Vancouver, Ottawa ask feds for break from taking in Syrian refugees

OTTAWA -- Two cities, Vancouver and Ottawa, are taking a break from accepting any more government-assisted Syrian refugees as agencies in both cities try to work through housing bottlenecks.

See Full Article

A surge of arrivals in the last month filled temporary housing to capacity and the settlement groups responsible say they need time to move people into permanent homes before they can accept any new cases.

The director of settlement for the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. says the pause in Vancouver will last five days, beginning Tuesday. Even though the group added 700 beds to its housing stock, it is still taking time to find permanent homes, Chris Friesen said.

"Nobody is stuck in an airport for a week or something like that," he said. "Overseas, what it means is either they will put them on later flights or they may (send) them to new centres that have current capacity just to keep the flow going," he said.

Friesen said it also took more time than expected for the federal Immigration Department to process the cheques newcomers use to pay for their first homes and other needs.

In Ottawa, officials had been gearing up for large numbers of privately sponsored refugees but what came first was the influx of government-assisted ones, filling the available beds. A delay in accepting new government-assisted refugees could last as long as a week.

"The timing just needs to be spread out a bit, it's just been this huge influx over a two-week period," said Leslie Emory, the executive director of the Ottawa Immigrant Community Services Organization.

The pause only applies to government-assisted refugees, those whose costs are covered entirely by the federal government.

Upon arrival in Canada, they are sent to one of 36 cities that have resettlement agreements with the government. Of the 25,000 Syrians the Liberals plan to bring in by the end of February, about 15,000 are to be part of that category and 5,932 have arrived so far.

An early element of the resettlement plan called for refugees to be housed temporarily at military bases in Ontario and Quebec until permanent homes could be found, but that is now considered an option of last resort. No bases have taken refugees so far.

A spokesperson for the Immigration Department said the size of the refugee resettlement operations brings challenges and the department is working with communities buckling under the strain. The spokesperson did not immediately say whether other communities had requested a pause.

Privately sponsored refugees will continue to arrive in both Vancouver and Ottawa.

Immigration Minister John McCallum said Monday the resettlement challenge is on the government's mind. One thing he said is under consideration is finding a way to get Syrians into more French-speaking communities.

McCallum says more than 90 per cent of refugees that have arrived don't speak either of the official languages, creating what he calls a blank slate for refugees and provinces to teach them either English or French.

But language-training courses are in high demand across the country. Friesen said. While some cities have no wait lists, others see new immigrants wait for over a year.

-- With files from Jordan Press in Saint Andrews, N.B.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • After decades, Van Gogh painting in U.S. museum finally authenticated as real deal

    World News CBC News
    The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford announced Friday that the oil painting Vase with Poppies has been verified by researchers at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam as having been painted by the Dutch artist in 1886, just after he moved to Paris. Source
  • Democratic demands set up battle over Mueller report

    World News CTV News
    In this image made from video, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, addresses the media in New York, Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP Photo/David R. Martin) Source
  • Beyond Mueller report, Trump faces flurry of legal perils

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- U.S. President Donald Trump portrayed Robert Mueller as the bane of his existence, but even with the special counsel's Russia investigation wrapped up, he may still have to contend with state and federal investigators in New York. Source
  • Time for Canada to drop the 'white gloves' in diplomatic feud with China, says ex-diplomat

    Canada News CBC News
    As Beijing continues to ramp up diplomatic pressure on Canada through its decision to stop importing Canadian canola seed, one former ambassador to China says it's time for Canada to "remove our white gloves" and retaliate against the Asian superpower. Source
  • A look at Russians who became mixed up in Mueller probe

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- An investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into an elaborate Russian operation that sought to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and try to help Donald Trump win the White House has cast a spotlight on more than a dozen Russian nationals, including billionaires, an elusive linguist, an ambassador and a pop star. Source
  • What's next? Mueller ends Russia investigation as big questions linger

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Now what? Special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his Trump-Russia investigation and on Friday delivered his final report to the attorney general. We may not get all the juicy details uncovered over the past 22 months -- at least not right away -- but this story is far from over. Source
  • Read the letter announcing the Mueller report conclusion

    World News CTV News
    Attorney General William Barr delivered a letter to Congress on Friday notifying the leaders of the Judiciary committees that special counsel Robert Mueller had submitted his report on the Russia investigation. The letter was addressed to Republican Sen. Source
  • Brazilian ex-president remains silent under questioning

    World News CTV News
    RIO DE JANEIRO -- Former Brazilian President Michel Temer remained silent when questioned by investigators Friday, a day after he was arrested as part of the country's sprawling Car Wash corruption probe. The probe has ensnared several top politicians and businessmen in the South American country, including former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is currently serving a 12-year sentence. Source
  • Mueller closes Russia investigation, delivers report to U.S. attorney general

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday turned over his long-awaited final report on the contentious Russia investigation that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump's presidency, entangled Trump's family and resulted in criminal charges against some of the president's closest associates. Source
  • Robert Mueller's report delivered to U.S. attorney general

    World News CBC News
    Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday turned over his long-awaited final report on the contentious Russia investigation that has cast a dark shadow over Donald Trump's presidency, entangled Trump's family and resulted in criminal charges against some of the president's closest associates. Source