Refugees in Alberta can now apply for a one-year driver’s licence while they wait for their claim to be processed.
The province changed its policies in 2012 which resulted in refugees being barred from applying while waiting for the hearing. According to a government news release, Alberta was the only province to refuse a driver’s licence to refugees.
The province says the latest change will make it easier for refugee claimants to support their families and begin building a new life here.
Anila Lee Yuen, with the Calgary Centre for Newcomers, says having a driver’s licence will help refugees better adapt to life in Canada.
“Often refugee claimants are issued work permits so they can take care of themselves, because they’re not going to get any kind of government assistance,” she said. “But previously, in Alberta only, they weren’t issued driver’s licences.”
Applicants will undergo the same testing process as other Albertans and, like all new drivers, must go through the Graduated Driver Licensing program which adds certain probationary conditions.
Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services, says the goal is to make settling easier.
“Individuals who seek asylum in Canada only do so because they are in very vulnerable situations,” he said in a release.
“Easing their transition through accessibility to driver’s licence eligibility is an important aspect of successful integration.”
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