Syrian refugees finding permanent homes

Minister John McCallum

OTTAWA – Immigration Minister John McCallum says 98 per cent of government-sponsored Syrian refugees have now found permanent housing.

The minister is telling a Commons committee that the remaining two per cent should be housed by mid-June.

He says the government plans to bring in 25,000 government-sponsored refugees from Syria this year and is well on its way to that goal.

That’s on top of the 25,000 brought in by the end of February in a mix of sponsorships.

McCallum says 17,300 of this year’s 25,000 government-sponsored refugees have already arrived and the remainder will be here by the end of December.

He says challenges remain in the fields of language training and jobs, but resettlement efforts are proceeding.

McCallum says there is still a demand among Canadians to help Syrian refugees.

“I’m probably the only immigration minister in the world whose major challenge is not being able to deliver enough refugees quickly enough to satisfy the amazing generosity of Canadian households, Canadian families who want to sponsor them,” he said.

“This is good problem to have in a sense that it underlines the welcoming nature of our people, but it’s still a problem.”

He said additional officials have been deployed into the region to help process more newcomers.

The focus on people fleeing Syria has not left other refugees short-changed, he added.

“We have not lost sight, despite the recent attention paid to Syrian newcomers, of other refugees who also need our protection.”

It made sense, he said, to put extra effort into the Syrian situation.

“This was the worst refugee crisis the world has seen in decades.”

McCallum also said that the Syrian refugee program will likely come in under budget, although final tallies are still being made.