NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Canada: Open Invitation for Refugee Claimants

February 23, 2004

In this post 9/11 era, immigration policies have become increasingly important as a line of defense against would-be terrorists. Indeed, most developed countries have sought to deter abuse and control the flow of illegal immigration, while at the same time protecting those in genuine need against persecution.

However, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute, Canada is noticeably out of step with international norms, thus cementing its place as the most favored destination for refugees -- legal or otherwise.

The study describes Canada as remaining committed to liberal policies that emphasize the provision of humanitarian assistance over the reduction of security risks. The policies of Canada differ from those in most developed countries in many ways:

  • By making a refugee claim, asylum seekers are provided with a generous package of social benefits.
  • Canada shows little interest in introducing policies that block or frustrate the entry of illegal immigrants.
  • Nearly all refugee claimants are given the opportunity to integrate into the community, thus making deportation of illegal immigrants -- already a low priority -- politically impractical.

Furthermore, Canada has a backlog of more than 50,000 claims. This phenomenon has emboldened those within the people smuggling industry, as these accumulating claims may lead to less vigilance, eased determination criteria or amnesty.

Overall, Canada ranks seventh among developed nations in total refugee claims on a per-capita basis. The study notes this ranking is highly conservative because, unlike Canada, many of these countries refuse to consider applications of the majority of their refugee claimants.

Source: Stephen Gallagher, "Canada's Dysfunctional Refugee Determination System: Canadian Asylum Policy from a Comparative Perspective," Public Policy Sources No. 78, Fraser Institute, December 2003.

For text


Browse more articles on Government Issues