Can our economy and our government support incoming Syrian refugees?
By: Ana F.
Refugees from Syria have been fleeing their country since 2011 and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries like Turkey and Lebanon. Some have been going as far as Europe to find a safe place far away from their war-torn country. Many countries like Germany, Sweden, France and the UK plan to or are already accepting incoming refugees. Canada plans to accept about 10,000 refugees over a three-year period. But is our economy and our government prepared to support these refugees?
The refugees can put strain on a country’s healthcare and education system. For example, Jordan, one of the countries nearest to Syria that is accepting refugees, spent 8.2 billion dollars in 2012-2013 with 5.8 billion dollars in economic benefit. It cost them a total of 2.4 billion dollars and put a strain on an already limited water supply. Many schools in Lebanon and Jordan have moved to double-shifts to accommodate Syrian children and growing competition for housing and jobs means that rent prices are going up and wages are going down.
This issue isn’t isolated to only Lebanon and Jordan. Many in the EU want less immigration into their countries. According to a 2014 Global Attitudes survey, 86% of people in Greece want less immigration, followed by 80% in Italy. France and the United Kingdom are almost tied at 57% and 55% but many people in Europe believe that immigrants today are a burden on their countries because they take their jobs and social benefits.
Canada wants to help the situation and with the upcoming federal election, questions are bound to be asked about what our government plans to do. So far, Canada’s economy is not in the best place it could be right now, with falling oil prices and the value of the loonie crashing. The fall in oil prices is forcing billions of dollars in reductions to the oil and gas industry, shutting down Canada’s main source of domestic economic growth. In February of this year, Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) discontinued a project in Alberta that would have produced 200,000 barrels of oil per day, meaning that the oil industry could experience a 37% loss in revenues this year.
So can we really support the incoming refugees? Justin Trudeau, Liberal Party Leader, called for 25,000 refugees to be brought into Canada, which is a good, genuine action, but is it a logical idea? With Canada’s suffering economy, and, some people would argue, an overdependence on the oil and gas industry, it’s not a thought out idea. Nobody doubts that these actions are necessarily bad in any way, but are they going to help us?
What about the taxes that will need to be collected in order to pay for the healthcare and education needed for the incoming refugees? With higher interest rates in Canada because of the low Canadian dollar, more and more Canadians can go into bankruptcy. The average household debt in Alberta is about 124,384 dollars, which is higher than other provinces because of the impact the oil and gas industry has on this particular province. Can people afford a tax raise to support the refugees?
All of us want to help the current situation in Syria and want to help the refugees pouring into countries all around the world but are we prepared for the consequences it would bring us if we do lend a helping hand?