Letter to Citizenshop and Immigration Minister Concerning teh Recinding of the Right of Landing Fee

Monday, June 28 1999

The Honourable Lucienne Robillard
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1A 1L1

Dear Madam Minister:

In a letter dated May 16, 1995, the then Chairman of the Social Affairs Commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote to your predecessor, the Hon. Sergio Marchi, concerning the imposition of the Right of Landing Fee. In the letter, our Commission specifically noted that “The Right of Landing Fee (ROLF) does not reflect the vision of a welcoming land of opportunity and hope that we would all like Canada to become. We therefore encourage you to reconsider the imposition of this measure, and rescind the tax on refugees and immigrants.

In our preparations for the upcoming Jubilee of the Year 2000, we often recall the need to forgive the debts of the most vulnerable nations, end the bondage of slavery and oppression, and renew our commitment to stewardship of God’s creation. The Bible not only describes the nature of Jubilee practice, but does so by urging us to love as ourselves “the stranger who sojourns with you in your land” (see Leviticus 19.33-34).

We are accordingly convinced that a most appropriate way to celebrate the Jubilee would be to welcome the stranger among us without employing a policy such as the ROLF. It seems to us to discriminate against newcomers, especially those arriving from poorer countries. On this issue that we are bringing to your attention, Madam Minister, we share the opinion of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Canadian Human Rights Commissioner, the Inter-Church Committee for Refugees, the Canadian Council for Refugees and spokespersons from all political parties that the ROLF should be immediately rescinded for refugees. In summary, charging the $975.00 Right of Landing Fee on top of the $500.00 processing fee ($100.00 per child) certainly appears inhospitable, especially to those coming from the poorest countries.

In the spirit of the Great Jubilee for the Year 2000, and in support of a current postcard campaign by refugee rights organizations, we again implore your government to rescind the Right of Landing Fee for newcomers to Canada.

Sincerely yours,

+ Most Reverend François Thibodeau, CJM
Bishop of Edmundston
Chairman, Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs