Airfare bills said to burden some Syrian refugees

While most Syrians don't pay airfare and medical fees, others who came before Nov. 4 are getting bills

A refugee settlement agency says billing some Syrians for medical and flight to Canada is unfair.

Since winning the election, the Liberal government started to fulfil its campaign promise to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada. Recently some Syrian refugees received notices from Collection Services stating that they owe money for their transportation. A volunteer from Lifeline Syria said this weighs down on the refugees.

“It would be best not to saddle them with the debt at all,” said Peter Goodspeed.

However, some refugees are spared from these debts if they arrived after Nov. 4 which is when the Liberals came to power. Those refugees who came to Canada looking to start fresh now have these debts to pay off.

“Charges can … put them [Syrian families] squarely behind the eight ball as they are working to re-establish themselves,” Goodspeed said.

With more refugees coming forward about the large sum of money they have to pay for medicals and flights to Canada, many critics have called on the government to address the issue.

“Refugee settlement agencies have been lobbying the government for years to do away with the charge,” Goodspeed said.

Immigration Minister John McCallum said it’s something the government is looking to change.

“We are reconsidering our policy on refugees in general,” he said.” We will consider whether we should make a special case for pre-Nov. 4 refugees.”