We can bring in 200,000 refugees in the next year. Here’s how.

We have the capacity to welcome many more refugees to Canada than our leaders are pledging. What’s lacking is the political will.

Migrants gather in front of Keleti station in central Budapest on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The station was closed today and was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Migrants gather in front of Keleti station in central Budapest on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The station was closed today and was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

“Our country has the most generous immigration and refugee system in the world. We admit, per capita, more people than any other.” Any time Prime Minister Stephen Harper or his ministers are asked about the refugee crisis, they repeat this claim. But, no matter how you twist, spin or stretch those sentences, they remain false.

If measured by migrants (i.e., all new arrivals) per year, per capita, Canada is ranked 24th in the world. If you use the number of arriving immigrants, we are eighth. If you compare immigrants as a proportion of the national population, we are around 49th. These numbers are pretty good, but there is no way you could mistake us for being the most generous.

And refugees? If we consider the total number of refugees hosted, last year, Canada was closer to 20th. Refugees hosted per capita? Not even in the top 30. How about refugees accepted annually? We approved 23,286 last year, which ranks us 15th. At the same time, Germany took seven times more. This year, they will accept at least 35 times as many. Denmark took more than we did, and they have one-seventh the population.

What about just asylum-seekers? Last year, Canada accepted 13,500 asylum claims. Russia accepted 275,000. There is no way you can interpret what Harper says to be anything other than untrue.

Related: Making sense of Canada’s refugee and immigration numbers

I could go off about how contemptible it is for the Prime Minister to repeat a fundamental falsehood about our response to one of the most pressing international crises of this generation. (Disclosure: I’ve been a member of the Conservative party in the recent past, and I am married to a Liberal party candidate. You can read a full disclosure on my LinkedIn page.) I could talk about how little respect this shows the public, and how low our expectations have fallen that we are not shocked at this. But this isn’t only Harper’s leadership failure. The three major federal parties are only offering modest short-term targets. The public, municipal governments and provinces are all proposing higher numbers. But even their expectations are too low. Far more is needed. We have done far more in the past, and we can do far more now. Canada can easily increase its refugee intake to 200,000 over the next 12 months. All it takes is political will.

The United Nations believes the total number of displaced people globally has surpassed 60 million people. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the ongoing refugee crisis as a challenge of historic significance. European leaders are convening emergency meetings to develop a common response. But, in Canada, our federal political leaders can’t even agree to meet and discuss it. One gets the impression that Harper, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair are hoping the issue is going to fade away. It won’t. This week, several sources confirmed that Russian troops are now on the ground in Syria, supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The situation in the Middle East is going to get worse before it gets better.

So what is being proposed? The Conservative party has promised an additional 20,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees over four years, on top of the now-filled 2013 pledge of 1,300 Syrians. The NDP are promising to resettle 10,000 government-sponsored Syrian refugees by the end of 2015, and another 9,000 for each of the next four years. And the Liberals have pledged on the campaign to immediately resettle 25,000 refugees from Syria.

Far more is needed. The refugees crossing the Mediterranean into Europe are only a small fraction of the total in need. There are more than 1.5 million in Turkey who will shortly be facing winter conditions. Lebanon is growing increasingly unstable, as it shelters 344 refugees per 1,000 people, a per capita rate 80 times greater than Canada’s. For years, northern Pakistan has been home to 1.5 million Afghan refugees, who live mainly in extreme conditions of abject poverty. Even in this hemisphere, there are six million internally displaced in Colombia. These numbers continue to grow relentlessly, as they have for more than a decade.

Related: Why we should take 20 times as many refugees

We have done far more in the past. What we are offering to do now is paltry in comparison to earlier refugee crises. In 1956, Canada took in 37,000 Hungarian refugees after the Soviets invaded. In 1979, following the exodus of boat people from Vietnam, Canada accepted 60,000 refugees over an 18-month period. In 1999, 5,000 Kosovo refugees were resettled within a few weeks.

