Sunday 6 September 2015

Supporting refugees ourselves

There's been a lot of calls recently for New Zealand to increase its refugee quota in response to the crisis in Syria.

I'm all for that, but I can understand the government getting antsy about the additional cost.  But what if we took on that cost ourselves?

In Canada, people can sponsor extra refugees in addition to the quota.  Refugees coming in this way don't have access to state benefits or housing for the first year: the sponsor(s) have to house them and pay their living expenses for that time.  Presumably the assumption is, after they've been around for a year, chances are they'll be in a fit state to provide for themselves and so will never have needed state assistance.

Someone has started a petition calling for a similar thing to be instituted here.  You can sign it here.

I think it's a really good idea.  I'm pretty sure my church, which has around 80 adult members, could pay the rent on a three-bedroom unit for a year, and could probably stump up $350 per week for living costs (which is what the government gives cash-in-hand for 'job-seeker support' for a family of 4) as well.  We could support an extra family of four, in addition to the 750 people the government supports.

I don't know what happens in Canada for health care or education for such people - if we had to pay international student fees for the kids and the full cost of any health care then I'm not sure we could manage it.  But if those were covered I think we could, and I think lots of other groups of people could, too!

If the idea appeals to you, too, then add your name to those calling for this to be possible.

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