British Columbia

Canada's declining target for refugees 'doesn't add up' for immigration advocate

A man who helped thousands of Syrian refugees resettle in B.C. says he's disappointed Canada plans to accept fewer refugees next year.

Canada to accept 40,000 refugees next year, down from more than 56,000 this year

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets members of a Syrian refugee family during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Friday, July 1, 2016. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

A man who helped thousands of Syrian refugees resettle in B.C. says he's disappointed the number of refugees Canada plans to accept next year is dropping.

Yesterday federal Immigration Minister John McCallum announced new targets for the number of immigrants Canada will allow next year.

The targets include 40,000 refugees and protected persons, down from nearly 56,000 this year.

"You know I was a bit shocked and surprised," said Chris Friesen, the director of settlement services with the Immigrant Services Society of B.C.

He's hoping the federal government reconsiders the targets, given the outpouring of support for refugees over the past year. 

"Give the general response of the Canadian public has been supportive to refugee resettlement, it just doesn't add up," said Friesen.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even took the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on a tour of the society's new welcome centre for refugees in Vancouver.

Prince William and Kate meet with a family from Syria during a visit to the Immigrant Services Society in Vancouver in September. (The Canadian Press)

But when it comes to government-assisted refugees, the numbers are falling even more. 

Canada is promising to take in 7,500 government-assisted refugees in 2017, down from nearly 20,000 admitted so far this year, and still fewer than the nearly 10,000 admitted in 2015.

"Given the overall refugee crisis and the overall need for resettlement, we could and should do more," said Friesen.

Overall, Canada plans to accept 300,000 new immigrants next year, the same total as this year, but more of those immigrants will be economic and family migrants and fewer will be refugees and humanitarian cases:

  • 172, 000 skilled workers, businesspeople and caregivers, up from 160,000 this year.
  • 84,000 sponsored spouses, partners, children, parents and grandparents, up from 80,000 this year.
  • 40,000 refugees and protected persons, down from 55,800 this year.
  • 3,500 people on humanitarian or compassionate grounds, down from 3,600 this year.