Ottawa won't say how many privately-sponsored Syrian refugees Canada will take

OTTAWA -- Through pub nights, crowd funding websites, church suppers and craft bazaars, thousands of Canadians are currently trying to raise money to sponsor a Syrian refugee.

See Full Article

But it remains an open question just how many privately sponsored Syrian refugees Canada will end up accepting.

The ongoing Liberal refugee resettlement program aims to bring 25,000 Syrians to Canada by the end of next month, with original plans for about 10,000 of them to be privately sponsored.

But newly released government information shows that by the middle of last December, the government didn't even have that many private applications in hand.

Data tabled in the House of Commons in response to a question from the NDP shows that between January 1, 2015, and Dec. 15, 2015, applications were submitted to sponsor 8,214 people.

There was a spike of 551 applications last October -- one month after a photograph of a dead Syrian child shone a spotlight on the plight of the 4.6 million people seeking refugee from the violence in Syria.

The ensuing national debate on whether Canada was doing enough shone drew many Canadians to the government's private sponsorship program, among them Devon Klaas of Toronto.

Through Facebook, Klaas found seven others willing to band together to sponsor a refugee. They've raised the money and now they're working to find a family to support.

"It could be months from now, but it could also be next week," she said.

According to the data, processing times for privately sponsored applications averaged about 10 months last year.

While the Liberals say they remain committed to bringing in 25,000 government assisted refugees by the end of this year, they've not actually set a firm number for how many privately sponsored ones they will accept.

"The final number of privately sponsored Syrian refugees that will be resettled to Canada will depend in part on the number of private sponsors that express an interest in sponsoring, and on the 2016 Immigration Levels Plan that is expected to be tabled in the coming weeks," the Citizenship and Immigration department said.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan, who asked the government for the data released this week, said part of the issue is how the privately sponsored program is structured.

Rather than relying on UN lists or cases identified by private groups, the government should reach out to the Syrians already here, Kwan said.

"If the families could make applications here and say, 'This is the family, this is where they are,' and for that to be a match, that would assist the government to reach their numbers."

The Liberals did unveil a similar program this week that seeks to pair Syrians in Canada with sponsorship groups seeking people to help.

For groups like the one organized by Klaas, the waiting game is hard.

"It has been discouraging for us because we've been ready to go for a few months. We want to help," she said. "But we still meet, we're still constantly talking to each other."

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested this week that private sponsors could take in government-assisted refugees already in Canada, but still waiting for permanent housing, leaving them stuck in hotels.

As of Jan. 26, 14,003 Syrians have arrived in Canada since Nov. 4. Of that, 8,004 government assisted, 5,112 privately sponsored and 887 as part of a program that blends the two. A further 5,886 Syrians have been approved to come to Canada, but have not yet arrived.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'I cannot promise we will never make another mistake': Quebec cardinal on sex abuse summit

    Canada News CTV News
    Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet says Pope Francis' historic summit on preventing sex abuse in the clergy is a good first step but says "I cannot promise we will never make another mistake." Ouellet told CTV News' Paul Workman that the Vatican is taking the allegations of sex abuse seriously, citing the historic summit as the first step in reconciliation. Source
  • Polish activists pull down statue of priest in abuse protest

    World News CTV News
    WARSAW, Poland -- Activists in Poland pulled down a statue of a priest early Thursday after increasing allegations that he sexually abused minors, a stunt they said was to protest the failure of the Polish Catholic Church in resolving the problem of clergy sex abuse. Source
  • Catalan secessionists block highways, train tracks in strike

    World News CTV News
    BARCELONA, Spain -- Strikers backing Catalonia's secession from Spain blocked major highways, train tracks and roads across the northeastern region on Thursday to protest the trial of a dozen separatist leaders. The general strike was organized by small unions of pro-independence workers and students. Source
  • Family may lose home after learning Medicare won't cover lifesaving surgery

    Canada News CBC News
    Marilyn Steele held onto her life but may lose her home because of lifesaving surgery her Fredericton doctor said couldn't be done in these parts. Steele got the surgery within days of a devastating cancer diagnosis, but not in Fredericton or anywhere else in Canada. Source
  • Louisiana woman charged in shooting of her pet llama, Earl

    World News CTV News
    OPELOUSAS, La. -- A Louisiana woman is accused of shooting her pet llama named Earl who she says attacked her. News outlets report 67-year-old Madeline Bourgeois told St. Landry Parish Sheriff's deputies that Earl had attacked her last week while she was working in her pasture. Source
  • More than 150 IS militants handed over to Iraq from Syria

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group in Syria handed over more than 150 Iraqi members of the group to Iraq, the first batch of several to come, an Iraqi security official said Thursday. Source
  • Students abused at Catholic school for deaf boys in Verona seek closure at Pope's summit

    World News CBC News
    Alessandro Vantini uses crude gestures to illustrate the way three priests abused him throughout his entire childhood at a school for deaf boys in the northern Italian city of Verona. He said one clergyman regularly hit him with a stick and sodomized him. Source
  • Ottawa could face four class-action lawsuits over $165M error at Veterans Affairs

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal government now faces four proposed class-action lawsuits over a $165 million accounting error at Veterans Affairs that shortchanged more than 250,000 former soldiers, sailors and aircrew, CBC News has learned. The latest claim was filed this week by the Ottawa law firm headed by retired colonel Michel Drapeau. Source
  • First post-SNC-Lavalin polls look bad for Trudeau Liberals

    Canada News CBC News
    The fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair is only beginning to rain down on Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government but it seems to be having an impact — one that could put the Liberals on track to defeat in this fall's federal election. Source
  • Pope opens sex abuse summit amid outcry from survivors

    World News CTV News
    VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis has opened a high-level summit of church leaders on preventing clergy sex abuse, hoping to impress on bishops from around the world that the problem is global and requires a global response. Source