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From Our Bishops

Primate, Archbishops urge federal government to protect refugees

To the Honourable Joe Oliver, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Finance

Dear Minister:

We are writing to you, as leaders of 32 Anglican Dioceses throughout Canada, to express our concern regarding the provisions contained in paragraphs 172 and 173 of the omnibus budget bill, C-43. These provisions, if passed, would allow provinces to impose residency requirements on refugee claimants and other vulnerable people seeking Canada’s protection. It is our position that this permissive action on the part of the federal government creates an inequitable exclusion of certain vulnerable persons from an acceptable basic standard of living.

Our Christian convictions call us to welcome the stranger and to share our resources with those in need (Matthew 25: 31-35). In living out this commitment, our congregations, as partners with the Government of Canada, have sponsored thousands of refugees from around the world over the past 30 years, assisting them financially, socially, and spiritually as they adjust to their new circumstances in Canada. As a result of this work we have direct experience of the challenges refugees face as they begin life in Canada. Many struggle to find work, particularly those who suffer from physical or mental health conditions or experience significant language barriers. Social assistance, for many, is the only way they are able to secure adequate food, clothing, and shelter as they seek to rebuild their lives.

In abdicating the national standard of the Canada Social Transfer, the Government of Canada risks the creation of a patchwork of provincial regulations that may also have larger implications with respect to federal-provincial relations. Imagine the severe challenges for family reunification that would result, for instance, if a populous province were to impose residency restrictions while other provinces did not.

Canada has a strong tradition of extending compassion and care to those fleeing violence and persecution in their home country. We believe that Canadians remain committed to the principles of equity and our responsibility to assist our most vulnerable neighbours that are implicit in the existing national standard. For this reason, we join our voices to many other organizations in calling on the Government to remove paragraphs 172 and 173 from Bill C-43. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with you further and look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,

The Most Rev. Fred J. Hiltz
Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

The Most Rev. Colin R. Johnson
Metropolitan of Ontario

The Most Rev. John E. Privett
Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon