Ontario wants Ottawa to connect government refugees, private sponsors
Wynne says private sponsors are ready to take refugees being housed in hotels
Ontario is suggesting that a backlog of refugees in temporary housing could be cleared by pairing them up with private sponsors who have yet to receive families.
Premier Kathleen Wynne says her government has advocated to Ottawa for "making connections" between the government-assisted refugees and sponsors who are "ready and willing" to accept them.
The influx of Syrian refugee arrivals has forced agencies in three cities to request a break in the action to hire extra staff and find permanent homes for those who have already arrived before any more are cleared to come to Canada.
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The federal government says the flow will not be slowing down, but refugees who were bound for Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa will now remain in hotels for a few extra days.
"There are sponsoring families and groups that are ready to take refugees but they haven't had people identified for them," Wynne told a news conference in Toronto on Tuesday. "And there are people sitting in hotels who don't have access to housing and don't have that support."
"What we have done is ask the federal government to look at making those connections," Wynne said.
Immigration Minister John McCallum said Ottawa is "actively looking" at Wynne's suggestion.
"At a certain level it definitely makes sense," he said. "There are some other issues involved, but we are looking into that."
McCallum also responded to media reports that some government-sponsored refugees said they're not getting much help and would rather go back to their refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.
"I think the vast majority of refugees are happy to be here, and I think they are receiving a warm welcome and they will go to a place where they will have more permanent housing," McCallum said. "They will find jobs and they will become working Canadians like all the refugees in past waves have become."
Since November 4, 2015, 13,764 Syrians have arrived in Canada, of which 7,926 are government-assisted, 4,985 privately sponsored and 853 a blend of the two programs.
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.