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.