 2016. With this provision, the government of Canada has made plans to resettle 55,000 refugees by the end of 2016.
The phrase “private sponsorship” implies that private finance is responsible for their expenses, right? Wrong. The government would like you to believe that “privately sponsored” refugees don’t drain your wallet. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
First, refugee sponsors are only required to pay for the room, board, and personal expenses of the refugees they sponsor, and only for a period of up to one year. They aren’t expected to cover the costs of any government services the refugees use, nor are they expected to cover any long-term dependencies of refugees on our government.
Refugee sponsors are expected to fund a small part of a refugee’s expenses for a small part of the time they spend as Canadian residents. Under the Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program, “privately sponsored” refugees can even receive direct government funding for their living expenses while they are being sponsored.
Secondly, the dependency of the typical refugee stretches well beyond their sponsorship period. Recent immigrants to Canada take an average of $6051 more from the government per year than they provide. For dispossessed refugees without any history in Canada, that number is likely to be even higher. Low-income, low-education people consume the lion’s share of Canadian social assistance, and refugees are no exception.
Refugees are entitled to the same services as other residents of Canada, plus much more. Refugees are given unbridled access to our healthcare system, welfare system and social insurance.
Refugees are entitled to resettlement-specific services as well, including language services, integration services, and subsidized housing.
Refugees are even entitled to low-interest loans through Immigration Canada, loans which can be renegotiated if they have “hardships”.
Past the first year, refugees will be directly dependent on the federal government. The concept of “sponsorship” serves as a mask to hide the reality of sponsored refugees--they’re a massive toll on taxpayers, just like the refugees that are financed wholly by the government.
Lastly, refugees are encouraged to exploit every government service they can. In the Canadian guide for privately sponsored refugees, refugee sponsors are encouraged to sign their refugees up for as many benefit programs as possible:
These government services include:
* Government funded language training
* Government healthcare, including assignment of a family dentist and doctor
* Schooling, including signing up for special care workers if needed (very likely due to the language barrier)
* Child care arrangements (likely government-subsidized daycare)
* Social Insurance and applying for a SIN card (and all its benefits)
These refugees are given every incentive to live the rest of their lives dependent on government benefits. Twelve months of sponsorship is a drop in the bucket. The amount of government services these “privately sponsored” refugees consume is astounding.
For some idea of exactly how much our generosity is costing us, we should look to the American experience with Middle Eastern refugees. A report by the Center for Immigration Studies has estimated that Middle Eastern refugees cost the American government $64,370 USD over the first five years of their residencies. The per-household cost of a refugee family was calculated to be a staggering $257,481 USD over that same period.
Without hard data for Canada, it would be tempting to transpose this figure on to Canada and suggest that our refugees would cost about as much. But refugees to Canada are entitled to an even broader range of services than those in the United States.
Therefore, the cost to Canadians is likely to be even higher.
One year of living expenses is nothing relative to the long-term costs that refugees pose. There’s a limited amount of research on the costs of refugees (I wonder why), but all available information suggests these “privately sponsored” refugees might as well just be called “government sponsored” refugees.
I’m sorry, John McCallum, but characterizing this charade as “private sponsorship” is dangerously irresponsible. “Private sponsorship” of Syrian refugees is a PR-motivated program that allows the government to maintain a facade of fiscal responsibility.