Quebec's role in Canada's Syrian refugee plan: What we know

The federal plan to welcome 25,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees will be unveiled today, and a few details about Quebec’s role have already started to trickle in.

Valcartier will coordinate operation, full federal plan to be unveiled Tuesday

Quebec does not have a policy of only giving women, children and families asylum, unlike the federal government. (CBC)

The federal plan to welcome 25,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees will be unveiled today, and a few details about Quebec's role have already started to trickle in.

Although the province is waiting for Ottawa to publish the federal plan before unveiling its own, this is what has been disclosed so far:

  • 3,650 refugees will be brought to Quebec by the end of year, 2,450 more than originally planned.
  • The first planeload of refugees will arrive on Dec. 1.
  • 2,900 refugees will be sponsored privately.
  • 750 will be sponsored by the province.
  • The most vulnerable ones will be helped first.
  • There is no policy to exclude single men in the provincial plan, unlike the federal plan.
  • The Quebec government is satisfied with federal screening measures to ensure security.

The federal government wants Quebec to accept 2,400 more refugees by the end of 2015, but Premier Philippe Couillard has said that won't happen without more financial assistance.

The roles of Valcartier and Bagotville bases

Details have also emerged on the roles of two military bases in Quebec in official documents obtained by Radio-Canada.

The Valcartier base will play a coordination role in the resettlement operation, providing not only immediate housing, but also translation, counselling, health, and other services.

The Valcartier military base will play a central coordinating role in the resettlement operation. (Radio-Canada)

The documents, signed by Brig.-Gen. Stéphane Lafaut, say that soldiers in both reserves have been asked to provide manpower in the many tasks of the operation. These include:

  • Housing.
  • Security of the premises.
  • Immunization and quarantine.
  • Creating community spaces.
  • Providing places of worship.
  • Finding Arab-speaking personnel for translation.

The military base will also have to put together a well-being plan to assist refugees through this traumatic moment in their lives.

Excluding single men problematic, group says

A Montreal-based refugee group says allowing only women, children and families from Syria into the country is problematic.

The CBC learned over the weekend that unaccompanied men will not be given asylum due to security concerns.

Paul Clarke of Actions Refugiés says while women with children can be more vulnerable, single men are often subject to the same dangers.

"In our society, we have this notion of a sinking ship, of women and children first. But at the same time, in our work with sponsorship, we've come across a lot of single males who do need protection, because they truly are refugees," he said.

Clarke say his group has helped a number of men who fled their countries to avoid being in a difficult military service.

"That being said, if the federal government wants to get as many people here as possible, it might make sense. But we know we'd be leaving people behind," Clarke added.


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