1 04, 2016

Immigration Minister Announces Increased Intake of Privately-Sponsored Syrian Refugees

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, has announced that an additional 10,000 applications from private sponsorship groups wishing to help resettle Syrian refugees are scheduled to be processed this year.

The move follows continued public concern from sponsors and other stakeholders who were caught off-guard when efforts to resettle Syrians were scaled back, even as the Liberals were working on the goal of bringing in 25,000 people by the end of February, 2016, a target that was ultimately achieved. Soon after that milestone was reached, however, the government closed some processing centres abroad and scaled back staff in Canada processing Syrian applications.

“We are doing everything we can to accommodate the very welcomed desire on the part of Canadians to sponsor refugees,” McCallum stated from Berlin, the German capital, where he is currently meeting immigration officials.

The government announced earlier this month it would seek to admit approximately 45,000 refugees by the end of 2016 — a mix of government assisted and privately sponsored refugees from different countries. McCallum said today’s announcement is in addition to the 17,800 privately sponsored refugees the government intends to resettle by the end of 2016. The remainder of settled refugees will arrive with government assistance or through a blend of the two programs.

The Sponsorship Agreement Holders Council,a national membership association for Sponsorship Agreement Holders in Canada, had asked that Syrian applications submitted from January 1 to March 1 not be counted in the cap, and the government responded by extending that up to March 31.

“We’re going all out to meet the demand . . . The Sponsorship Agreement Holders Council has expressed satisfaction with this… now I understand that not everyone is necessarily happy, but I think we’ve gone out of our way to create maximum room for privately sponsored refugees,” said McCallum.

While McCallum is making more room for privately sponsored refugees, he said the the processing of their applications won’t be finalized before the end of 2016 or early in 2017.

4 03, 2016

Canada Officially Reaches Target of Resettling 25,000 Syrian Refugees

The 25,000th Syrian refugee to land in Canada since the current government took office in November touched down in Montreal on February 27, 2016 — two days ahead of schedule. This important milestone represents a key success for the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly known as CIC), and its Minister, John McCallum.

McCallum spoke to media this week from Toronto Pearson International Airport, where almost half of all Syrian refugees have landed on their way to their new homes in cities and towns across the country.

“This is a terrific day for us. But that does not mean the job is complete,” said McCallum, who added that “Many countries … are making it more difficult for refugees to come in. We’re among the few countries saying, ‘No, come on in.’”

McCallum urged Canadians to welcome the new refugees with “open arms” and help them find homes, jobs and adjust to their new lives in Canada. By and large, the Canadian public has received the refugees positively.

More than half of the 25,000 who have already arrived are government sponsored, while the rest are supported by private sponsorship groups or a mix of the two programs.

Over the course of last year’s general election campaign and in the early days of its term in office, the now-governing Liberal party said that Canada would welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015 under the government-assisted refugee program, which sees the government take on the full cost of a person’s resettlement for a full year. In addition, the Liberal campaign platform said they would work with private sponsors to do even more.

But soon after taking office and noting the logistics of health and security screening, among other factors, a new target was set to resettle 25,000 people in total by the end of February, 2016.

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