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Syrian refugee rumours debunked

Jessica Klaver | Interrobang | News | January 18th, 2016

The Liberal Party of Canada campaigned on bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of 2015. We are now two weeks into 2016 and only 7,000 refugees have arrived in Canada out of the 4.3 million still waiting.

Divisive rumours have been spreading across Canada making some Canadians feel unimportant and forgotten.

And rumours they are. The Facebook post that traveled around claiming that Syrian refugees are being given over $60 a day per person for food while welfare recipients in British Columbia only receive $3 a day for food, has been debunked by government officials.

“There is some confusion that funding given to hotels that temporarily house refugees in rooms without kitchenettes are ‘meal allowance rates’,” B.C.’s Ministry of Social Development told CBC News on Jan. 7.

The monthly income support, which includes allowance for food, for a single person living in Vancouver is $235. This is the same amount that a refugee receives, Nancy Chan, a communications adviser in the Immigration Department, told CBC News.

There was also a dispute over whether refugees receive more income support and benefits than pensioners do.

“Refugees do not get more financial help from the federal government than Canadian pensioners do,” the Government of Canada website stated. “The amount of monthly financial support that government-assisted refugees get is based on provincial social assistance rates. It is the minimum amount needed to cover only the most basic food and shelter needs.”

The Government of Canada goes on to remind people “many refugees selected for resettlement to Canada have been forced to flee their country because of extreme hardship…When they arrive in Canada, they must start their lives again in a country very different from their own.”

The government also went on to say, “In keeping with Canada’s proud humanitarian traditions, individuals and families get immediate and essential services and support to help them become established in Canada.”

And also according to the Government of Canada website, refugees receive basic health coverage, supplemental coverage and prescription drug coverage.

“The level of coverage provided through the [Interim Federal Health Program] for supplemental benefits and prescription medications is similar to the level of coverage that may be provided by [provincial or territorial] governments to certain residents, including residents receiving social assistance.”

Refugees not only have to support their families on a low income, but some are struggling to find a place to live.

Sandra Onufryk, a retired librarian helping to privately sponsor a refugee family, has faced great difficulty trying to find them a home.

“Being an affluent, blonde white woman, I’ve never really experienced any prejudice in Canada. And so when someone told me they wouldn’t rent because I was asking about Syrian refugees, I was flabbergasted,” she told the Globe and Mail.

While some refugees are struggling to find a home, others are being assaulted with pepper spray in what police are treating as a hate crime.

“Although the motive for the pepper-spraying is unknown at this time, investigators are treating it as a hate motivated crime, until determined otherwise,” Vancouver Police Sgt. Randy Fincham said in a news release.

The incident occurred on Jan. 8 around 10:30 p.m. when a group of refugees left a “welcome event” held at the Muslim Association of Canada Centre in Vancouver.

A man wearing a white hooded sweater rode up on a bicycle and started spraying the dozens of men, women and children who were waiting out front for a bus.

A witness to the attack, Amar Ramadan, was inside the building when it happened.

“Next thing you know, people are running and screaming, everyone’s dashing inside. A bunch of kids were crying. I was a little confused as to what was happening,” Ramadan told CBC News.

“A guy at the front actually was, like, his eyes were completely covered, he couldn’t see for a whole, like, 20 minutes. Some kids got unconscious because of how strong it was,” Ramadan said. “A bunch of women and children, they were all just affected by it.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver. This isn’t who we are – and doesn’t reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered.”

The Liberal Party of Canada still intends to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by March 1.
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