Refugee welcome plans well underway in P.E.I.

Plans for the arrival of hundreds of Syrian refugees in P.E.I. early next year have been taking shape over the past three weeks, says the province.

100 Syrian refugees will arrive on the Island by the end of the year with 150 more in the new year

By the end of February 2016, P.E.I. will welcome 250 Syrian refugees under Canada's resettlement plan. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

Plans for the arrival of hundreds of Syrian refugees in P.E.I. early next year have been taking shape over the past three weeks, says the province.

The province announced on Nov. 25 that P.E.I. will welcome 100 refugees by the end of 2015 and another 150 by the end of February 2016 as part of the federal government's initiative to resettle 25,000 Syrians over the next three months.

With the large number of people due to arrive in a few weeks, a ministerial advisory council with representatives from settlement service groups, private sponsors and government departments has been organized to co-ordinate efforts.

"As Islanders are aware, much of this planning has taken place quickly in response to the humanitarian emergency that is unfolding on the other side of the world," said PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada executive director Craig Mackie in a news release Thursday.

"We've been impressed with the generosity and support of Islanders."

Donation centre to close temporarily

Since November's announcement more than 250 Islanders have responded to a call for volunteers, said the province. Private sponsor groups have also organized volunteers.

The Department of Health and Wellness and Health PEI have co-ordinated efforts to handle an anticipated increase in services for newcomers to P.E.I., like immunization clinics.

Supports have also been put in place for children entering the public school system and for access to language training for adults.

The government has also reached out to organizations and municipalities to discuss partnerships.

A donation centre, opened Nov. 29 in the former Coast Guard warehouse across from the Delta Hotel in Charlottetown, will close temporarily after Dec. 19 for inventory, notes the province.

It will then be determined what specific donations are still required. However, the donation centre will remain open to new refugees who want to choose from what's available.

Over the past number of years, P.E.I. has welcomed 40 to 60 refugees annually, said the province.

Population growth is "very important to the province's future," and its economic prosperity, said the government.


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