EDITORIAL: Refugees add value to our communities

Misconception that refugees are a drain on the system

A group of faculty members, staff, students and friends in the University of Victoria’s history department have been working together to bring to Greater Victoria a family of five refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict.

In recent weeks, other groups around the Capital Region have undertaken efforts to work toward  the same goal.

In the Gazette, we’ve seen some readers question the outpouring of support for families outside Canada, when so many people here at home also struggle to meet their daily needs, through no fault of their own.

We understand that concern, and credit the many people working every day to also alleviate that suffering. However, we also believe in the need to recognize our place in the larger world.

To help one is not to devalue another.

There’s also the misconception among some that refugees are a drain on the system.

In fact refugees, and immigrants generally, add much to the community, culturally, socially and financially.

A report issued this week by Vancity credit union found Syrian refugees expected to arrive in British Columbia between now and the end of February will generate at least $563 million in local economic activity over the next 20 years.

The report, “From Crisis to Community: Syrian Refugees and the B.C. Economy,” found that immigrants tend to strengthen economies within their new communities, since they often purchase goods and services within their local community networks.

Further, immigrants tend to be highly entrepreneurial – they’re about 30 per cent more likely to start a business than non-immigrants. In Halifax, for example, the Lebanese community is estimated to have created about 3.6 local jobs for each immigrant.

Addressing refugees specifically, the report found that refugees also report higher rates of self-employment than both other immigrants and people born in Canada. That doesn’t even begin to consider the cultural benefits of welcoming new families into the Canadian fold.

UVic history professor Elizabeth Vibert recently told our sister paper, the Oak Bay News, “People need to really be aware of how much new immigrants bring to this country.”

We couldn’t agree more, and hope that our communities embrace their new neighbours when they arrive.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Victoria man collects 28 bags of trash along two-kilometre stretch of highway

20-year-old spent 12 hours collecting garbage near Thetis Lake

It’s showtime: Victoria theatre reopens with new COVID-19 protocols

Capitol 6 theatre and SilverCity Victoria have reopened with limited seating

Rapid bus system could increase frequency, reliability in Greater Victoria

BC Transit studies methods for improving major routes in Capital Region

Victoria Police searching for missing teen

Arianna Mckenzie, 17, last seen July 2

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Two injured hikers airlifted from North Vancouver Island Park

Campbell River and Comox Search and Rescue hoist team rescued the injured from Cape Scott Provincial Park

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Most Read