How does Canada welcome the stranger?
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35
World Refugee Day – June 20 – was established by the United Nations to honour the courage and determination of those men, women and children who are forced by persecution and conflict to flee their homes.
It is a good time to ask how Canada treats refugees who come here looking for protection. How does Canada respond to those in need? How does Canada welcome the stranger?
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency, in 2012, 45.2 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, generalized violence and human rights violations. This includes refugees and internally displaced peoples.
In 2011, 27,872 refugees – or 0.06166 per cent of the worldwide total of displaced people- came to Canada. This includes government-assisted refugees (7,364), privately sponsored refugees (5,582), refugees who landed in Canada (10,743) and refugee dependants (4,183).
On this day it is important to remember that the Government of Canada cut funding to the Interim Federal Health Program for refugee claimants. According to the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL), these cuts are “wrong and illegal”. The Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care responded to the cuts by launching a campaign asking that the government immediately reinstate heath coverage for refugee claimants.
Canadian Churches have a history of advocating for and protecting refugees both in Canada and overseas. KAIROS joins with civil society and labour organizations in asking you to mark World Refugee Day by urging the Canadian government to reverse its decision to cut health care for refugee claimants. Find out more about this and other steps you can take to assist refugees at the following links: