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January 19, 2000
Ministers back campaign against Canadian tax on new immigrants
A P Kamath
Herb Dhaliwal, Canada's cabinet minister for fisheries, and Maria Minna, the international co-operation minister, are backing a campaign by a coalition of immigrant and refugee advocates against a tax on new immigrants.
Activists demand that Immigration and Citizenship Minister Elinor Caplan, who announced last week that she will follow an aggressive policy to woo more immigrants to Canada, initiate action to abolish the $ 975 landing fee.
Critics call it head tax.
The Canadian budget will be presented in February, and a new campaign to demand the abolition of the tax was launched early this month by several organizations including the Getting Landed Project based in Toronto.
The tax was introduced in 1995 during a budgetary crisis. Opponents of the tax say even in a budgetary crisis, the landing fee hurts new immigrants who need to save considerable amounts of money before they find a decent house to rent. Secondly, the opponents say there is no budgetary crisis today.
"Newcomers can't get on with their lives. Even if they get a loan, it's a burden on them,'' Ahmed Hashi, co-ordinator of the Getting Landed Project, told reporters last week. "When this was introduced, there was a budget deficit. Now there is a surplus."
Remove the tax, so that newcomers "can integrate and get on with their lives," he said.
Lucienne Robillard, the former immigration minister, told The Star last year, she thought it was time to revise the $ 975 landing fee because the government had conquered the deficit.
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