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Study: Social assistance receipt among refugee claimants in Canada: Evidence from linked administrative data files, 1999 to 2011

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Released: 2015-10-15

Among refugee claimants who initiated their claim in Canada during the 2000s, about 80% received social assistance in the first year following their claim. In the second year, 50% to 60% of those whose refugee claim was still active received social assistance.

Of the approximately $10 billion to $13 billion in annual social assistance expenditures in Canada over the study period, about 2% to 4% was paid to refugee claimants depending on the year and method of calculation.

These findings come from a new study using linked data from refugee claimant files and tax records that examines social assistance receipt among refugee claimants who initiated their claim in Canada during the 2000s.

Social assistance rates among refugee claimants vary across socio-economic characteristics such as province of residence and country of citizenship.

Among refugee claimants who initiated their claim in 2010, social assistance receipt the following year ranged from 84% in Ontario and 79% in Quebec, to 57% in British Columbia and 48% in Alberta. The vast majority of refugee claimants lived in one of these four provinces.

Social assistance rates also varied by country of citizenship. Over the reference period, they were generally highest among refugee claimants from Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea and Somalia, and lowest among refugee claimants from Bangladesh, Haiti, India and Jamaica.

  Note to readers

Refugee claimants refer to individuals who have made asylum claims in Canada who are pending a determination at the Immigration and Refugee Board. Refugees resettled from overseas, refugees landed in Canada and their dependants abroad were not part of this study.

Products

The research study "Social Assistance Receipt Among Refugee Claimants in Canada: Evidence from Linked Administrative Data Files," which is part of the Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series (Catalogue number11F0019M), is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

A shorter article summarizing the findings of this paper is available in "Social Assistance Receipt Among Refugee Claimants in Canada," part of Economic Insights (Catalogue number11-626-X), which complements this research study and is also available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

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