This topic has been so much in the news over the past year. There are polarized opinions; I have certainly given the matter some thought. No matter what one says or writes, someone will be offended. I read an on-line article recently in MacLeans magazine containing individual stories of a few dozen refugees from African nations entering Canada through frozen farmers' fields on the Manitoba border. Individual stories touch the heart.
What's the solution? We are all familiar with the lifeboat analogy: too many rescued and the lifeboat sinks. One additional person can easily be accommodated in the lifeboat but there are definite limits. Then there's the safety factor. We don't want to let someone in the lifeboat who will turn around and toss the other occupants into the freezing water and row off.
Canada is an enormous country, geographically, but has a small population. Ninety percent of the population lives within 100 miles of the United States border. Eighty percent live in urban areas. (These numbers are approximations). If you look on a population map of Canada there are great swathes of virtually uninhabited land. These are not places where people choose to live. Would refugees? The largest cities, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are crowded with traffic problems and high rent and housing prices. Refugees and immigrants are more likely to find services/jobs there as well as people from their home countries who speak their language.
Social services from healthcare, education and welfare are provided by the state but there are queues and what is provided may not be of the same quality as could be purchased privately elsewhere. Canadian residents usually wait several years for orthopaedic surgery. They are in pain, they can't walk but they are not going to die from lack of a hip replacement, so they wait. Students needing educational assessments to diagnose learning problems and receive more assistance may wait over a year. Welfare and old age pension rates could be described as spartan. Everywhere there are funding limits.
Canada has developed a program of private sponsorship. Church and community groups commit to supporting a refugee family for a year and must put up a substantial amount. I believe it is around $30,000. Immigrants/refugees should contribute to the country. It is best for able-bodied people to have something useful to do. Lots of things, of various skill levels, need doing. Make that work available to everyone so that unemployed Canadians can participate as well. Work is done in exchange for benefits, not cash. Those already living here, who have worked to build a life and contribute feel more comfortable and accepting of newcomers who do the same.
The first generation struggles. My mother cleaned other people's homes for years. There are difficulties with language and day-to-day living. Families have to work hard and stick together. The next generation has it much easier.