Re: Worried about impact, Letters to the Editor, Burnaby NOW, Jan. 30.
Coreen Kerr is right to be concerned about the state of our social security system, but refugees are not to blame here.
Refugees have very limited access to income assistance from the government. If they are entitled to some form of assistance, it is usually time limited and set at the provincial social assistance rates. These rates, as many articles on the problems of poverty in Canada have demonstrated over and over again, do not meet basic survival needs (e.g. food and shelter). The most recent example demonstrating this is when B.C. MLA Jagrup Brar attempted to live off social assistance for one month and barely made it through.
Refugees are also required to pay back transportation and medical costs to the government and consequently, many start their life in Canada in debt.
As the Canadian Council for Refugees and many others have pointed out, Ms. Kerr's beliefs are based on an urban myth circulating since 2004 when the Toronto Star newspaper published this mistaken information. Most refugees, as they flee their country, are not thinking about collecting an old-age pension. They are simply looking for a safe haven as they try to piece their life back together.
Wendy Chan, Burnaby