The Socio-Economic Value of Refugee Support
From the days of the Underground Railroad and the American Revolution, Canada has a long history of welcoming people in need of refuge. In 2015, the Government of Canada continued this tradition by announcing its intention to sponsor 25,000 refugees in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Ten thousand of these sponsorships were assumed by private sponsors.
Church connected sponsorship groups comprise about 72 per cent of the private refugee sponsorships in Canada. The bulk of the remaining sponsorships are held by faith communities from other traditions as well as ethnic and cultural community-based organizations.
Recognizing, though, that refugees in Canada are selected solely on the basis of humanitarian compassion and need, very few economists have explored the socio-economic value of these sponsorships; either to the individuals and families involved or more broadly to the Canadian society into which they have been welcomed.
Many organizations estimate the economic impact of refugee sponsorship based on the basic cost of living for a family of three - about $60,000 annually. But as most sponsorship groups know, this value fails to take into account the many volunteer hours offered to accompany sponsored individuals to government offices, medical appointments and school interviews, let alone the in-kind contributions of furniture, food and clothing.
To gain a better understanding of this impact, Sphaera Research worked with three experienced sponsorship groups: Islington United Church in Toronto, St. Peter's Erindale Anglican Church in Mississauga and Eastminster United Church in Toronto to explore the Halo value of these additional supports.