Maclean’s explains: The Liberal plan for Syrian refugees

The important details of the federal Liberal government’s plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees

Refugees are seen at the port after arriving in Athens, Greece on September 24, 2015. (Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Refugees are seen at the port after arriving in Athens, Greece on September 24, 2015. (Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

After much speculation and anticipation, the federal Liberal government detailed today its plan to resettle 25,000 refugees from Syria. Here are the important details as currently understood.

How many Syrian refugees will Canada accept under the federal government’s new plan?

In total, 25,000 refugees will be accepted by and transported to Canada under the new plan. As of November 3, a total of 3,089 Syrian refugees had been accepted under the previous government’s plan. Only refugees accepted after November 4 will count against the new goal of 25,000.

When will they get here?

The Liberal government had said its aim was for the 25,000 refugees to be in Canada by year’s end, but that has changed. The target now is to have 10,000 refugees resettled in Canada by December 31. A further 15,000 would be resettled by the end of February 2016.

Will the refugees be government-assisted or privately sponsored?

Of the 25,000 refugees, 15,000 will be government-assisted and 10,000 will be privately sponsored. The goal is to identify all 25,000 refugees by year’s end.

What did the Liberals promise during the campaign?

The Liberals promised that they would “expand Canada’s intake of refugees from Syria by 25,000 through immediate government sponsorship” and “work with private sponsors to accept even more.” The commitment of 25,000 government-sponsored refugees was understood to come with a deadline of year’s end.

How will refugees be selected?

Privately sponsored refugees will be identified by the individuals or groups who wish to sponsor them. Government-assisted refugees will be identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the government of Turkey. The federal government has asked the UNHCR to prioritize certain groups of refugees, specifically complete families, women at risk and members of the LGBTQI community. Single men who are members of the LGBTQI community, who are accompanying parents or who are privately sponsored will also be accepted. These are apparently the priorities under which Canada has been operating under for the last few years.

How will refugees be screened?

Immigration processing by Canadian officials will be conducted in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey—in total, 500 officials from Canada will be working overseas as part of the effort. Refugees registered with the UNHCR are issued registration cards and go through iris scans to confirm identity. Potential arrivals will be interviewed by Canadians officials, given medical examinations and subject to security screenings that include reviewing biometric and biographical data. The emergence of any reason for doubt or concern will result in the applicant’s file being set aside. Identification and health will be checked before travel to Canada and, upon arrival in Canada, refugees will be processed by the Canada Border Services Agency and given a medical examination.

Related: The UNHCR’s five-step process to screen refugees

How will the refugees get here?

The government intends to transport refugees from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to Canada via chartered aircraft. Military aircraft could be used if necessary.

How much will this cost?

The federal government is budgeting up to $678-million over six years to cover all costs. Provinces have recently expressed some concerns about the costs to their governments and the federal government will be discussing those costs with the provinces.

Where will the refugees go?

The chartered flights will land in Toronto and Montreal. Refugees who are not destined for those two cities will continue on. Privately sponsored refugees will go to their sponsors’ communities. Thirty-six communities across the country have also been identified by the federal government as possible destinations for refugees (more communities could be added). The Department of National Defence is preparing to house some refugees at military bases, but that option will only be used as a contingency.

What support will the refugees be given?

Basic needs and supplies will be provided for by the federal government and the government of Quebec. Refugees will also be able to access the interim federal health program, which provides basic and supplemental health services. Support for government-assisted refugees under the resettlement assistance program lasts up to one year.

What else will be done?

The federal government has established a website to direct Canadians who wish to donate money, volunteer and sponsor refugees.

What did the other parties promise during the campaign for Syrian refugees?

The Conservatives promised to resettle an additional 10,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees over the next four years, on top of the 10,000 they previously promised to resettle.

The New Democrats promised to resettle an additional 10,000 government-sponsored refugees by the end of year, and increase the number of government-sponsored Syrian refugees by 9,000 per year for the next four years.


Maclean’s explains: The Liberal plan for Syrian refugees

  1. It is very unfortunate that Trudeau is still trying to rush the issue of Syrian refugees coming to Canada and in doing so, out of security fear, has left out single men. A slow down to allow proper screening of them would have resulted in a much more productive group coming to Canada.

    • Don’t get conned by media speculation and pot stirring (remember when an Ottawa shopping mall was being attacked by armed terrorists?).

