Canada’s Refugee System Has Shovelled Billions To Abusers


From “Abusing Canada’s Generosity and Ignoring Genuine Refugees”
By James Bissett
Published By Frontier Centre for Public Policy

It is estimated that roughly 800,000 asylum seekers entered Canada (between 1985 and 2010).  In the years 2008 to 2010, over 70,000 claims were registered. This is almost 3,000 per month, and considering there is already a backlog of  approximately 60,000 claims before the IRB,  , it is not alarmist to think that the system is out of control.

( Editor’s Note : IRB means Immigration and Refugee Board, a group of lay people who determine whether a person is eligible to be given refugee status)

In 2009, Canada became the third-largest receiver of asylum seekers (33,000) in the Western world after the United States (49,000) and France (42,000). On a per capita basis, however, we rank number one with one claim for every 1,000 people compared with the United States with one claim per 11,000 people.

Perhaps the most insidious feature of Canada’s asylum system has been its enormous financial cost and the naïve presumption that the sums involved are justified because we are in fact helping refugees.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the actual costs because they are spread over three levels of government—­federal, provincial and local—­and involve a wide variety of activities such as housing, welfare, legal fees, medical care and, of course, the operational cost of the IRB itself, which (amounted to)  just over $117-million in 2010).

The chameleon-like character of asylum seekers also makes it difficult to determine costs. Asylum seekers undergo a transformation of status after arriving in Canada. If the IRB refuses their claim, they become a failed asylum seeker and are subject to removal pending any appeals submitted. However, if their claim is accepted, they are given refugee status. Then, as a refugee, they are eligible to apply for permanent residence status, and if accepted, their status changes to that of immigrant. Different costs are involved at each stage of the transformation of status.

In 2008, Canada received 37,000 asylum seekers and approximately 60 per cent of these will be refused refugee status by the IRB. Since the government estimates each failed asylum seeker costs $50,000 we can calculate that in 2008 the taxpayers faced a bill of approximately $1.11-billion just to deal with the number of refused cases in the 2008 flow.

Added to the costs are those required to deal with the existing backlog (of 60,000). Even if the costs of the 2008 failed cases are subtracted from the backlog, its numbers have been supplemented by the 33,000 new asylum arrivals in 2009 so the back-log figure of 60,000 would remain at approximately the current level. The costs of dealing with its failure rate of approximately 60 percent would be close to $1.8-billion.

Unfortunately, we are not told if the $50,000 cost figure for failed cases is an annual cost or if it is the total cost involved from refusal of the claimant to eventual removal from Canada. Nor are we informed of the costs of those asylum seekers who are given refugee status by the IRB. The costs do not end when the asylum seeker becomes a refugee.

Although it may never be possible to determine the true cost of our asylum system it is obvious that the current system is terribly expensive and cries out for reform.

John L. Manion, who was a senior bureaucrat experienced in government financing, a former Deputy Minister of Immigration, Secretary of the Treasury Board, and Associate Clerk of the Privy Council, thought the costs of Canada’s dysfunctional asylum system were in the billions of dollars. (Editor’s Note : Manion estimated the cost of the refugee system to be a significant part of the total of $4 Billion spent per year on immigration and refugee programs.) After his retirement, he wrote letters to two immigration ministers, Sergio Marchi and Elinor Caplan, urging them to initiate reform of the system even if it meant using the notwithstanding clause of the Charter. He did not even get an acknowledgement to his letters.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration has a lavish grants program that gives money to organizations, agencies and community groups that help immigrants and refugees become settled and that assist them in finding employment, language training and housing. The money is often channelled through agreements with the provinces or given directly to specific agencies. The allocation for 2010-2011 for Alberta was $60-million; British Columbia, $114-million; Ontario, $408-million; and Quebec, $253.7-million. The remaining provinces and territories received $57.7-million, for a total of $893.4-million. Asylum seekers are the beneficiaries of some of this funding.

