Seeking Asylum is a six-part Global News series focusing on asylum seekers’ journeys from entering the country to the challenges of starting a life in a new country.
WINNIPEG — After asylum seekers make the trek over from the U.S. into Canada, there’s a whole new journey they still need to embark on.
Crossing over on foot to a completely unknown world is only step one for asylum seekers as they begin their journey into Canada.
Rita Chahal, Executive Director of Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, said once asylum seekers are processed at the border by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the next stop is Welcome Place in Winnipeg.
“When we get them from CBSA, the first 24 hours is really getting them settled and making sure they have a place to stay,” Chahal said.
But helping, housing and feeding asylum seekers comes at a cost.
In February, Welcome Place received an extra $110, 000 from the province to help with the influx of refugee claimants.
Welcome Place staff have started a new fundraising initiative called #OpenYourHearts in hopes of raising another $300,000 to help with the continuous stream of asylum seekers coming through their doors.
Once an asylum seeker heads to Welcome Place, they’re given assistance with the documents to prove their identity and layout the basis of their refugee claim.
WATCH: Rita Chahal from Welcome Place explains the process of trying to prove your identity
Free temporary shelter is one of the many things asylum seekers are provided with then they cross over into Manitoba.
Of the 360 people who have crossed into Manitoba since January, the province has received roughly 90 applications for employment and income assistance from refugee claimants.
If a claimant meets the requirements set out by the provincial government, they can become eligible to receive $753 a month if they’re single and $1,354 a month for a family of four.
Throughout this entire process, asylum seekers are provided with free legal aid.
Immigration Lawyer David Davis said it’s free for the asylum seeker until they have a means of income to pay it. Then they can go into a payment plan if they wish to continue receiving aid.
“There’s a lot of work that goes in to it and not all of it is paid,” Davis said.
The province explained that once the documents are handled, the next step is to looking at work, earning money and making sure asylum seekers have medical coverage.
“Most individuals found to be eligible to make a refugee claim can apply for a work permit once they have undergone a medical examination. Refugee claimants are also eligible for interim federal health,” the province said in a statement.
The province added that once an individual has been determined eligible to make a claim in Canada, as a refugee claimant they also have access to education.
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