Refugee program hits 10K mark
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.