HALCO and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network made submissions to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to recommend that sections 172 and 173 of Budget Bill C-43 be withdrawn.
If passed, sections 172 and 173 of Budget Bill C-43 will have serious implications for the health and welfare of refugee claimants and many others awaiting permanent status in Canada. Without losing any of their Canada Social Transfer payments, provinces and territories could impose a residency requirement on people with certain types of immigration status in Canada. Provincial governments would be allowed to disentitle refugee claimants, refused refugees, and other people without permanent resident status to social assistance income supports until they meet a minimum residency requirement.
As a result, refugee claimants and other people without permanent status in Canada could lose access to what may be their only source of income. While some people in these circumstances may be eligible for a work permit, it takes weeks, if not months, for a permit to be approved and issued.
Without access to social assistance, many people seeking refuge in Canada will be unable to feed, house, or clothe themselves and their families. They will be forced to turn to already overburdened charities and shelters. Many will inevitably end up on the street.
To receive social assistance in any province, one must already qualify and demonstrate great need. To then deny social assistance based on immigration status is to deny the most vulnerable in our society the crucial lifeline that allows them to survive. Limiting access to social assistance would have severe negative impacts for refugee claimants and other people awaiting permanent resident status who are living with HIV.
Undue stress and instability disproportionately impact people with HIV. People with HIV need a safe place to store the anti-retroviral medications that are key to managing their illness. People with HIV also need proper nutrition in order to tolerate anti-retroviral medications and promote the best possible immune response.
For more information, please see the submissions: www.halco.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Bill_C-43_Submission_to_CIMM_2014Nov7.pdf.