First flight of Syrian refugees expected to arrive in Toronto tonight

OTTAWA -- They escaped a civil war that has left millions displaced and hundreds of thousands dead, their homes in some cases bombed to pieces, along with their livelihoods and future hopes.

See Full Article

They fled to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon -- living in refugee camps, shantytowns and private apartments, trying to figure out their next steps, watching as what they thought would just be a temporary move away from their home country began to look more permanent.

This week, hundreds of Syrians will be on the move again, this time to Canada with the first mass arrival of refugees as part of the Liberal government's commitment to Syrian refugee resettlement.

The first flight is set to arrive Thursday night in Toronto, to be followed by one Saturday in Montreal, together bringing an estimated 300 people with a chance to make a home in Canada thanks to private sponsors who've been working for months to prepare for them.

But those sponsors will still have to wait a little while longer to meet them.

Border agents, health officials and immigration officers will be on hand when the plane touches down to run the new arrivals through a battery of tests. They will spend the night in hotels before moving on to their new homes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is planning to be on hand, and he has invited opposition leaders to be there too.

"It will be a great day," Trudeau said Wednesday in the House of Commons.

Montreal and Toronto will be home to dozens of such flights in the coming weeks as the government seeks to bring 10,000 Syrians to Canada by year's end, and then a further 15,000 by the end of February.

While Syrian refugees have been arriving with some regularity since the Liberals were sworn into office on Nov. 4, they've arrived on commercial flights. Today sees the first government aircraft return from a deployment specific to a program that began as a Liberal campaign promise.

Even when in opposition, the Liberals had called for Canada to increase its commitment to Syrian resettlement; the prior Conservative government had initially pledged to take in 11,300 people by the end of 2018.

But during the campaign, the Liberals revealed a plan of their own, promising that the government would take in 25,000 people itself and work with private sponsors to bring in even more.

They later went further, saying they'd bring in that many people by the end of this year.

Work on that started the very day the Liberals won power, with companies like Air Canada reaching out immediately to see if their planes could be helpful as part of the program. Once the first two military flights arrive, private chartered flights will shuttle the vast majority of the remaining Syrians to Canada.

It wasn't until the Liberals struck a cabinet sub-committee specifically designed to roll out the program that plans began to coalesce -- and one of the first things they heard from their international partners was a plea to reconsider their original year-end deadline.

Together, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon are hosting close to 3 million of the 4.28 million UN-registered refugees who have fled Syria since the war began there in 2011.

The Liberals also broke their plan down into stages.

To meet the 25,000 goal, about 10,000 would be those who have private sponsors at the ready and in many cases, those files were already in the immigration system because of the previous Conservative commitments. Those would be the cases targeted for settlement by the end of the year; private cases are easier because the support structure is already in place.

Then, a further 15,000 spaces would be reserved for government-assisted refugees with the goal of bringing them in by the end of February 2016.

In recent months, thousands of Syrian refugees have been arriving in Canada but the Liberals are only counting those who've landed since they officially took office on Nov. 4 as part of their commitment.

As of Dec. 7, that number was 416. The government says they have 11,932 applications currently in the system.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Martha wins World's Ugliest Dog contest [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    PETALUMA, Calif. — The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest in California is celebrating the inner beauty and imperfections of man’s best friend on Friday. The pooches — many of which are adoptable or previously adopted — will face off in a red carpet walk and “Faux Paw Fashion Show,” organizers said. Source
  • Montreal police seek suspect scamming women on dating apps

    Canada News CTV News
    Montreal police are looking for a suspect whom they allege used mobile dating apps like Tinder to scam women out of money. Police say the man used the phone apps Tinder and Badoo to connect with about a dozen women. Source
  • 5 GOP senators oppose health care bill as written

    World News CTV News
    Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., announces he will vote no on the proposed GOP healthcare bill, at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, in Las Vegas, on Friday, June 23, 2017. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP) Source
  • Hundreds evacuated from London high-rises as Grenfell Tower fire fallout widens

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — The scope of Britain’s fire-safety crisis broadened Saturday as London officials scrambled to evacuate four public housing towers due to concerns about external cladding, fire doors and insulation around gas pipes. Hundreds of residents hastily packed their bags and sought emergency shelter, with many angry and confused about the chaotic situation. Source
  • California governor blocks parole of Charles Manson follower

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday night blocked parole for Charles Manson follower and convicted killer Bruce Davis. Brown's rejection issued late Friday night is the fifth time Davis has been recommended for parole by a state panel only to see it blocked by a governor, and continues Brown's unflinching pattern of refusing to allow anyone from Manson's "family" to be freed. Source
  • 5 London tower blocks evacuated over fire safety concerns

    World News CBC News
    Thousands of residents in a sprawling northwest London housing estate were forced to leave their apartments late Friday after fire checks carried out in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze found the buildings to be unsafe. Source
  • Colombian rebels release kidnapped Dutch journalists

    World News CTV News
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Two Dutch journalists who were kidnapped earlier this week by leftist rebels in Colombia have been released unharmed, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders said early Saturday. Koenders said in a statement that Derk Bolt and Eugenio Follender "are doing relatively well under the circumstances. Source
  • 2 Dutch journalists freed unharmed by Colombian rebels

    World News CTV News
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Two Dutch journalists have been freed unharmed after being held captive for almost a week by leftist rebels in Colombia, the Dutch foreign minister said Saturday. One of the journalists said they were treated well but conditions in the jungle are difficult in any case. Source
  • South Korean president calls for North Korean Olympic participation

    World News CBC News
    South Korea President Moon Jae-in said Saturday he hopes to see North Korean athletes at next year's Winter Olympics in South Korea to ease tensions over the North's nuclear program. Moon made the comments during the opening ceremony of the world taekwondo championships in the South Korean town of Muju, where a North Korean delegation led by International Olympic Committee member Chang Ung was also present. Source
  • Turkish authorities ban Istanbul Pride march

    World News CTV News
    ISTANBUL - Turkish authorities have announced they will not allow a march for gay, lesbian and trans rights to take place Sunday. The Istanbul governor's office said Saturday that the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) Pride would be banned for the safety of participants and tourists, and public order. Source