Resettling refugees is a proud and important part of Canada’s humanitarian tradition. It reflects our commitment to Canadians and demonstrates to the world that we have a shared responsibility to help people who are displaced and persecuted.

There are a number of myths that surround Canada’s refugee resettlement. Here are some of those myths and the facts.

MYTH: Canada does more than its share to assist refugees and refugee claimants when compared to other countries.

FACT: Only a small minority of refugees come to the world’s richest countries, including Canada. Canada has just about 4 refugees per 1,000 population, compared to more than 20 refugees per 1,000 in Jordan, Chad, Lebanon, Nauru, Turkey and South Sudan. Lebanon has 208 per 1,000. Countries accepting more refugees than Canada include Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Malta and Austria.

MYTH: Refugees – both claimants and Government Assisted Refugees – pose threats to Canada’s security.

FACT: Refugee claimants are seeking security and protection from threats to their own lives. On arrival in Canada, refugee claimants all go through a front-end security screening conducted by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). Since the screening was put in place in 2001, the number of claimants found to represent any kind of security concern has been statistically insignificant.

Government Assisted Refugees coming to Canada from overseas have undergone a multi-layered screening before arrival, including:

  • refugee identification before referral to the government,
  • immigration and security interview by experienced visa officers,
  • identity and document verification,
  • health screening, and,
  • identity confirmation prior to departure.

MYTH: Refugees jump the queue over more deserving immigrants.

FACT: Refugees are forced to flee, while immigrants choose to move. Canada recognizes this by having separate programs for refugees. Still, refugees and their families often wait longer for immigration processing than immigrants as shown in infographic below released by Canadian Council for Refugees in September 2016:

Processing times
Immigrants Economic immigrants 20 months
Family class (Spouse/children) 20 months
Refugees Privately sponsored 46 months
Dependants abroad 34 months


MYTH: Refugees are a drain on our economy.

FACT: Government Assisted Refugees receive assistance from the Canadian government for up to one year in an amount equivalent to provincial social assistance. They are expected to pay back the travel costs associated with their resettlement. Studies show that refugees contribute positively to the Canadian economy. Many refugees start small businesses that employ native Canadians and other refugees.

MYTH: Refugees do not succeed in Canada.

FACT: There are many refugee success stories in Canada, for example:

  • The Right Honourable Michaelle Jean – the 27th Governor General of Canada was a refugee from Haiti in 1968;
  • The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson – the 26th Governor General of Canada was a refugee from Hong Kong in 1942;
  • Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, Government of Canada was a refugee from Afghanistan in 1966; and,
  • Kim Thuy, author and winner of the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Literature was a refugee from Vietnam in 1979.

And here are a few recent examples of ordinary refugees who are achieving success in quieter ways:

  • Hasan Sheblak, who arrived in Canada in 2016 with his wife and children, has started a successful flooring and tiling business and now employs 6 trades workers on his team; and,
  • The chefs at Tayybeh: A Celebration of Syrian Cuisine — a fast-growing food service — are women who came to Canada with their families as refugees who are now showcasing authentic dishes from their hometowns in Syria while at the same time achieving financial independence.