Prioritization of Equal Treatment of Refugees in Canada
October 12, 2022
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 100 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes, which has grown from the recorded 89.3 million in 2021. These numbers are growing at an alarming rate and the way Canada responds to this humanitarian crisis cannot be overlooked.
As part of the Refugee Next Door campaign, a project of Labour Community Services and Toronto & York Region Labour Council, our goal is to raise awareness on the plight of refugees, counter anti-refugee sentiments and fight racism. A trend that we have observed on refugee selection and relocation to Canada is that some refugees get more attention and resources than others.
With the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel, it has prioritized the entry of Ukrainian refugees to Canada over other refugees, specifically from Afghanistan. Ottawa will only continue to process the 18,000 applications of Afghans to Canada, out of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s initial 40,000 promise. On the other hand, Canada has eliminated normal visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees and the limit of how many can apply for Canadian entry.
Canada should of course open up our doors to refugees from the horrible war in Ukraine, but should also apply the same principle to refugees from all parts of the world such as the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. Our common humanity and respect for human rights dictates that we do just that. Seeking refuge from harm is a basic human right.
Myths about refugees persist. These myths fuel ideas of prejudices, mistrust and alienation of refugees. Some common myths include:
- Too Many Refugees: Canada has just about 4 refugees per 1,000 population, compared to more than 20 refugees per 1,000 in many other countries. Turkey is home to 12 times as many refugees as Canada. Canada hosts only about 1% of the world’s refugees.
- Dependency: Refugees who are actually employed have incomes on par with economic immigrants, very much contradicting the notion that refugees act as a drain for taxpayers and the economy.
- Crime: In just about every country, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the people who were there before them.
The labour movement has a strong and proud history of supporting the relocation of refugees to Canada. Refugees have made Canada stronger; economically and morally.
We would like to set up a meeting with you to further discuss the work of the Refugee Next Door campaign to keep the needs of refugees top of mind for Canadians. If you have any questions or would like to connect with us, please email [email protected].
Refugee Next Door Campaign Committee
Faduma Mohamed, Executive Director, Labour Community Services
Andria Babbington, President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council
Lily Chang, Secretary Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress