Thousands of Syrian refugees are in line for refurbished computers to help them resettle into their new communities, jobs and schools.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains held a news conference today to announce a one-time investment of $1.25 million to help distribute 7,500 computers to newcomers.

"There's no question this investment will have a positive impact on individuals and families, but there's also a bonus here for the Canadian economy more broadly," he said. "So many of the jobs of the future rely on digital skills. Economic growth in all of our sectors depend on our ability to adapt, adopt and integrate digital technologies. It really is a win-win situation."

The computers will be distributed by various resettlement organizations, which will also provide digital skills training.

Enhanced job opportunities

The program, which will be run through Computers for Schools, is meant to help new arrivals gain skills for job opportunities, and also help them keep connected with family members abroad. It has also partnered with organizations to bundle complementary services, including:

  • CIBC is offering a low-cost banking package for new Canadians.
  • CN is providing transportation for donated computers.
  • Facebook is offering MediaSmarts online safety information in Arabic.
  • Microsoft is donating Windows and Office licences for every computer provided to a Syrian refugee.

​The news conference was held at CultureLink Settlement Services, a refugee settlement organization in downtown Toronto. 

In addition to adapting to a new culture and society, Syrian refugees are working to find housing, employment, education and, in some cases, obtain a driver's licence.

In large cities such as Toronto, hundreds of refugees have been living in hotels while searching for affordable housing.

Newfoundland Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugees listen to speakers at a recent orientation event held in St. John's. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Last month, the government reached its target of bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum said efforts will now focus on helping the newcomers find permanent living arrangements, jobs and language training. 

Today, he met with his provincial and territorial counterparts in Ottawa to discuss immigration and refugee targets and the resettlement process.

"We are definitely pleased overall with the success of the Syrian mission, but there are many questions in terms of how we will implement it well moving forward in terms of language training, jobs and housing and so on," he said.

So far, 1,077 government-assisted refugees have been settled into homes in the Greater Toronto Area, while another 850 are still waiting in hotels across the city, according to COSTI immigrant services, which helps refugees and immigrants settle in Canada.