Immigrant groups ask for more time to settle Syrian refugees

October 28, 2015

By Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun |

A national association of immigrant and refugee service providers is asking prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau to extend the timeline on his pledge to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada to the end of 2016, rather than the end of this year.

Two months is not enough time to adequately support and settle this number of refugees, which would be over and above the thousands of refugees Canada has already committed to taking in, the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance said in a news release Tuesday.

Canada took in more than 7,500 government-assisted refugees in 2014. About 40 per cent of those arrive between September and December, for reasons that range from overseas processing times, flight availability and foreign visa offices rushing to meet annual targets, said CISSA chairman Chris Friesen.

For B.C., Trudeau’s stated target would mean about 2,000 more refugees in the next two months, in addition to the 800-900 the province already receives, Friesen said.

Extending the timeline would still honour the UN refugee agency’s appeal asking countries including Canada to resettle 100,000 Syrians by the end of next year, he added.

The settlement workers also asked the incoming Liberal government to prioritize the reunification of refugees who are already in Canada with their families overseas, eliminate the issuance of interest-bearing transportation loans that refugees must repay within a year of arriving in Canada, and introduce a housing allowance to top up existing resettlement support assistance.

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