Refugee pro­gram hits 10K mark

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Thou­sands of Syr­ian refugees ex­pected in Canada in the com­ing days could spend up to two weeks in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tions — in­clud­ing mil­i­tary bases — be­fore be­ing able to set­tle into more per­ma­nent homes.

Those con­di­tions will still be bet­ter than what peo­ple have left be­hind in Jor­dan, Le­banon or Turkey, where nearly all of the Syr­ian refugees com­ing to Canada are cur­rently liv­ing, said Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter John McCal­lum.

“I don’t think the need to spend one or two weeks in in­terim ac­com­mo­da­tion will be a dev­as­tat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for them, given what they have come from,” McCal­lum told a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day. “That be­ing said, we’ll at­tempt to make that in­terim process as quick as pos­si­ble.”

To date, just over 10,000 Syr­ian refugees are call­ing Canada home — a mile­stone for the Lib­er­als’ re­set­tle­ment pro­gram that was reached late Tues­day, about two weeks later than orig­i­nally promised.

A com­mit­ment that the first 10,000 refugees set­tled would be mostly those with pri­vate spon­sors didn’t ma­te­ri­al­ize. The ma­jor­ity of new ar­rivals are in­stead those whose costs are be­ing cov­ered by the fed­eral govern­ment alone, or in part­ner­ship with pri­vate groups.

When the cur­rent re­set­tle­ment pro­gram was rolled out in Novem­ber, the govern­ment said in­com­ing refugees would spend a cou­ple of nights in ho­tels near the air­port be­fore tran­sit­ing on to their fi­nal des­ti­na­tions. For those with pri­vate spon­sors, there would likely be homes ready but what would hap­pen with govern­ment-as­sisted refugees — those whose costs are cov­ered en­tirely by govern­ment — was al­ways a ques­tion mark.

Or­di­nar­ily, those refugees are wel­comed by set­tle­ment agen­cies that run tem­po­rary hous­ing fa­cil­i­ties, and they stay there for a few weeks be­fore a per­ma­nent home is found.

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