Federal government likely to hit target of 25,000 refugees this week

Canada is preparing to shrink the size of the operation to bring in Syrian refugees, says the immigration minister.

Immigration Minister John McCallum will bring proposal to cabinet to accept more Syrian refugees

The Ali family and a welcoming party at Halifax Stanfield Airport. This week the federal government will likely hit the target of 25,000 refugees, but because one third of those are privately sponsored, another 8,000 government-sponsored refugees will be coming to Canada from Syria by year's end. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

As Justin Trudeau's government prepares to bring in its 25,000th Syrian refugee, likely this week, the minister responsible says the operation will get smaller, but not stop.

"It will be a scaled-down operation. Once we get the big target, the remainder will be at a slower pace," said Immigration Minister John McCallum

That likely means an end to Syrians arriving in Canada by the planeload, he added — at least on a regular basis.

Trudeau campaigned on bringing 25,000 government-sponsored Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of 2015. Once in office, government officials said it would take more time, pushing back the deadline to the end of February and saying not all of those who came would be government sponsored.

The Liberals now seem poised to meet their revised target.

"I guess the first thing is we say is 'Isn't this nice we've hit 25,000?' After that there will be more coming but I don't know the precise number," said McCallum.

He estimated that of the 25,000, about 17,000 will be government-sponsored. The rest come through private sponsorship.

The remaining 8,000 government-sponsored Syrian refugees required to fulfil the Liberal pledge will be brought in, said McCallum, and "probably more."

In the past, he's talked of bringing in a total of somewhere between 35,000 and 50,000 Syrian refugees, though he said that number would have be discussed by cabinet.

On Monday McCallum said he'll reveal how many refugees he intends to bring in as part of a plan being presented to Parliament by March 9.


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