  2. The first of many “promises” the Liberal will break. And get this. Sending our troops into a war zone with no uniforms and no weapons. Justin will send them in riding Unicorns and armed with magic wands and pixie dust. Don’t blame me I didn’t vote for the moron.

  3. Well, this is neither the beginning nor the end of the mind-boggling blunders of the heartless Liberals. We have five more years to suffer through for the collective stupidity. Yet for all this, 60% of the Canadians didn’t vote for Mr. Trudeau. While this election win doesn’t belong to Liberals, the People certainly were defeated. Unions and media did everything (in)humanly possible to obfuscate, confuse, confound and divert attention from issues of the day. They conjured up the victory through a host of undemocratic means.
    No one can be proud of what happened during the elections. But there are some unsettling questions for CRTC and Elections Canada to deal with. The press freedom doesn’t stand alone. It is anchored on the Charter rights of the Canadian people to be informed. Has this right been compromised by the unions? The CRTC has to investigate the conduct of the press during the elections to see if the public trust was breached. The Elections Canada has to see if laws of election financing were violated when publicly financed news media spent all its energy solely on production, analysis and dissemination of a kind of news that focused on one party platform. It has also a duty to investigate the legal and ethical foundation as well as implications of strategic voting, identify its perpetrators, and ensure it doesn’t get repeated again.
    As for this Government’s preoccupation on refuge repatriation, and climate conferences, to the very certain exclusion the Country’s own ills and issues, this is what I would have to say: For God’s sake, convene the Parliament and get all the money you want from them to spend on all the fancy projects that your fancy minds can contrive. Right now, your hands are empty and therefore don’t promise anything to anybody. A Prime Minister has been elected to run a country. He hasn’t had time to settle down and prioritize his “to do list”. The Country runs on a Parliamentary democratic system. The Parliament hasn’t been convened to discuss the pros and cons of any action. No money can be committed for any program without specific Parliamentary approval. Yet what we see is that there is already a commitment of 650 million dollars to save Syrian people from Syrian Government – an action the Parliament doesn’t know yet.
    During the elections, didn’t we hear something from the frenzied media about Stephen Harper ignoring the elected parliament and running the Country like a dictator? Well, it was then and this is now.
    As for this commitment itself, wouldn’t that money be better spent on saving the Rohingiyas who are starving and dying by their hundreds in rag-tag boats in mid-seas or in the middle of the jungles surrounded not by a roof or four walls but by wild animals. They have been told by their own country that they do not have a country. Does anyone care? We can’t talk about all this and sully the name of Her Holiness Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Would anyone conjure up a plan to emancipate these unfortunate people from a slavery that the earth hasn’t witnessed, this side of the Neolithic period? Nope! The Governments have a nose for what is politically correct and they wouldn’t be derailed from their mission.

    Humanitarian rescue missions ?!? – A lot of bunkum

  4. Hey, I know the logistics involved meant that Trudeau “had” to change his mind, but he should still get credict for finally admitting it.

    And they are at least sticking with the Conservatives plan of focusing on women and kids. Any men of fighting age…should be fighting for their own country.

  5. Hold the phone … didn’t Michelle Rempel just regale us with tales of how the Harper gang had already approved so many Syrian refugees and planned to bring in 10,000 and how that would be of such great help (with the media not blinking an eye) when it turns out that the number is just over 3,000 and that won’t count towards the Trudeau government’s number.
    The assumption that the location of resettlement centers is equivalent to cities where GARs will be settled seems more than a little facile; for example, Kitchener could place refugees in New Hamburg or Elmira, Breslau, etc.

  6. So much for breaks to the middle class, there is no affordable housing in Toronto, even the low income housing is falling apart and needs major money to make them liveable. There goes sky high taxes in ontario again.

    • Don’t fool yourself…there will be no significant tax breaks for the middle class. That was just a line Trudeau used to get the ignorant to vote for him. In fact, wait until you see the increase in energy costs needed to meet his “climate change” goals. The new costs will far outweigh tax cuts you will see. In fact, given Trudeau’s promises, I would expect we’ll see some Deputy Ministers of the Finance department giving press conferences “requesting” the Liberals raise taxes; either Carbon taxes, or the GST.

      Don’t say you weren’t warned.

  7. productive group…are you serious

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