Canada won't guarantee goal of 10,000 Syrian refugees by year end

John McCallum says government will have identified 10,000 refugees to admit by that time

OTTAWA — Canada’s immigration minister says the government is still working towards its goal of bringing 10,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year but would not guarantee it will actually happen.

John McCallum said the government will have identified the 10,000 refugees who will be on Canadian soil in the coming months, but could not provide specific details on exactly when all will actually arrive.

McCallum blamed delays on inclement flying weather, refugees wanting to say goodbye to friends and families, and other circumstances beyond the government’s control.

He said there was a “good chance” that there will be 10,000 refugees by year end, but it wasn’t a guarantee because there were only eight more days to bring some 8,000 refugees into the country.

McCallum said the government still expects to meet its overall goal of resettling 25,000 refugees well before the end of February.

“We are moving heaven and earth to get them here as quickly as we can but to do it in a way that is correct and appropriate and takes due concern for security, medical and other issues,” McCallum said.

“We are sticking to our target of 10,000 by the end of the year, but there are challenges and it’s less possible to guarantee that than it is the 25,000 target, but we are still committed to it and we are still working very hard to achieve it.

McCallum made the comments during a briefing with reporters in Ottawa about the government’s progress on the Syrian refugee file.

During the election, the Liberals promised to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada by the end of the year, a higher number than both the NDP and Conservatives combined.

In November, the Liberals amended that promise saying the government would bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February with the first 10,000 to have landed by year end.

As of Dec. 21, 1,869 refugees had landed with five more flights appearing on the public schedule that are set to land between today and Dec. 31. One of those flights is in the air with 298 refugees on board and is to land in Montreal Wednesday.

McCallum said that the government has the capacity to run up to five flights a day.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.