Canada to pay failed refugee claimants to leave the country

The Canadian government has announced they will pay some failed refugee claimants up to CAD$2,000 to leave the country and will also pay for a one-way plane ticket.

The new pilot project, run by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), was launched last week in the Greater Toronto Area. The IOM has been in charge of implementing similar projects in other countries.

The Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration pilot program is available for refugee claimants whose applications have been rejected and whose appeals have failed. While it is up to the CBSA to enforce their removal, the federal government is now providing an incentive for them to leave without the necessity of enforcement action. CBSA hopes that more failed refugee claimants will choose to leave voluntarily so that the government does not have to intervene to forcibly remove them from Canada.

Eligible refugee claimants will receive a one-way plane ticket back to their country of origin and up to CAD$2,000. The money, however, is to be used to help the unsuccessful refugee claimant find a job, set up a business or go back to school.

"A voluntary return offers you a way to return home with support, dignity and anonymity," CBSA said.

The amount of money you will receive depends on the current stage in the appeal process following your initial rejection. You will receive the maximum amount if you have not as yet started the appeal process. Applicants are eligible for the full $2,000 if they apply before going to the federal court for a review of the decision, $1,500 if they apply before asking for a pre-removal risk assessment and $1,000 if they have already made that application and received a decision.

As an added incentive until July 13, applicants will be eligible for the full $2,000 even if they have already filed appeals.

However, critics have described the scheme as a "bribe" to keep refugee cases away from the courts.

"The idea is to incentive people to execute their own removal order, which in principle, I don't really have a problem with," Toronto immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk claimed. "Except for the fact that … what it is also doing is incentivizing people not to seek judicial review of the refugee board's decision in federal court."

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