Complaints over refugee funding not factual

I do hope that the author of this letter realizes that every person’s experience in immigrating to Canada is different.

In response to the letter in the Dec. 9 edition of the Cowichan Valley Citizen “Other Immigrants didn’t get this help”.

I do hope that the author of this letter realizes that every person’s experience in immigrating to Canada is different.

I am a first generation Canadian. My parents, along with their parents and siblings, like the author, also immigrated to Canada in the early 1950s, also from Germany. They also experienced the horror of war, leaving their home — due to the advancing Russian army. They were displaced people and for two years my father’s family lived in a refugee camp behind barbed wire, with limited food, clothing, education and so on. Both families eventually came to Canada with some support from Canadian Lutheran World Relief and other organizations. Every penny of the advanced fares were eventually paid back.

Just like other refugee/immigrants, these families worked hard for a better world for their children and the coming generations. This didn’t harden their hearts to others, but opened them; in 1968 during the time of the Czechoslovakian crisis my siblings and I, as young children, sorted through our toys and clothing to give to the refugee children arriving in our community, and my parents helped the adults learn English. Then in the years of the “boat people” our extended family again stretched out a helping hand, offering a home and other resources to those arriving in need.

Now in 2015 those of my parents’ generation who arrived in the 1950s, plus many of the next generation, are helping the newest refugees feel welcomed in Canada. They are not shaking their heads in despair, they are not mad that the government is providing refugee assistance as the author of the Dec. 9 letter implies, but are rejoicing that the Canada that welcomed them, that allowed them to prosper, continues to give a helping hand to those in our world who are in need.

I must also strongly disagree with the author of the above noted letter that the Syrian refugees will get a steady income, which is higher than a Canadian senior would receive. Global News has done the research and on Nov. 19, 2015 reported: “Some government-assisted refugees get a small monthly amount in their first year in Canada — about $800 for a single person — and a one-time set-up allowance of about $900. They may also get a loan of a few hundred dollars for rental or other deposits. There are sometimes small one-time allowances for pregnant women, newborns, young children in school.

“But government-assisted refugees are required to pay back the cost of their trip to Canada and their initial medical exam — with interest.

“Asylum-seekers in Canada get no social assistance until they’re permanent residents, at which point they’re eligible for provincial social assistance just like anyone else.

“Privately sponsored refugees aren’t eligible for any social assistance: They’re the financial responsibility of their sponsors for the duration of the sponsorship, which is usually about a year.

“Single older Canadians in the lowest income bracket, on the other hand, get at least $1,300 a month through Guaranteed Income Supplements and Old Age Security pensions.”

I would encourage the author and others who think similarly to remember that every experience of those who have come to Canada from elsewhere is unique. Despite these different experiences we are all human; we all have need for food and shelter, a need for companionship, a need to feel like we belong and are welcomed. We as a people who are already here have a responsibility to be understanding, with an open heart and mind so that the strangers that we welcome to our communities become our neighbours, our colleagues and our future!


Renée Stieda

North Cowichan

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