Asylum seekers also receive services from organizations and groups that are given direct financial grants from Citizenship and Immigration. In the period from October 1 to December 31, 2009, almost 200 agencies across Canada received grants of more than $25,000. Sixty of those agencies were awarded contributions in excess of $1-million. For example, the South Asian Family Support Services of Toronto received $13-million, the Settlement and Integration Services of Hamilton received $9-million, and nine Ottawa-area groups received $9.5-million (Disclosure, 2010).

The total allotted for contributions to the settlement program in the Main Estimates for 2010-2011 was $651,749,278. Canadians pay a high price for an asylum system that finds 60 per cent of those assisted to be false refugees. It becomes even more scandalous when compared with the cost of other organizations or programs. One can only surmise what an injection of $2-billion to $3-billion more would do if directed at improving Canada’s health or educational programs or reducing the deficit. In a time of alleged austerity and government deficits, it would seem there is no shortage of funding for refugees and immigrants.

Prior to the 1990s, it was expected that the immigrants selected to join the labour force would become established within a year and those sponsored by their relatives in Canada would be looked after by the sponsoring family and would not be eligible for government assistance. Even refugees selected from camps abroad were expected to be on their own within a year, and they could expect only minimal financial help during their first year in Canada.

Why is it now assumed that immigrants and refugees require massive injections of tax dollars to help them become established in their new country? Could it be that government funding to ethnic and other groups dedicated to helping refugees and immigrants is designed more to enlist the political support of these groups than it is to provide help to needy newcomers? These handouts are not widely publicized by government, and few Canadians are aware of the millions of dollars devoted to these programs.


James Bissett is a former Canadian ambassador with 36 years of service in the government of Canada. He was the Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Albania, and the High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago. From 1985 to 1990, he was the executive director of the Canadian Immigration Service.


Le programme Canadien d’aide aux refugies encore sens dessus dessous.

Extrait de: “Abus de la generosite du Canada et negligence envers les veritables refugies.”

Par James Bissett

Traduis par A. W.
Le Canada permet un acces illimite a son programme de refugies, comme aucun autre pays au monde ne le fait.

Le Canada est un des rares pays qui permet a quiconque venu de quelque endroit que ce soit de faire une demande d’asile et d’appliquer pour le statut de refugie.
(Editeur 1: Entre 1985 et 2010, approximativement 800.000 personnes ont applique pour et obtenu le statut de refugie. Autour de 60% de ces demandes ont ete prove frauduleuses. Le but de ces personnes a ete d’obtenir le statut de refugie  et ensuite le residence permanente, et finalement d’amener d’autres personnes ici. C’est pour cela que,depuis de nombreuses annees, ce systeme a ete frequemment denonce comme etant un programme d’immigration alternative. )

(Editeur 2 : De plus, chaque annees, notre department d’immigration ainsi que des organisations privees telle que des eglises vont dans des camps de refugies a l’etranger chercher pres de dix milles personnes annuellement.)
Les pays de l’Union Europeenne ont il y a deja longtemps mis en place un systeme de pre selection afin de deceler les demandes frauduleuses ou sans fondement valable, et ont diminue le temps requis pour traiter les demandes de personnes originaires de pays consideres comme securitaires.

De nombreux pays ont egalement diminue les prestations d’aide sociale et autres services destines aux demandeurs d’asile, et d’autre n’autorisent pas ces personnes a travailler. Ces mesures ont ete mises en place afin que les demandeurs illegitimes qui sont en fait des immigrants illegaux ne  congestionnent pas le systeme en place.

(Editeur 3 : Recemment le precedent minister de l’immigration Jason Kenney a contribute a regler le problem des demandeurs venant de pays consideres securitaires qui abusaient de notre systeme en etablissant une liste de pays securitaires desquels les demandeurs verront leur applications rejetees.)
Au sein de notre systeme actuel, il n’y a pas de procedures efficaces pour separer les demandes visiblement sans fondements valables des demandes authentiques.

