Successfully integrating refugees into Canadian society is likely to be a long, difficult, and expensive process.
Let’s be clear: refugee claimants are a very different breed from ordinary immigrants. Members of the second group have not necessarily suffered the violence, persecution, or discrimination of the first.
Your average refugee has very likely endured some form of trauma or psychological, physical, and sexual abuse, leading to multiple medical, emotional, and psychological issues that need to be addressed for successful integration to occur.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has gained a reputation for being welcoming to refugees, even if some view the politically opportunistic selfie-taking as a little too much.
Yet serious challenges persist. Understandably, it takes refugees longer to find employment, permanent housing, and to end their reliance on community services such as food banks.
Almost 40% of Toronto’s emergency shelter system is now occupied by refugee claimants and the city has been scrambling to house them in everything from regular shelter beds to college dorms and hotels–one of which the city even considered buying, before deciding against the idea.
And it’s not just happening in Toronto, where Premier Doug Ford’s government says the Trudeau Liberals have only reimbursed the province for a fraction of the $200 million it has already spent accommodating refugee claimants.
The same thing has happened in Quebec—where most irregular/undocumented asylum seekers cross into Canada—and in Manitoba, another border crossing site.
The root problem is that the Trudeau government—and, in fairness, previous governments, did much the same–sets refugee policy without meaningful consultation with the cities and provinces that end up bearing the bulk of the costs.
Critics say the response of the Trudeau government to the expression of such legitimate concerns has been to falsely accuse those raising them of fear-mongering about refugee claimants, which is nonsense. This is an issue about providing adequate funding and resources to provinces and cities so that they can provide proper support to refugees.
While the Trudeau government has earmarked funds to this end, it hasn’t provided the sufficient amount to do the job right.
Trudeau loves boasting about Canada’s diversity and willingness to assist refugees. Given that, it’s time for him to take responsibility for the increased costs to other levels of government his refugee policies have created.