Action Alert – Reform Refugee Loans

Despite Canada’s action taking in 25,000 Syrian refugees in a few short months, overlooked is the fact that Canada’s assistance to refugees isn’t free to refugees. Rather, it comes in the form of an interest-bearing loan, worth up to $10,000.

The truth is that refugees admitted to Canada are expected to pay the government back for all costs related to their screening and flights into our country. Canada is the only country that charges refugees interest on this type of loan.

To date, Canada has only made exceptions to this rule for Syrians fleeing Islamic State’s atrocities, while refugees from Iraq and all other armed conflicts are still required to pay. Although the plan – to spend $245 million over five years towards processing and resettling 10,000 more Syrian refugees – presented in last Tuesday’s federal budget is a good step, this approach needs to be extended to all refugees fleeing from high-conflict regions undergoing mass human rights abuse and civil war.
Join STAND Canada’s call to reform the Refugee Transportation Loan Program. We are calling for:

  • Abolishing interest from refugee loans;
  • Abolishing repayment of refugee loans altogether for refugees fleeing from high-conflict regions undergoing mass human rights abuse and civil war; and
  • Making the program more transparent and understandable to foreigners seeking refuge in Canada.

We’re also responding to Canada’s non-use of of the word “genocide” to describe Islamic State’s ongoing attempts to suppress, persecute and eliminate ethnic and religious minorities within the territories it controls. On March 15, the United States House of Representatives recognized these atrocities as genocide, but in response, Ottawa backtracked on a previous recognition.

Please also join our call to have Canada recognize IS’ atrocities as genocide, and to take steps to prevent further atrocities.

Please feel free to copy and paste our suggested letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and edit as you wish:

Dear Prime Minister:

I am writing to you regarding Canada’s Refugee Transportation Loan Program, which the vast majority of refugees entering our country still pay. Refugees admitted to Canada are expected to pay the government back for all costs related to their screening and flights to our country, plus interest. To date, Canada has made only made an exception to Syrians fleeing Islamic State’s atrocities, while refugees from Iraq and all other armed conflicts are still required to pay.

Although the Government of Canada’s 2016 budget plan to spend $245 million over five years toward processing and resettling 10,000 more Syrian refugees is a good first step, this generosity needs to expand to all refugees fleeing from high-conflict regions undergoing mass human rights abuse and civil war.

I therefore ask your government to:

– Abolish interest from refugee loans;

– Abolish repayment of refugee loans altogether for refugees fleeing from high-conflict regions undergoing mass human rights abuse and civil war; and

– Make the Refugee Transportation / Immigration Loan Program more transparent and understandable to foreigners seeking refuge in Canada.

Furthermore, I ask that your government formally recognize the atrocities committed by Islamic State as genocide in order to provide leadership and impetus to the rest of the international community to also recognize the genocide and take steps to prevent further atrocities. Official acknowledgement that genocide is being committed in the region is a critical first step to opening up both national and international avenues for greater action in terms of humanitarian aid, refugee assistance and international criminal proceedings.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,

TO: Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister

Subject: (ie: Concerns Regarding the Immigration Loan Program)

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NOTE: If the Message field of this form is left blank, our suggested message will not be sent to the Prime Minister's Office!