Refugees and Transportation Loans

A myth exists that it costs Canada a lot of money to resettle refugees from abroad.  “Why,” I am sometimes asked, “should my tax dollars pay to fly someone from Rwanda to Canada?”

The short answer is: they don’t.

The longer answer is that the cost of transporting refugees from abroad to Canada is shared between the International Organization for Migration, and the Government of Canada.  The Government of Canada’s portion is $10,000, and is actually structured as a loan to the refugee through the Immigration Loans Program.  In other words, the refugee is expected to repay the Government of Canada for transporting him/her to Canada.

Surrey mayor Dianne Watts recently highlighted the Immigration Loans Program when she called on the federal government to drop the Transportation Loan to refugees.  The Province story on her statements summarized the loan as:

Officials with Citizenship and Immigration Canada told The Province that individual refugees may be responsible to repay up to $10,000 per person under the Immigrant Loans Program to cover the costs of medical examinations abroad, travel documents and transportation to Canada.

 

“The maximum amount of the loan the refugee would pay is $10,000, as there’s a cap,” said a CIC official. “Loans in excess of that amount are paid for by the IOM [International Organization for Migration]. So the refugee pays zero dollars to $10,000, then IOM would pay the remainder if it’s over $10,000.

The loan is not merely a black hole of non-repayment.  In a 2008 Report to Parliament, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (the most recent report that I could find) stated that the repayment rate currently exceed 91%.

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