Victoria to start receiving government-assisted refugees

February 5, 2016

By Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun |

The City of Victoria will become the first region in B.C. outside Metro Vancouver to receive government-assisted refugees, the federal immigration department announced Friday.

Government-assisted refugees are those that are supported entirely by the federal government for their first year in Canada. Ottawa places them in one of 24 communities outside Quebec (which controls its own immigration) that have the necessary supports in place. Until Friday, the only designated community in B.C. was Metro Vancouver, and the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. and SUCCESS Canada, both Vancouver based, were the only organizations funded by Ottawa specifically to resettle refugees.

Now, “it is expected that the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria will begin to support (government-assisted refugees) in the coming weeks,” Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in a news release Friday.

Victoria’s new designation will take some of the pressure off Vancouver-based groups, led by the Immigrant Services Society, to find scarce housing for new Syrian refugee families, which average six people.

The number of designated refugee resettlement communities is likely to grow further, Immigration Minister John McCallum said Friday.

The Immigrant Services Society of B.C. is in discussions with Ottawa to designate as many as seven other refugee resettlement communities in B.C., settlement services director Chris Friesen told The Sun earlier this week.

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