A Different Kind of Help

images_immigrantThe recent news of the Canadian government fast tracking immigrant applications of Pinoys who were affected by typhoon Ondoy wasn’t exactly received with accordant approval by the locals and various immigrant communities in this country.  Many doubt the sincerity of the humanitarian act, for more severe  natural calamities and conflicts of a global scale displaced  so many people in the past but Canada did not step up to the plate to make a similar announcement.  Some call the humanitarian gesture as contrived and nothing more than the Conservative Party’s posturing for  political points for the 2010 elections.   The news story comments at the bottom of the article gives a barometer of what people think about the announcement. For me, the comments in reaction to the news gives me a sense of perspective as how the Pinoy is viewed in this country.  As expected, plaudits and pundits alike aired their share of conciliatory and dissenting views on the issue.  Some are straight up to the point in their comment – why give such preferential treament to Pinoys ? Some were equally scathing with sarcasm with their remark ” I’d prefer 10,000 Pinoys to 1 terrorist. Let them come ” .   The ultimate kicker would be this question  “If the Filipinos are such hard workers and resourceful why is their country such a mess?”

What people don’t understand is with this announcement, Canada isn’t accepting refugees or displaced people in dire need of life support. These are legit and qualified applicants in the family reunion and independent immigrant classes who pay up to get here. In most cases, they are vouched for by their immediate relatives who sign an affidavit of support, a legal document that guarantees financial support for 10 years. This means that for 10 years, these new arrivals cannot apply for government welfare subsidy if for some reason the aren’t able to support themselves. An of course, all of them should be spring chicken healthy because health care is free in this country and the government is not eager too put too much stress on the health care system. It’s still the game of admitting an asset versus a liability. Moreover, the fast tracking is only for those applicants who can prove that typhoon Ondoy had damaged their homes and affected their lives.

How many applications does the government plan to fast track? 10,000? 5000? They haven’t given any figure. Say 5,000 for the sake of argument, about 2% of the annual immigrant quota of 250,000. How much will these people get charged to be processed ? Let’s assume that 40% are adults and 60% children below 22 years. Children are the more important demographic variable because they are expected to reproduce and contribute more to the population growth rate of the country. We also know that these people will be valuable taxpayers of the future, who would be paying a third of their earnings to the government for the right to live here.

Adults = 2,000
Children = 3,000

Adult application processing fee = $550
Adult landing fee upon granting of immigrant visa = $490
Children application processing fee = $150
Children landing fee = $0

Total adult application fees = 2,000 x $550 = $1,100,000
Total adult landing fees = 2,000 x $490 = $ 980,000
Total children app fees = 3,000 x $150 = $ 450,000

Total fees = $ 2,530,000

To those people who think that the Canadian government is doing one heck of a favor to the victims of Ondoy better think twice. Collectively, these folks would fork the equivalent of about 101,000 million pesos in fees to get here. And if we were to talk about greatest good for the greatest number, that kind of money could have done much more if spent on rehabilitating the flood damaged areas. Canada donated $5M to the flood relief fund and looks like they might recoup half of it with the fast tracking announcement. All of a sudden the political posturing conspiracy theory might not be such a bad speculation after all because the announcement in my view lacks the merits of a true humanitarian proposition.
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