Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 5 #6, 4 October 2010


g)     New from the CCR
-          Refugees and Immigrants: A glossary
-          Test your knowledge of facts and myths about refugees
“Five young children are currently being detained and incarcerated with their mothers. They have already gone through a gruelling journey, which could leave them with severe emotional and psychological scars. Moreover, some of them are of an education age and have had no schooling for almost a year. Their prolonged detention could only aggravate their misery.”
This is how Justice de Montigny of the Federal Court described the situation before him in mid-September. The government was urging him to keep the five children locked up with their mothers. 
The children, refugee claimants who arrived on the MV Sun Sea, had already spent a month in detention. The Immigration and Refugee Board had ordered their release, concluding that their detention could no longer be justified under Canadian law.  But the government turned to the Federal Court in an attempt to block the Board's order.
Justice de Montigny rejected the government’s application.
Why was the government so eager to keep these children behind bars?
According to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, children are only supposed to be detained as a last resort.
In practice, as this case shows, the Canadian government often loses sight of the interests of children in applying immigration rules and regulations.
detention and best interests of the childA report by the CCR, Detention and Best interests of the child, highlights the problem. (A summary of the detention report is also available.)
Children are regularly suffering from policies and priorities that ignore them. It is time to make children the priority!  The Canadian government must take seriously the best interests of any children affected when it makes detention decisions.
refugee transportation loansAt the beginning of September 2010, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) passed a resolution calling on the Canadian government to absorb the cost of refugee transportation loans. This is a tremendous endorsement for a change that the CCR has been pushing for the past few years. 
The FCM’s resolution did not come out of nowhere. There have been many dedicated individuals – staff at local immigration organizations, healthcare workers, educators and municipal counsellors – all working towards this same goal. Many thanks are due to everyone who got us this far.
These positive actions to ease the burden of transportation loans for refugees haven’t yet resulted in a concrete change in government policy. We still need your help and the voices of others! Act today. Encourage your town or city council to adopt a similar resolution calling on the federal government to absorb the costs of transportation loans for refugees. To find out how, see:
Every individual step moves us closer to the goal of freeing refugees from the burden of debt, enabling them to integrate much more quickly and to contribute to society at their full potential. For more information about refugee transportation loans and on the negative impacts they are having on refugee families and local communities, see:
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in its March 30, 2010 news release claimed that “each failed asylum claim costs Canadian taxpayers $50,000, mostly in provincial social service and health costs...”
How, we may ask, did they reach such a number? We learn the following from the response to an Access to Information request:
  • They never managed to reach the figure of $50,000. They calculated an average of $47,935 per refused claimant, based on the claimant being in Canada 50 months. Presumably they felt they could just round that up to $50,000.
  • The figure of $47,935 is based on a number of questionable assumptions about the average refused claimant. Most importantly, it assumes that 75% of refused claimants are receiving social assistance (for a per claimant average of $22,650, nearly half of the total).
  • CIC has no actual data for the percentage of claimants on welfare, so they extrapolate from other data that is not necessarily relevant (data for all refugees, including resettled refugees immediately after landing). They ignore their own observations that (a) the longer people are in Canada, the less they rely on welfare, and (b) refused claimants are more likely to have come for economic reasons and therefore to be working.
  • The costs actually associated with the refugee determination process are just $6,473 – remarkably cheap for a system considered to be among the most credible in the world!
Health care services for refugee claimants and Cdn citizensThe $47,935 figure for average costs is not credible, given the extremely dubious assumption of 75% reliance on social assistance.
But the biggest flaw in the calculation is that they consider only the costs, and none of the benefits – one of the most basic errors in economic analysis. Even according to their deeply unconvincing estimate of social assistance rates, 25% of these “average” refused claimants are working – and paying taxes. And all claimants are also paying consumption taxes.
Fairness - L'équité pour tousFrom 24 to 26 November 2010, refugee and immigrant rights advocates from across Canada will be gathering in Calgary for the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) Fall 2010 Consultation, on the theme Fairness – L’équité pour tous.
The consultation is an excellent opportunity for all interested to exchange ideas on barriers refugees and newcomers to Canada face before, at and after their arrival in Canada.  Consultation participants include: refugees, immigrants, representatives of community organizations, youth advocates, government, UNHCR, academics and international guests.
Consultation discussions will address issues that challenge refugees, immigrants, advocates and community workers.  In addition to larger plenary sessions, workshops and working sessions will produce strategies for further collaboration and specific actions. 
Topics addressed at this consultation include:
  • Issues affecting temporary foreign workers
  • Canada’s refugee protection system after Bill C-11
  • Housing for newcomers
  • Environmental change and displacement
  • Race, gender and policing
  • Canada’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Settlement services for francophones
  • Debunking myths about newcomer youth
...and many more
Information about the consultation and online registration forms are now available at: Register before 5 November to take advantage of the reduced fees!
Jeunes CCR Youth
A new webspace for the CCR Youth Network is being launched at
Check it out yourself and pass on the word to youth in your community!
Faiza HargaayaFaiza Hargaaya is a busy person. Currently the Assistant Coordinator for after-school programs at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM), Faiza is also a Winnipeg activist, an IRCOM ambassador and a spoken-word artist. Though IRCOM is a home for more than 60 refugee and immigrant families, it also provides community resource programs, such as English language classes, the After School Program for children, and community outreach. The IRCOM ambassadors are one public outreach program – a group of young professionals and students who come together to give performances, workshops and act as community models for newcomer youth and members of the general public.
When asked about the most pressing needs for resettled refugees and refugee claimants in the Winnipeg-area, Faiza put affordable housing, access to employment, and schooling issues at the top of the list. “We often help kids with homework during our breaks at work because one-on-one help from teachers isn’t available.” And what can the CCR do about this? ”When I go to CCR Consultations, it’s always interesting to hear about different approaches, what else is happening across the country.”
When Faiza attended her first CCR Consultation she didn’t know what to expect at the beginning. “I was hooked on the last day when I saw how everything came together during the General meeting. I wanted to be a part of it because I enjoyed it so much.” For first-time participants at a CCR Consultation, she suggests reading about the CCR and CCR issues and talking to someone who is already involved in your local community. After all, the work of the CCR is grounded in what happens in communities.
To hear Faiza’s spoken word piece on the word ‘refugee’, click here.
For more information about the upcoming CCR Fall Consultation in Calgary from 24-26 November and to register, see: http:/
g)      New from the CCR
-          Refugees and Immigrants: A glossary
This is a great introductory tool on refugee and immigrant rights in Canada and basic definitions. Now updated, reformatted and available in both English and French, you’ll find this essential public education document online at: and
-          Test your knowledge of facts and myths about refugees
By popular demand – are you looking for a teaching tool on refugees? Share this online quiz with students, colleagues, club members and other public audiences. You might be surprised by the results!
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