CCR Welcomes Elimination of Right to Landing Fee for Refugees



29 February 2000

The Canadian Council for Refugees welcomed the government's decision, announced yesterday, to eliminate the Right of Landing Fee (commonly called the "head tax") for refugees. "This is very good news for refugees and for everyone that cares about treating refugees justly", said Francisco Rico-Martinez, CCR president.

The CCR has documented the very significant burdens that the $975 Right of Landing Fee laid on refugees, many of whom lost everything when they were forced to flee their homes. Many refugees who have arrived since 1995 continue to bear heavy debts for the fee. Canada was the only country to have imposed such a fee on refugees.

The "head tax" is one of a series of barriers to permanent residence that have kept thousands of refugees in "limbo" -- without any clear legal status in Canada, and denied many of the rights that allow them to get on with their lives. Now that the ROLF has been eliminated for refugees, the CCR looks forward to working with the government to solve the other main barriers: the identity document requirement and long delays in security screenings.

The CCR also views this announcement as a first step towards the total elimination of the Right of Landing Fee for all newcomers. The ROLF is unjust because it discriminates against potential immigrants with lower income levels and from countries with lower income levels. It will also continue to have an impact on refugees, many of whom in fact enter Canada as family class or independent immigrants.

To further address the burden on refugees, the CCR is also looking for the government to abolish the processing fees ($500 per adult, $100 per child) that refugees accepted in Canada have had to pay since 1994.

For more information, please contact:

Francisco Rico-Martinez, President: 416-469-9754
Janet Dench, Executive Director: 514-277-7223

Press release