October 25, 2014 – Reported by CTV News – OTTAWA — Buried in the Harper government’s latest massive, omnibus budget bill is legislation that could restrict the ability of refugee claimants to access social assistance.
The move follows the government’s decision to limit refugee claimants’ access to universal, public health care.
That measure was struck down by Federal Court Judge Anne Mactavish, who said it constitutes “cruel and unusual” treatment, puts lives at risk and “outrages Canadian standards of decency.”
Copyright Act changes left out of Conservatives’ omnibus budget bill
The government is currently appealing that ruling.
On social assistance, the government has essentially adopted as its own a private member’s bill introduced last month by Conservative backbencher Corneliu Chisu.
It is proposing to amend the legislation governing federal transfer payments to provinces for social programs. That legislation currently forbids provinces from imposing a minimum residency requirement before a refugee claimant can become eligible for social assistance.
The budget implementation bill would lift the prohibition on minimum residency, which was intended to ensure a national standard for supporting refugee claimants in need.
The 458-page bill includes a host of measures unrelated to the budget, including broadening the scope of the national DNA bank, tightening rules for the temporary foreign workers program and creation of the long-promised Arctic research station.
It was tabled Thursday — while the attention of virtually the entire nation was focused on the wild shootout that had occurred a day earlier in Parliament’s Centre Block…