En consequence, tous ceux qui soumettent une demande beneficient d’une audition quasi judiciaire devant la Commission de l’immigration et du statut de refugie, pour determiner de l’authenticite de leur demande.

Dans la plupart des cas, le demandeur recoit egalement une assistance legale gratuite quand il se presente devant la commission.

Et pourtant,bien que la commission determine que soixante pour cent des demandes soient invalides,les demandes sont tellement nombreuses qu’un delai de deux ans peut s’ecouler avant que ces dernieres soient entendues. Pendant ce temps,les demandeurs ont droit a l’aide sociale, aux soins de sante gratuitset autres services, ainsi qu’a l’autorisation de travailler au Canada.
De plus, meme si la commission conclut que le demandeur n’est pas un veritable refugie,un serie d’appels sont disponibles pour determiner si il y a des raisons humanitaires qui font en sorte que le demandeur soit autorise a rester dans le pays. Ajoutons a cela le fait qu’un demandeur ne peut etre renvoye dans son pays si il y a une possibilite que cette personne soit torture ou tuee un fois rentree dans son pays. Plus le demandeur reste au Canada, plus les possibilities qu’il soit expulse sont reduites. Le temps joue en faveur du demandeur. Un prolongement de son sejour ici signifie que les autorites sont incapables ou reticentes a mener a terme le long processus couteux desagreable de deportation.

En consequence,des milliers d’individus dont la cause a ete rejetee reussissent a rester,ajoutant par cela a l’attrait que le Canada inspire a d’autres  qui desirent utiliser le processus de demande d’asile afin d’emigrer ici. La regle du jeu est d’arriver a entrer au pays. Pour de nombreux demandeurs, que leur demande soit acceptee ou rejetee est sans importance reelle. Ils resteront.
En moyenne, quatre annees et demi sont necessaires apres le debut de sa demarche afin qu’un individu dont la demande a ete rejetee soit expulse. Dans certains cas, ce delai peut aller jusqu’a dix ans ou plus. Plus souvent qu’autrement,l’individu devient introuvable ou alors est eventuellement autorise a rester au pays.

Dans le rapport de 2007 du  bureau du Verificateur General, il est mentionne qu’il y avait 42.000 mandats d’arrestations pour des demandeurs dont la demande avait ete rejetee, et qui etaient devenus introuvables,et de 15.000 autres dont les addresses etaient presemement connues des autorites.
L’expulsion par la force des individus dont la la demande n’a pas ete acceptee est une procedure difficile et couteuse, frequemment semee de detresse emotionelle et de publicite negative quand l’eglise ou autre organization qui offre  sanctuaire defend une cause.

De tres  nombreux demandeurs d’asile arrivent soit avec des faux ou alors sans  sans aucuns documents, avec le resultat qu’on ne sait pas ou les renvoyer au moment de les expulser

Il est souvent impossible d’obtenir des les documents necessaires au voyage la part de leurs pays d’origine.

Le cout des expulsions  entre $1500 et $15,000 chacunmais peut aller jusqu’a $300,000.  Dans le cadre nouvelles  mesures mise en place par le ministre de l’immigration, Jason Kenney, il est estime que le cout des expulsions pour cinq  totalise la somme de $540 millions.

Ce montant pourrait etre reduit considerablement si, a l’arrivee, il y avait un systeme de selection rapide et efficace, qui permettait le depistage de demandes frauduleuses.

Sans la possibilite d’expulsions dans un delai de 48 heures, la tache  d’executer celles ci par la suite devient problematique.

James Bissett est un ex ambassadeur du Canada avec 36 ans au service du pays. Il a ete notre ambassadeur en Yougoslavie, Bulgarie, Albanie et notre Haut Commissaire a Trinidad et Tobago. Entre 1985 et 1990, il a ete le directeur executif du service d’immigration Canadien.