For Immediate Release
October 28, 2014
The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) is deeply disappointed to learn that the Government of Canada plans to use an omnibus budget bill to avoid scrutiny of its decision to fundamentally alter its relationship with the provinces and territories regarding social assistance for refugee claimants.
The intent of prohibiting a minimum residency requirement for refugee claimants is to safeguard equitable access to social assistance across Canada. This new omnibus bill would allow provinces and territories to impose a minimum residency requirement on refugees to access social assistance.
“If passed as presented, the federal government will effectively remove any accountability measures that help protect the equitable delivery of social assistance to the most vulnerable populations welcomed into Canada” stated CASW President Morel Caissie. “The motivation to remove the only accountability mechanism inherent in the transfer of billions of dollars to the provinces and territories in support of social services is remarkably unclear,” notes Caissie.
Presently, the Canada Social Transfer (CST) is the primary source of federal funding in Canada that supports provincial and territorial social programs. Current federal legislation dictates only one condition to the CST: that no minimum residency requirement blocking refugees’ timely access to necessary social services be imposed.
“The Government of Canada is responsible for welcoming refugees into our great country” states Caissie. “And with this responsibility should come, at minimum, the assurance of equitable access to basic social services regardless of the province or territory in which a refugee chooses to settle.”
For more information:
Fred Phelps, MSW, RSW