Metro Morning

Canada 'committed' to plan to resettle 25K Syrian refugees by Jan. 1: John McCallum

The Liberal government has just 51 days to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, an ambitious goal the government set for itself during the fall election campaign.

Liberal government believes Canadians are on board with ambitious goal

Canada's goal: to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to this country by New Year's Day. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty)

The Liberal government has just 51 days to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, an ambitious goal the government set for itself during the fall election campaign.

John McCallum, the Markham-Thornhill MP and new minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, said he's sticking to that deadline and vows to do a good job as well.

"I've said 101 times in the past several days: we are committed to that target," McCallum told CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

This is what Canada has always been all about.- John  McCallum , Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

​McCallum hasn't announced a specific plan yet, however a powerful committee which includes the ministers for defence and foreign affairs, has already been created to help guide the process. The government hasn't released a price tag for the operation, though McCallum admitted "it won't be cheap" and that it may cost all $200 million the Liberals put aside for the plan.

He said he's also banking on Canadians as well as the private sector to help with the effort.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum said the government will announce an official plan in due course. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
"This is what Canada has always been about," McCallum said, referencing the some 60,000 refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia this country welcomed following the Vietnam War.

"I think Canadians will be on side."

On Metro Morning, McCallum was pressed on whether or not it's wise to adhere to such a short timeline when it comes to such a complex issue.

McCallum said the government is giving "total concern" to issues like security screening and to the health of the refugees. He also said the government is working with the United Nations to identify the refugees who are most in need and bring them to Canada.

He also pointed out that the violence in Syria isn't getting any better and in fact may be getting worse.

"This is the worst refugee crisis in decades," he said.

McCallum, the Royal Bank of Canada's chief economist for six years who also spent two decades teaching economics at McGill and Simon Fraser universities, said the government expects to present its Syria refugee resettlement plan in due course.

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