After several weeks of collecting questions from curious residents about immigrants and newcomers , the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council has released the first batch of answers to those inquiries.
“I am very grateful that people have engaged with this. I’m still hoping to receive more questions, but I have enough to get this series going and have a good idea of the common topics which locals wonder about,” said Kaleigh Pousett, community connections co-ordinator. “I hope that as people read, it will prompt more questions. I’m very encouraged by the engagement so far!”
The first three questions — which Pousett answered — focus on financial assistance, dental and medical benefits, and vehicles. The answers have been edited for grammar and punctuation.
What financial assistance is provided to newcomers and what are the various sources of funding (government, community fundraising, etc.)?
Great question! A newcomer’s immigration category is what determines their financial assistance.
Government-assisted refugees (GARs) who cannot support themselves receive funds for their first year in Canada. This includes a monthly stipend based on family size and provincial social assistance rates and one-time startup allowances for housing setup, clothing, etc. You can find all these rates online by searching “Resettlement Assistance Program rates.”
Also, they can get a loan for the cost of travel to Canada and the required medical pre-screening. The loan repayment period begins after their first year in Canada.
Other newcomers — economic and family class, privately sponsored refugees — are eligible for widely available assistance such as the Child Benefit, GST/HST Tax Credit, Disability, etc.
They are either a) financially self-sufficient, b) supported by their family members in Canada, or c) receive support from their sponsoring group, such as churches or community organizations.
Fundraising may happen in any case. Groups privately sponsoring refugees rely solely on fundraising to support the newcomer(s) for whom they are responsible. Non-profits working with newcomers fundraise to pay for program expenses not paid for by the government.
If you want to do more research, the Government of Canada website has lots of information about what supports are available for newcomers.
I heard that immigrants are eligible for full dental and medical benefits and also receive more money per month than someone who has worked in Canada all their lives — true?
False. There is lots of misinformation out there about this, so we are glad you asked!
Immigrants with permanent residency status are only eligible for the same provincial public health insurance as Canadians. Temporary residents are not covered and must pay for health care themselves. If immigrants do receive money, it is based on provincial social assistance rates and is similar to the Canadian Pension Plan.
Why do new Canadians drive brand-new vehicles?
Firstly, not all immigrants arrive with nothing. Some come for business, family, education, etc., and can afford to buy a new vehicle with their own money. Secondly, people spend their money on what they prioritize, whether they can afford it or not. This is common regardless of demographic: people make financial sacrifices based on what they value, from a new car to the newest phone.
Thirdly, people are resourceful. Their nice new car may be from an auction or a good connection. If you wonder more generally where they get their money from, see the response to question No. 1.
These answers are the first in a Q&A series that the Moose Jaw Multicultural Culture plans to release about immigrants and newcomers. The organization still welcomes questions from residents for this project. Stay tuned for similar stories in the future.