Please send letters* to both:
The Honourable James M. Flaherty, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Finance
Department of Finance Canada
140 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5
The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P.
Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 1L1
Send a copy of your letters to your local MP (click here to find your MP using your postal code).
*Note: you need to put a stamp on your letters to these addresses, unlike letters to Members of Parliament at the House of Commons address.
Greeting to use:
Some points you might include in your letter:
- say that you are writing to ask that the government eliminate the burden on refugees of loans by absorbing the costs of transportation and overseas medical expenses for refugees
- explain your/your organization’s interest in this issue.
- underline the importance of Canada’s role in welcoming refugees to a permanent new home where they can rebuild their lives and that of their children in safety
- contrast this welcome with the starting burden of up to $10,000 dollars to repay Canada for medical exams and travel expenses
- highlight some of the impacts of this loan burden on refugees and on Canadian society:
- Teenagers struggle to keep up with their high school studies while working to contribute towards loan payments.
- Refugees postpone upgrading their skills and qualifications while working at low-end jobs to meet the monthly loan payments.
- Refugee youth sacrifice ambitions of pursuing higher education because they must work.
- Parents working multiple jobs to meet loan payments are hardly at home and can’t give their children the support they need.
- Refugee families making their loan repayments may not have enough money for basic living costs, including food.
- Refugees struggling with the trauma of persecution and exile and the stresses of adapting to a new country are particularly vulnerable to feelings of acute anxiety over the huge debt burden.
- Though the loan repayment rate is above 91% (an astonishing rate given the sacrifices of repayment for many refugees), the risks of defaulting on the debt are long-term consequences such as lack of access to mortgages, educational loans and the possibility of sponsoring family members
- contrast these harsh impacts with the minimal impact there would be on the overall government budget: only $38 million are needed to forgive existing loans and $13 to $15 million annually to absorb the transportation and medical expenses for resettled refugees.
- note that the government would save on the administrative costs for the loan program.
- acknowledge that the current global economic crisis means that the government is not looking for new expenses to take on, but note that newly arrived refugees are among those most vulnerable to the effects of economic downturn and therefore particularly need relief in these difficult times.
- include a copy of the CCR’s call to the government ‘End the burden of transportation loans’ with your letter: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/loansEN.pdf
- mention that further information is available on the Canadian Council for Refugees’ website at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/transportationloans.htm
(your name and organization)
cc. [name of your local MP - click here to find your MP using your postal code]