Manitoba government meets with agencies to plan for Syrian refugee arrivals

Manitoba government officials met with local front-line agencies and organizations that work with refugees on Wednesday to work together on welcoming upwards of 2,000 Syrian refugees in the coming weeks.
Ben Rempel, assistant deputy minister with Manitoba Labour and Immigration, says while the federal government's plan to bring Syrian refugees into Canada has been coming together quickly, the province has been preparing. (CBC)

Manitoba government officials met with local front-line agencies and organizations that work with refugees on Wednesday to work together on welcoming upwards of 2,000 Syrian refugees in the coming weeks.

The province hosted a planning session with service providers on Wednesday to discuss how they can work together to help 1,500 to 2,000 newcomers settle here, in response to the federal Liberal government's pledge to bring a total of 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada by the end of this year.

Ben Rempel, assistant deputy minister with Manitoba Labour and Immigration, says while the federal government's plan has been coming together quickly, the province has been preparing.

"I think we've all been impressed to the extent that the community has been ready and engaged to come forward with ideas about housing, ideas about how they can welcome and support these newcomers," he said.

Many of the organizations that work with refugees have also been gearing up for the anticipated influx.

"It's exciting, but it's also going to be very challenging, so our minds are racing right now in terms of how do we respond — not only as an organization, but more how does Manitoba respond to this?" said Carlos Vialard, director of housing and community development with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM).

Vialard said IRCOM's second apartment building is opening by April and should be able to house upwards of 28 Syrian families.

The province says it's waiting to hear from Ottawa on when the refugees will start arriving.