This story is over 5 years old.

#WelcomeRefugees: Canada Is Going to Spend Hundreds of Millions to Resettle 25,000 Syrians

Canada has given itself a two month extension on its ambitious plan to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees into the country by the end of 2015. Instead, it's new target aims to resettle 10,000 this year.
Justin Ling
Montreal, CA
November 24, 2015, 9:15pm
Bullit Marquez/AP Photo

Canada has given itself a two month extension on its ambitious plan to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees into the country by the end of 2015.

"While our plan is ambitious, it reflects Canada's commitment to share responsibility and offer protection to those who need it," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

The refugee plan calls on individual Canadians to help resettle the incoming Syrian population, and even set up a hashtag for their arrival: #WelcomeRefugees


Under the full details of the plan, announced Tuesday, 10,000 Syrian refugees will be relocated to Canada by January 1. Within 60 days after that, another 15,000 will be in the country.

The whole plan will cost up to $678 million over six years, and will see the influx of Syrians heading to 36 communities across the country.

The government's plan involves 500 government staff, spread out through Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, tasked with identifying, contacting, screening, assessing, and transporting the refugees.

The Trudeau government's plan, which was largely kept secret until Tuesday's announcement, has been hotly criticized for its tight timeline. The opposition Conservatives went after the governing Liberals, suggesting that the rushed plan could compromise Canada's security.

"We want to bring them in fast, but we also want to do it right," said Immigration Minister John McCallum in explaining the delay.

Related: Germany Is Turning Away Syrian Refugees Once Again

A briefing on the plan held on Tuesday afternoon also walked through an aggressive security screening process, no doubt meant to dissuade such fears, which have led to a political dogfight south of the border, between the White House and the states.

In order to qualify to be resettled in Canada, the would-be refugee needs to be a Syrian citizen — or a former citizen — living in Turkey, Lebanon, or Jordan. From there, they will need to qualify for refugee status from, and be screened by, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees.


From there, the Canadian officials will contact prospective refugees via text message to invite them to apply. If they want to resettle to Canada, they will go through interviews with visa officers, be submitted to health and identity tests, and face a round of biometric checks before being put on a flight.

Upon landing in Canada, the refugees will go through one more round of security checks and health tests, before being dispatched to their new home.

The government has already begun looking for translators, fluent in both Arabic and Kurdish, to show up at offices abroad and airports here in Canada in order to facilitate the process.

One question that appears unresolved is exactly where the refugees will live. Officials appeared uncertain of exactly where the Syrians would reside, but said that temporary shelters were being set up and military barracks were being cleared, in the event that temporary housing was necessary.

Some soldiers in single quarters were moved from their residences in recent days to make room for the refugees.

Those Syrians coming into the country will be afforded full access to medicare, including full medical, pharmacare, dental, and vision coverage. The government will also help them purchase furniture, clothing, food, and other necessities for twelve months following their arrival, or until they can support themselves. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who has been critical of the plan, has asked for that federal government support to continue for two years.


Related: Refugees Sew Lips Shut Over New Balkan Border Policy

They will also be given access to resettlement programs, including language training and classes to help them adjust to their new life in Canada.

Initial reports had suggested that the government would not be allowing in any unattached single men in under the program, unless they are a sexual minority.

Government officials confirmed Tuesday that wouldn't be the case. While the government will "prioritize" families, women at risk, LGBTQ minorities, and those who are accompanying elderly parents, it will not be disqualifying any would-be refugee on the basis of gender.

Those priorities will not apply to refugees brought in through private sponsorship.

Fully 10,000 of the total will be privately-sponsored refugees, meaning they will be brought in by non-governmental organizations, families, or church groups.

Previously, the Liberals had said that the entirety of the 25,000 refugees would be brought in on the government dime — in the end, only 15,000 will be government-sponsored.

Follow Justin Ling on Twitter: @justin_ling