TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 18, 2014) - 160 organizations across Canada have come together in an Open Letter to Federal Minister of Finance Joe Oliver to oppose the federal government's move to limit refugee claimant access to social assistance benefits.

Omnibus budget Bill C-43 includes provisions in sections 172 and 173 that would amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to allow provinces to impose minimum residency requirements for eligibility for social assistance benefits, but only for certain categories of people based on their immigration status. Refugee claimants and others without permanent status could therefore be denied access to this critically important source of income.

"Denying refugee claimants access to a source of income that they need to survive is not how we should welcome people who are fleeing persecution," said Marrone. "That 160 organizations from across Canada would come together demonstrates the depth of concern across the country about the impact that the federal government's move will have on refugee claimants when they arrive in Canada."

Allowing provinces to impose minimum residency requirements erodes the last remaining national standard in the Canada Social Transfer, which is the primary source of federal funding to support provincial and territorial social programs that are vital to maintaining a good quality of life in Canada. National standards are a means of ensuring consistency, equity and accountability across Canada in the delivery of social programs.

"Through these amendments, the federal government is promoting the imposition of residency requirements on refugee claimants," said Mary Marrone, Director of Advocacy & Legal Services. "The amendments are an abdication of federal responsibility to refugee claimants and to the last remaining national standard in social program provision."

The Open Letter and list of signatories are available at:

More information about the impact of the provisions of Bill C-43 is available at:

An online petition opposing these provisions signed by more than 1400 people is at:

Contact Information:

Income Security Advocacy Centre
Jennefer Laidley
Research and Policy Analyst
416-597-5820 x 5155