We can do far more now. The current proposals fall well short of our current capacity, logistically, financially or socially. In the last few days, many former civil servants have come forward to point out that Citizenship and Immigration Canada already has contingency plans to accept far more refugees than what is being proposed. The price of doing more is also well within our means. It costs approximately $11,000 in social services to settle a refugee in Canada. At the current rate, we are spending one-tenth of one per cent of the federal budget on resettling refugees. As each party cravenly carves out its own special-interest tax credits and subsidies, it would be extremely easy to find money to address this crisis.

So why don’t the political leaders step up? Perhaps they’re worried about the voters who think we’ve done enough already. The latter appear to be in the minority, but they exist. Much of their opposition is explicitly due to Islamophobia, a fear that letting in Syrians will mean a mosque on every corner. Right now, three per cent of the population is Muslim. The Liberal proposal would increase that by less than one-tenth of one per cent. Not exactly a flood.

Related: Red tape, paperwork, and the Syrian refugee crisis

So, how could we reach a target of 200,000 over the next 12 months? It would take six steps.

First, the federal leaders should talk and agree that the issue is too pressing to be settled after the election, or to be held hostage by partisan politics. Sadly, this step is the hardest.

Second, the government should launch the Emergency Refugee Contingency Plan. This would set in motion a chain of events that includes activating the existing refugee reception centres, mobilizing Canadian military bases to assist in immediate relocation, and sending officials overseas, right to the refugee camps, to begin to identify and screen potential candidates for relocation to Canada.

Third, federal officials should coordinate with the mayors and premiers, who are already pledging to increase the number of refugees in their jurisdictions. Those cities or provinces who that have not yet spoken up should be asked if they will participate.

Related: Our primer on refugees, one of the campaign’s big issues

Fourth, directly engage not only the United Nations, but also the governments of Turkey, Lebanon and the EU. In some cases, local governments (notably, Turkey’s) are preventing the registration of asylum-seekers with the UN, which is hindering the ability of countries such as Canada to increase their intake.

Fifth, immediately process Syrians in Europe who have family ties to Canada. This could be done in as quickly as three days with ministerial assistance.

Finally, the government of Canada and all the major political parties should directly ask Canadians to help by not only sponsoring refugees, but by donating to the cause. Increasing our refugee intake to 200,000 would cost $2.2 billion (or $63 per Canadian). As we were following the 2004 tsunami, the public should be challenged to donate, with each dollar being matched by the government.

If we accepted 200,000 refugees, we would still not have “the most generous immigration and refugee system in the world.” But it would be a significant step forward, and one the rest of the world would notice. But, more important, above all else, it would be the right thing to do.


We can bring in 200,000 refugees in the next year. Here’s how.

  1. Hey Scott, how about you keep your stupid ideas to yourself. We have enough issues, without 200,000 more, who will refuse to integrate into society, and demand we turn into the crash ole they ran from. Fix the problems there, instead of bandaid solutions.

    • What country did YOUR family come from?

      • Would be zero issues if they integrated with the countries they ran to. Instead , they demand we bend to them and their faith, essentially trying to make that country into the one they left. Want to come here? Learn to speak English, clearly, and not demand that everything and everyone bend to your ways. Examples, the Muslim flight attendant fired for not doing her job. And yes, the one in Kentucky is the same, regardless of faith, do your job.

        • Muslims have been here since Confederation…..in fact we have more Muslims than Jews

          Have you converted yet?

          • Yes but they were willing to integrate and build their lives be good nieghbours co workers friends etc now they want to kill us the following quote was from a Muslim conference in Ontairo this past weekend–.”Liberalism, Secularism and Modernism are three satanic idols of the ‘Kufaar’ (Christians, Jews, Hindus etc) that Muslims need to destroy in Canada.”
            An Arab imam speaking to the Friday Islamic Congregation at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, a prayer hall managed by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).
            He compared these three doctrines as equivalent to the three pagan goddesses of Mecca that Prophet Muhammad himself destroyed when he conquered the city.

          • … and the Al Huda Islamic madrasa in Mississauga teaches what?

            The Al Huda school bus driver has said that, every morning, the bus trip to school comprises extreme hate songs (chants) against Christians and Jews.

            I’m just saying.

        • have no problem with them coming in, as long as they are vetted properly and they keep the sick raping criminals out

  2. That’s crap hole, thanks autocorrect.

  3. Do not bring in these people. There are undesirables in there. Do not be swept away. This is a disastere more so for our countries which already has too much crime, unemployment, homelessness. Set up camps over there then recruit the men to fight and destroy isis, after move back to Syria.

