Extension on Syrian refugee deadline 'a bit of a breather,' settlement group says
Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba says housing will still be issue
The Liberal government has extended its plans to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year – giving local settlement groups "a bit of a breather."
On Tuesday, officials said only 10,000 would make it to Canada by Dec. 31. An additional 15,000 will be admitted by the end of February 2016.
Federal government officials did promise to have all 25,000 refugees selected by the end of the year, but arrivals would be spread across two more months.
- EXCLUSIVE | Justin Trudeau justifies refugee delay, saying Liberals want to 'get it right'
- CBC IN BEIRUT | For Syrian refugee family, Canada offers hope — but a faint one
- Syrian refugees in Canada: Military, medical staff get ready
"We're all very keen to work and see our government bringing in this many refugees, but the fact that it's going to be spread out over a few more months means that we can do our jobs more effectively," said Carlos Vialard, the director of housing and community development for the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba. "I think, more importantly, that Syrian refugees will have a better attention paid to the multiple needs that they will bring with them."
Housing has been a major issue in jurisdictions across Canada, and Manitoba has set up a command centre to co-ordinate resources.
"Especially when we look at the market that's available to people who are on lower incomes, that market is particularly challenging," said Vialard. "We're always struggling with that, but we know that situations like these will also bring people forward."
Vialard said the longer time frame means "a few more people can enjoy the subsidized housing," but it will still be tight.
He said he was disappointed to hear about limits on unaccompanied adult men.
On Monday, the federal government revealed it would only allow in women, children and families. It softened that direction on Tuesday, saying gay men would be allowed in also.
"We've worked with the refugee movement for a very long time," said Vialard. "Men, unaccompanied men, women, and we have never had any serious security issues so I don't like the idea that single men may create a danger to Canadians. I don't like that that is a part of the conversation."
Premier Greg Selinger has said Manitoba can accommodate up to 2,000 refugees by the end of the year.