Cost of Syrian refugee plan pegged at $1.2B over 6 years

The cost of the Liberal government’s plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees has been pegged at $1.2 billion over the next six years, The Canadian Press has learned.

Liberal government has not yet revealed specifics of its plan to resettle 25,000 refugees by Dec. 31

Syrian refugees line up to receive aid for the winter from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Tripoli, northern Lebanon. Some information has already been leaked about the Liberal plan to resettle 25,000 refugees but there are still outstanding questions about the details of the new policy. (Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

The cost of the Liberal government's plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees has been pegged at $1.2 billion over the next six years, The Canadian Press has learned.

A government document obtained by The Canadian Press that lays out the proposed funding model says $876.7 million would be needed in 2015-2016 alone.

Some of that will be covered this year by $16.6 million announced by the previous Conservative government during the election and $100 million coming out of an existing pool of funds to respond to international crises.

The document, called "Responding to the Syrian Refugee Crisis: Rapid Resettlement of 25,000 Syrians Funding Table," says $1.1 billion in new money will be required between now and 2021.

The document says six government departments will require funds to handle the program, including Immigration, which would need $528.4 million this year and Defence, which requires $98.7 million.

What's not clear from the funding model is how much of the money is connected to the year-end target to bring in that many Syrians in total and how much to the Liberal promise that the government itself would settle that many over a longer time period.

The Immigration department would not provide any detail.

"We don't comment on leaked documents," a spokesman for the department told The Canadian Press in an e-mail.

"Once final decisions are made, the Government of Canada will provide more details."

Few details on resettlement plans

The federal government has yet to formally reveal the specifics of the plan to meet the Dec. 31 target of resettling 25,000 people, a commitment made during the election campaign.

The Liberal platform only earmarked $100 million for refugee resettlement this year, in addition to $100 million for the United Nations refugee agency, which is co-ordinating global resettlement efforts.

The six departments slated to receive funds are Immigration, Defence, Public Health, Shared Services Canada, Global Affairs Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency .

CBSA is the only one which will receive money over the full six years, $48.8 million overall.

Security screening for refugees is one of the sticking points of the plan and gained new urgency following attacks in Paris last week that were linked to extremists who may have entered Europe as a refugees.

The funding table also builds in a contingency fund and notes the immigration department will lose $18.4 million in revenue because of the program.

In their platform, the Liberals had promised the government would resettle 25,000 Syrians directly.

But the group slated for resettlement by Dec. 31 is to be made up of mostly government-assisted refugees and privately-sponsored ones.

Private sponsors usually cover nearly all the costs themselves.

The Liberals say they will eventually resettle 25,000 people directly through government channels, but the end-of-year target was always intended to be a blend.

Settlement agencies and the provinces have also said the scope of the refugee resettlement program would require significant new funding for them as well, but the document does not break out if that's coming.