There shouldn't be 'specific deadline' on bringing in Syrian refugees: Brad Wall

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is thanking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for "showing flexibility" on the issue of Syrian refugees coming to Canada.

Federal government extends deadline to take in 25,000 refugees by 2 months

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, left, speaks during a First Ministers meeting at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is thanking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for "showing flexibility" on the issue of Syrian refugees coming to Canada.

On Tuesday, the Liberal government announced it would be extending its deadline to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by two months.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has now set the end of February 2016 as a new target date. The deadline was previously by the end of the year.

The federal government said it will identify all 25,000 selected refugees by Dec. 31, 2015, but only 10,000 will arrive by year's end.

Last week, Premier Wall asked Ottawa to suspend its Syrian refugee plan.

While he was not available to speak to reporters on Tuesday, Wall released the following statement:

First of all, I want to thank Prime Minister Trudeau for showing flexibility on this matter. Specifically, I want to thank him for his decision on the December 31 deadline. I know that he values the safety and security of all Canadians and wants to ensure a successful settlement for refugees in their new communities.

While the decision to move back the deadline is welcomed, I still don't believe there should be a specific deadline at all. A target date is reasonable. But all the time that might be necessary to ensure security and successful settlement should be taken, whether that can get done by the end of February or not.

Wall is expected to address the media tomorrow morning.

Regina mayor supports new targets

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere addresses the media on Tuesday, Nov. 24. (Glenn Reid/CBC)

Little has been said about what cities will receive Syrian refugees, when, or how many.

Even municipal leaders across Canada don't know much more than what was said in the announcement.

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere also commented on the Syrian refugees last week. "The issue here is timing, not that we have people coming in," he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Fougere said he supports the federal government's new target.

"It's a balanced approach that meets the needs of those coming over to Canada, and also settlement agencies in provinces and cities that are there to provide that service," he said.

Fougere added the Regina Open Door Society (RODS) is the lead agency in the city and they will likely get the exact numbers and dates before anyone else.

"The most challenging part now is being organized to receive them. We have a great infrastructure. RODS has a great infrastructure of helping out the refugees. They do a great job all the time, so that point of finding donations, finding accommodations are important, but they do a great job for that. The other challenge is receiving them, making sure we're ready to go."

Local agencies preparing

Lori Steward, community relations manager with Global Gathering Place in Saskatoon, said agencies in the city are preparing for the new arrivals by recruiting interpreters, recruiting volunteers and asking for funds. 

Steward said the numbers for Saskatoon are still not confirmed, but her agency, as well as the Open Door Society, are preparing to support government assisted refugees.

"It would be nice to know more," she said. "But we're very excited to be able to welcome refugees to come here. And we really feel that we're putting in the supports to be able to deal with whatever happens." 

Steward said housing needs will be coordinated through the Open Door Society. Right now they are taking calls from people who are offering spaces or apartments.

Global Gathering Place will help newcomers with other settlement needs, such as helping refugees learn to navigate the public transit system. They are looking for volunteers who will help travel with newcomers by bus when they first arrive. 

"There are also many Arabic speakers in the community who are willing to volunteer, as well as we offer paid interpreters."


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