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Refugee Transportation Loan Program

Refugee Transportation Loan

Canada is one of the few countries to charge refugees the cost of getting to the country and the only country to charge interest. Bringing refugees to Canada is a humanitarian gesture. Reaching out and helping them begin their new lives should include paying for their transportation.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees refers refugees who are in urgent need for protection to Canada. Canada sponsors these Government Assisted Refugees (GARs). Most of the refugees that are selected to come to Canada are coming from refugee camps in war-torn areas.

The GAR Transportation Loan covers the cost of pre-entry medical exams, transportation documents, and transportation costs. The burden of paying back these loans makes it extremely difficult for refugees to enjoy their improved lives and reach their full potential. The loan payment often takes priority above food, clothing, rent, or furniture. Many youth in refugee families miss educational opportunities because they must work make loan payments. Many refugees fear deportation if they are unable to pay back their loan.

Local Refugee Stories

Hear the stories of local refugees and learn about their experience with repaying the loan:

The City's Advocacy

In 2015, the City of Surrey put forward a Resolution to the Union of BC Municipalities’ Annual Convention. It called for the termination of the transportation loan program for refugees. It was endorsed by all BC municipalities. A Resolution was sent to the FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) and was discussed at a FCM’s National Board of Directors meeting.

A letter was also sent to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Jason Kenney, asking the federal government to cancel outstanding loans and terminate the transportation loan program for refugees.