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Immigration minister says Canada bringing in at least 35,000 Syrian refugees

Immigration Minister John McCallum told reporters today that the federal government remains focused on housing to help with the influx of Syrian refugees coming to Canada in the coming months.

Private sponsorships could drive up number to 50,000, John McCallum says

The immigration minister insists the federal government will adhere to a court ruling that calls for health care to be reinstated for refugees. 1:09

Immigration Minister John McCallum told reporters today that the federal government remains focused on housing to help with the influx of Syrian refugees coming to Canada in the coming months.

In a news conference where he was joined by provincial ministers Michael Chan and Eric Hoskins in Toronto, McCallum said the federal government vowed to bring in 25,000 government-sponsored refugees during the election campaign and they're sticking with that figure.

With private sponsors currently helping with 10,000, the total number of Syrians coming to Canada will be at least 35,000 and could hit 50,000 with enough sponsorships.

Each refugee will undergo a series of tests overseas to become a permanent resident and landed immigrant, McCallum said. This grants refugees access to benefits many Canadians enjoy, including legal rights, freedom of movement along with equal treatment and protections, to name a few. 

A federal court ruled in July 2014 that Conservative cuts to health care for refugees constituted "cruel and unusual" punishment.

McCallum also responded to a question about a report that only six per cent of Syrians are choosing Canada or the United States as their top choice for resettlement. 

More generally, this national project is going very well.- Immigration Minister John McCallum

"There's a huge enthusiasm to come to Canada," the minister said, adding the data may be incomplete because communications are not always reliable in that part of the world.

"I don't think that's the real number," he told reporters.

McCallum also reiterated his three top priorities for the refugees heading to Canada are: "housing, housing and housing." 

"This national project is going very well," the minister said, adding "there will be challenges along the way."

The government has said they would like to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year and 25,000 by March of next year. A federal map revealed Toronto will be receiving approximately 2,600 refugees in the process. 

Immigration Minister John McCallum says Canada will be bringing in anywhere from 35,000 to 50,000 private and government sponsored Syrian refugees. (CBC)

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