Former refugee board chair says 1 year not enough for some refugees to find employment

Peter Showler, former chairman of Canada's immigration and refugee board, says that few of the refugee families he has worked with have found gainful employment after one year.

Peter Showler says lack of language training can be a barrier to integration

Peter Showler is the former head of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. He belongs to a group that has helped four Syrian families settle in Ottawa. (Peter Showler)

A former chair of Canada's immigration and refugee board says government sponsored refugees often can't find gainful employment before their 12-month sponsorship runs out. 

Peter Showler is part of a group that has helped four Syrian families resettle in Ottawa. 

In an interview with Ottawa Morning, Showler said the biggest barrier to finding work, and integrating into Canadian life, is language. 

"They can't get enough language skills within the 12 months to find work that would support a family of five, six or seven."

Showler said English as a second language training (ESL) can't help refugees if they can't get to the classes.

"Often what happens is the father gets into ESL quite quickly," he said. "The mother ends up staying home for the first six or seven months because they're taking care of a young child because they can't get into daycare."

Showler said families end up relying on private groups, such as his, to transition after the 12-month period.