Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her question.
First, I would like to assure the member that the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that newcomers, including refugees, integrate and contribute fully to the Canadian economy and to their communities.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s settlement program works to ensure that eligible newcomers receive the information they need about life in Canada and the community in which they intend to settle, including language training, help finding a job, and connections with established immigrants and Canadians.
While asylum claimants are not eligible for federal settlement services until they receive a positive refugee determination, they are eligible for some settlement services funded by the provinces.
Once an asylum claim is deemed eligible and referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board, the federal government covers the cost of eligible health care services under the interim federal health program.
Once an individual has made a refugee claim, he or she can also request social assistance, which falls under the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provides funding to over 80 organizations and agencies in British Columbia to support the delivery of services so that newcomers, including refugees, can successfully integrate into Canadian society.
As I said earlier, the asylum claimants that the Inland Refugee Society of British Columbia works with are not yet eligible for federally funded settlement programming, as they have not yet received a positive refugee determination by the Immigration and Refugee Board. As a result, this organization does not qualify to receive federal funding under the settlement program.
It is important to clarify that, once an individual has been determined to be eligible to make a claim in Canada, they may have access to social assistance, education, health services, emergency housing, and legal aid while a decision is pending on their claim.
Except for health services, which are funded by the Government of Canada, provision of all these supports is the responsibility of provinces and territories. Municipalities and non-profit organizations also provide some support services. I should also note that individuals who are found to be eligible to make a refugee claim can apply for a work permit once they have undergone a medical examination.
It makes no difference whether the asylum claim was made at the border or at an inland office. The Government of Canada also provides funding through the Canada social transfer, the CST, which is a federal block transfer to provinces and territories in support of post-secondary education, programs for children, social assistance, and other social services. The CST is provided on an equal per capita basis to the provinces in accordance with Statistics Canada's annual population estimates. Those estimates include persons claiming refugee status and family members living with them. In 2017-18, the CST will provide $13.7 billion to the provinces and territories.
It is also important to note that the number of asylum seekers varies over time and can depend on a number of different factors.
We are carrying on in the noble tradition of providing protection to those who are seeking refuge and we are committed to doing so responsibly and effectively.
We are ensuring that our agencies are able to manage the growing volumes and we are also working to dispel the myths and set the record straight on Canada's asylum system.
Once again, I want to thank the hon. member for Vancouver East for the question.