Letter to Premiers: Protect Refugee Social Assistance

By Citizens for Public Justice

As the Bill C-43, the fall omnibus budget implementation legislation, makes its way through Parliament, its passage seems to be all but assured. The bill includes provisions that will allow provinces and territories to impose a minimum residency requirement for social assistance eligibility. CPJ is especially concerned about the impact this policy will have on vulnerable groups such as refugee claimants.

We joined many others who spoke out against these provision with letters to cabinet ministers and briefs to parliamentary committees. As the government now seems unwilling to change course, the ball will soon be in the Premiers’ court.

That’s why this week, CPJ wrote to the Premiers of each province and territory calling for them to protect refugees from these cuts and not implement the changes Bill C-43 allows them to make. It is our hope that each of them will follow the example of Ontario, whose Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek said last week that they have, “no intention to change our policy as it relates to refugee claimants at all.”

Take Action

If you live outside of Ontario, use CPJ’s letter below to write to your Premier or provincial representative, calling for them to commit to protecting social assistance for refugee claimants


We are writing to express our concern regarding sections 172 and 173 of the federal budget implementation Bill C-43. As we are sure you are aware, these sections would permit provinces and territories to impose a minimum residency requirement for eligibility of social assistance, and we are concerned about the impact such a policy will have on vulnerable groups, particularly refugee claimants.

As an organization inspired by faith to work for justice in Canadian public policy, Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) views our treatment of the most vulnerable among us, including refugees, as a true measure of our society.

At this point, it is too late to prevent the bill from passing as it will soon reach the report stage in the House of Commons. We are therefore inquiring whether your government intends to implement this measure that will make accessing social assistance more difficult for individuals who already face extreme hardship. If you do not intend to do so, we urge you to demonstrate leadership in this regard by publicly stating your opposition to this latest proposed policy.

Attached you will find a brief submitted by CPJ to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration where we expressed the reasoning behind our opposition to sections 172 and 173. We hope that you will take these reasons into consideration when deciding whether or not to implement the provisions of these sections.

Please let us know what your government intends to do in regard to this federal policy.


Joe Gunn

Executive Director

Enc. Protecting the Vulnerable: A call to safeguard social assistance for refugee claimants. Submission to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration


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