Wednesday, August 27th19.4°C
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Ron Cannan

Correcting refugee information

For several years, a persistent chain e-mail has been circulating claiming that refugees receive significantly more money in income assistance than Canadians collecting a pension. The e-mail states that the monthly entitlement for single refugees under the Refugee Assistance Program (RAP) is $1,890. 

This information is incorrect.

Financial assistance under the RAP is provided to a limited number of government-assisted refugees who entered Canada as permanent residents and are not entitled to income support under provincial social assistance programs.

On this basis, a limited number of refugees who qualify under the RAP are allowed a one-time “start-up” amount of up to $1,830 to cover essentials like staples, furniture and clothing. They also receive a temporary monthly allowance for food and shelter that is based on provincial social assistance rates. In BC this is approximately $610. This assistance is temporary — lasting only for one year or until they can find a job, whichever comes first.

Another persistent rumour is that refugees and new immigrants qualify for OAS after living in Canada for as little as two years. Again this is incorrect. In order to qualify for OAS, there is a 10 year residency requirement after age 18. 

More recently, proposed changes to health care for refugees under Bill C-31 has also generated misinformation, including claims that the changes are dangerous or unethical.

There is no change in Interim Federal Health coverage for treatments affecting public health and public safety. Treatment, including prescription medications, will continue to be provided to all refugee claimants for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV, and for other medications necessary to protect public health and safety, such as anti-psychotic drugs. 
 
Nor is there any change to primary health care for the vast majority of refugee claimants, who will continue to have access to the full range of basic doctor and hospital services that all Canadians receive through their provincial health care system, including treatment for chronic disease.  Importantly, all refugee claimants are provided, free of charge, an Immigration Medical Exam, which screens claimants for disease and provides the preventative health care that critics claim is being lost.  And, of course, as soon as a refugee claimant is found to be a genuine refugee, he or she has access to the full benefits of the provincial health care system.
 
What is changing is that bogus asylum seekers, including those whose claims have been rejected but who refuse to leave Canada, will no longer receive, at taxpayer expense, enhanced health services such as eye and dental coverage that are unavailable to many ordinary Canadians.  
 
Nor will “asylum seekers” from safe countries, such as the liberal democracies of the European Union or the United States, continue to receive the full range of basic and supplemental health care coverage, though they will still receive urgent or essential medical care, including hospital treatment, and any prescription drugs and treatment necessary to address a public health or safety risk, such as an infectious disease.  These changes go hand in hand with the introduction of reforms to speed up the processing of asylum claims from safe countries, meaning that these asylum seekers will have their claims heard in a matter of weeks, rather than years, as is currently the case.  Health coverage for these claimants is, therefore, only a short interim measure.
 
These are reasonable, measured changes to stop the abuse of Canada’s generous and overburdened health care system by bogus asylum claimants, and especially by those that have already been rejected by our fair and independent refugee determination system but who refuse to return home, preferring to enjoy generous welfare and health care benefits that even honest, hard-working Canadians do not receive.

As with all of the above, I encourage constituents to be cautious about believing, and then sharing, incorrect information without first seeking clarification. Unfortunately, fear mongering remains an effective way of swaying public opinion particularly if you factor in the speed and breadth misinformation travels via e-mail and the internet.

The good news is the internet also makes it easier to be better informed. Access to information about the Government of Canada and Parliament is available at www.gc.ca and www.parl.gc.ca. Additionally, my office is always available to help clarify your concerns, so feel free to contact me at [email protected] or by calling 250 470-5075.

Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country.



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About the author...

Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections.  He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and Regional Government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa.

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chamber of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, women’s resources and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

He is also a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates.

In previous Parliaments Ron has been a member of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee, the Human Resources and Social Development Committee, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and Co-chair of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine, in particular those vintages not readily available through provincial liquor control outlets.  His motion is now a bill before the House of Commons sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which is well on its way to being passed.  Passage of the bill will create awareness and boost sales for some of Canada’s smaller wineries while generating national pride and international recognition of the award winning efforts of Canada’s vintners.
The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections.  He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and Regional Government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chamber of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, women’s resources and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

He is also a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates.

In previous Parliaments Ron has been a member of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee, the Human Resources and Social Development Committee, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218 (formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine.  His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012. 

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.
 

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee.  He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy and daughters Amanda, Ashley and Amy and his grandsons Marcel and Nolan.  His hobbies include music and sports.







The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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