  4. Hi Scott: Thanks for your article exposing the federal Conservatives’ dishonest claim that Canada has the most generous immigration system in the world. We not only make it extremely difficult to come to Canada, we make refugees repay the cost of their flight once they get here. We are the only G8 country to do so. The goal of 200,000 refugees next year is laudable, but it must include people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and the rest of this war-ravaged region. The government also much provide much more financial support for newcomer families once they are here! Relying so heavily on private sponsorships (read volunteer charitable groups) is not acceptable.

    • I just love how you people so willingly offer the Tax dollars of Canadians. A Fraser Institute study done 3 years ago pegged the total cost of immigrants and refugees’s to the taxpayer at a staggering $ 23 Billion annually. They are a huge burden on an already faltering economy, our failing health care system, and burdened education system. In Ontario with bloated public salaries taking up over 50% of our total annual budget .. Who is going to pay for the “new Canadians” ? How many of these people is “Scott” going to personally support ? Canada was built on immigrants, those people came to build a life, had work ethic and a dream. Canada was made better as a result. The latest breed of refugee and immigrant seem to come to Canada for our VERY generous ways. They challenge our laws and culture instead of coming to live as Canadians. I don’t want Sharia Law, I want to be able to see the people walking down my streets face. I don’t want “honour” killings nor wife beating.

      Many it would seem leave their rat hole country because of conflict but bring their archaic and barbaric traditions to our shores ..

      I for one DONT want my tax dollars supporting these beliefs .. I’d rather pay off our HUGE deficit that grows daily supporting people that cannot nor will not support OUR Country.

    • Another HDS victim. Why don’t we check the actual stats and discover that for the last few years we have averaged well over 200000 immigrants a year. Oh gosh, how about that. Guess we really don’t need to wallow in liberal guilt after all. She eh!

      • There is a huge difference between refugee and immigrant.

  5. what ever mental midget thinks we can bring in 200000 invaders has to have there heads examined, just to bring them here and land them here by the time the security checks are properly done, and medical and dental. by the time they swear allegiance to our flag and laws…over and above any muslim barbarism and we find housing, adequate and close enough to educate all these people in english or french as required. find enough clothing as its colder here, establish a quarantine for disease control, and once they pass our technical examinations…..starts the real burden on our health care system of 200000 invaders 100000 new borns will arrive as well in the first year for a cost of 1.6 billions to support not counting the 50000 vital life sensitive surgeries that will have to be cancelled to handle the load…in short 50000 of your family members will have to give up there live to allow these people to invade our health system……these people have babies every 10 months forever, and only 20 % ever find jobs….so 200000 in 10 years will be 1.2 million costing 16,000 dollars each to support on welfare…..per year..times 1.2 million is more than our annual budget, and i am not willing to support that…..this is not about buying a bus ticket, this is about a long term investment..and not about some dead kids picture on a beach that is fake, and propaganda to effect the weak minded to feel some guilt trip……….while the muslim countries are accepting zero of these phony refugees……and when they arrive are they starving little boys and girls no men with more money and in better shape than you are. and in a year they will bring there entire family so multiply times 10 again….this is an invasion no more, if you look at where they have arrived in number they are all ready at war with them…germany, belgium , spain, australia, france, hungary, austria, slovakia,croatia, greece, italy, and on and on……battling in the streets for there lives and homes. and you want to bring muslims to canada……WELL ITS LIKE THIS IN A GENERATION OR TWO, YOUR OFFSPRING WILL THINK OF YOU AND YOUR GENEROSITY, AND HOW YOU SOLVED YOUR GUILTY CONSCIENCE, JUST BEFORE THERE BEHEADED………GOOD BYE.

  6. Nice writing , I was enlightened by the facts , Does someone know where my company might be able to grab a sample Refugee in Canada form to complete ?

