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Mario C. Estable on refugee crisis: Charity begins at home

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Published on Thu Oct 15 2015

Re: Academics urge ‘radical expansion’ of refugee aid, Oct. 13

Academics urge ‘radical expansion’ of refugee aid, Oct. 13

In the same issue of the Star where a very small minority of “academics” call for expansion of Canada’s dollar commitment to bring more people here from Syria, there is an article that states that “here” we have between 9 per cent and 29 per cent child poverty.

I live in Toronto. Every day I see homeless persons – men, women and sometimes children – begging for money. Again, begging for money. Thin emaciated, with rotting teeth, from poverty. Behind the Eaton Centre, in the shadow of a church, are the names of homeless persons in Toronto, who died on the street, many without identity on them, unknown persons. Many frozen to death.

At times it feels like I am in the Rohinton Mistry novel, “A Fine Balance.” Not to mention the deplorable conditions for Canadians on reserves.

A different approach to the refugee crisis would be for Canada to put pressure on countries around Syria to accept more refugees. For example, how many have been accepted by Saudi Arabia?

The balance of what would have been spent to bring and resettle hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada could then be used to eradicate poverty and homelessness in Canada. For our own citizens, no less.

I am an academic and I do not urge radical expansion of refugee aid before a radical expansion of aid to Canadian homeless persons and a radical expansion of aid to Canadian persons living in poverty.

Small groups of “academics” led to sign petitions, do not speak for the majority of “academics,” nor for the majority of Canadians. And they most certainly do not speak for me.

Mario C. Estable, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Ryerson University

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