As Syrian refugees celebrate the one-year anniversary of their arrival, members of a Westmount synagogue say they have no idea what's going on with their ongoing attempts to bring two Syrian families here.
Members of Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom started the sponsorship process in September 2015. The plan originally was to bring one family to Montreal, but the response from the community was such that they decided to sponsor two instead.
Denise Grossman, president of the temple, said as far as they have heard, both families have passed their medicals and security investigations are done. One is in Lebanon and the other is in Jordan.
What they know is the families are still committed to coming here. But apart from that, she said they can't get any information from the government about what stage their application is at.
"Our organization is a little frustrated, or greatly frustrated, in that we stepped forward with all good intentions and we don't know where anything is at this point," Grossman said in an interview on CBC Montreal's Daybreak.
They have reached out to Marc Garneau, their MP, and Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, but to no avail.
Lack of timeline is frustrating
Between the two families, there are nine children who now aren't going to school and have had their routines disrupted, Grossman said.
Rabbi Lisa Grushcow said the problem is that it's unclear when the families will arrive in Montreal. She said they've heard from other private sponsors who have received one or two weeks notice at most.
"A timeline would be a tremendous help," she said.
And while the members have worked to prepare for their arrival, there are certain things — renting apartments, setting them up, enrolling the kids in schools — that can't be done until they actually get here.
"We've put everything in place and we're just waiting," Grossman said.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government must "make significant improvements" to the refugee system, acknowledging the frustration that can be trying for both bureaucrats and immigrants.
Trudeau said while the government would like to do things "as smooth and efficient as possible," bringing refugees to Canada who may not have all the necessary paperwork is challenging, and the government must ensure it has covered all its bases on the national security front.