  7. “Liberalism, Secularism and Modernism are three satanic idols of the ‘Kufaar’ (Christians, Jews, Hindus etc) that Muslims need to destroy in Canada.”
    An Arab imam speaking to the Friday Islamic Congregation at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, a prayer hall managed by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).
    He compared these three doctrines as equivalent to the three pagan goddesses of Mecca that Prophet Muhammad himself destroyed when he conquered the city. This is ok? Or this this quote from a muslim man EFF CANADIAN LAWS LITTLE GIRLS ARE READY FOR SEX AT 9. When he was told sex with children is illegal in Canada.

  8. No! Absolutely not! Scott, have you been paying close attention to what is happening in the Netherlands, England, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Greece just to name a few? I strongly suggest sir, that you get your head out of your body’s lower orifice. I do not want to see the Islamification of Canada. Our country has a culture and a national identity that does not need this. We are happy the way things are. yes we are all immigrants, but our ancestors came here with the intention of blending in. the people coming over from the middle east will attempt to impose their culture and religious ideals on us. this is not acceptable!

  9. This article is very ill-researched and is without ANY legs to stand on and It appears the author is without a clue about the dangers of terrorism, political Islam and above all the flaws in our current multicultural -MultiFaith policies.

    Why wouldn’t any Muslim country accept these refugees as Immigrants to help them settle in? After all, they share the same language, culture and religion. Isn’t it easier for them to integrate in the society they are more familiar with? I have noticed that the majority Muslims are the only religious group that do not integrate into Western culture and society when they immigrate and after they slowly start demanding their own laws on us. Why the Muslims only feel their responsibility is to Palestine but they do not feel responsible toward Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq? Aren’t They Muslims? According to Muslim’s book, Koran, Muslims MUST and have the duty to help their brothers and sisters in times of desperation and need, so why can’t these refugees go to Iran, Qatar, Saudi, name a few? Why West is their destination? This flood of refugee from Middle East and North Africa under the pretext of Syrian civil war is nothing but a plot to invade West and to fulfill the Evil dead khomeini’s vision.

    Following article should be brought to the attention of all who would become involved in bringing in migrants, so that they might properly assess any risks.

    German intel: Migrants will bring anti-Semitism

    By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL \ 10/26/2015 00:45

    German security agencies have raised pressing concerns about the wave of migrants entering the country.

    BERLIN – Germany’s security and intelligence agencies expressed alarm over the influx of refugees and migrants who harbor radical Islamic views and hatred of Jews, according to a Sunday report in Welt am Sonntag.
    According to a security document obtained by the paper and read by top-level agency personnel, “We are importing Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism, national and ethnic conflicts of other peoples as well as a different societal and legal understanding.”
    The newspaper wrote that security sources warn that “the integration of hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants Germany is no longer possible in light of the number and already existing parallel societies.”
    The term “parallel societies” in Germany is frequently defined as insulated Muslim communities that have little or no contact with mainstream society.
    The document, called “the non-paper” because it was not signed, stated: “German security agencies…will not be in the position to solve these imported security problems and thereby the arising reactions from Germany’s population.”
    A senior level security official told the paper that, “The high influx of people from all parts of the world will lead to instability in our land.” The official added, “We are producing extremists through immigration. Mainstream civil society is radicalizing because the majority don’t want migration and they are being forced by the political elite.”
    He predicts that many Germans “will turn away from the constitutional state.” The paper’s exclusive information came from the four major security agencies in Germany – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Federal Intelligence Service, the Federal Police and Federal Criminal Police Office.
    According to the paper, the agencies raised pressing security concerns about the wave of migrants entering Germany.
    The dire warnings from the security agencies and officials appear to be the first governmental statement about Arab anti-Semitism. In early October, in a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, raised the community’s concern about Jew-hatred from immigrants and refugees from Muslim-majority countries.
    He told Die Welt daily, that “among the people, who have sought refuge in Germany, many come from countries in which Israel is an enemy and are raised with this hostility toward Israel.”
    He said the migrants “frequently carry over their resentments toward all Jews in general.”
    Merkel assured Schuster for that reason, “We must take care of that.” She offered no specifics.
    Meanwhile, Austria accused Germany on Saturday of absorbing too few refugees. Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told the country’s largest paper, Kronen: “We are at the limit. Some 6,500 refugees travel every day to Austria and Germany only takes 4,500. Germany actually takes too few refugees.”

    Benjamin Weinthal, “German intel: Migrants will bring anti-Semitism,” jpost.com, 26 October 2015, http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/German-intel-Migrants-will-bring-anti-Semitism-430058 (accessed 26 October 2015).

  10. An Excellent answer to Maclean:
    GATES CLOSED: Japan adamant about not taking in muslim ‘refugees’; says it must look after its citizens first
    Japan’s prime minister said Tuesday that his nation needs to attend to its own demographic challenges posed by falling birth rates and an aging population before opening its doors to refugees.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced at the U.N. General Assembly that Japan is ramping up assistance in response to the exodus of refugees to Europe from the Middle East and Africa.

    He said Japan will provide $1.5 billion in emergency aid for refugees and for stabilization of communities facing upheaval. But speaking to reporters later Tuesday he poured cold water on the idea of Japan opening its doors to those fleeing.

    “I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants”

    – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

    He said Japan first needed to attend to domestic challenges which he proposes to tackle under a revamped economic policy that aims to boost GDP to a post-war record level, while bolstering the social security system to support families.

    “As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants,” Abe told a news conference, according to the official translation of his comments.

    He added that Japan would “discharge our own responsibility” in addressing the refugee crisis, which he described as helping to improve conditions that cause the exodus.

    Abe earlier told the world body that Japan would provide $810 million this year for emergency assistance of refugees and internally displaced persons from Syria and Iraq, triple what it gave last year. Abe said Japan is also preparing about $750 million for stabilization efforts in the Middle East and Africa.

    Japan prides itself on being a good

  11. Or we could bring zero. I do not want to subject my children to what is happening in Europe. People fought for our freedom. And we do have enough issues. Unemployment rate of 7%, federal debt, provincial debts. Saudi Arabi has offered to provide money to build mosques but they will not take any people. NATO needs to clean this up.

    A migrant is a person who makes a conscious choice to leave their country to seek a better life elsewhere. They are free to return home at any time. Refugees are forced to leave their country because they are at risk of, or have experienced persecution. If they have a “preferred destination” and are seeking a better way of life, they are migrants. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PcKdEgIc5s

    • Correct! They are NOT refugees or they’d kiss the ground they landed on, not demand to go here and there, complain about food, the water, etc., go on hunger strikes.

  12. Now calculate the cost of the other ten family members that each of these 200000 migrants (yes, let’s use the correct term) will bring to Canada. I believe we will already have brought in around 260000 immigrants this year. When is enough enough? How about now?

  13. Enough moral posing. There is a serious problem in that Muslims want Sharia and don’t believe in man-made law. We didn’t make Syria. We are not obligated to help them. Let their own people help them.

  14. We must stop public funding for ALL religious education.

    We must introduce a limit on mosque/madrasa development.

    We must not permit segregation of male students (for example).

    Before it’s too late.

  15. We keep bringing in fundamentalists and members of hate groups and clans.who can not and will not assimilate, so commit fraud on there application forms or lie…they must be willing to accept our culture, and that means our many religions, and laws…..and be able to call them self Canadians and have no loyalty to where there from only where they are. This is something that no follower of Islam can possible comply with, so in breach of there visa or immigration agreement , they should all be deported, and there fraudulent act of lying on official documentation allows Canada to immediate deportation without contest. This is referenced from current immigration laws. Proof of non assimilation is the girl last week in Windsor, Ontario that wanted to assimilate , and was killed in a honor killing by her own family. The government can find no one that wants Muslims to live in there rental space., so half of the Muslim invaders are being housed on military bases, complete with mosques, prayer mats, Koran bibles and halal food…..contributing zero to our society and will cost us billions forever as they can never repay the 666,666 per person there costing per year.There is no need to bribe None Islam followers , they are lined up to come here in droves and it is that these people are not refugees or victims as they rape and commit crimes across Europe……., Syrian refugees are not Islamic but almost every other religion Jewish, Christian, Yazidi, Kurds ect. and non have them have been in a war zone for years..personally i would prefer 350,000 blonde female immigrants from Sweden to avoid being the rape capital of the planet.
    your owned by the government , so i believe nothing you , say anyway, and think your , government puppets.

Sign in to comment.