Wynne to announce funding for Syrian refugees

Big city mayors hold teleconference to discuss plans to aid Syrian refugees

QUEBEC — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne urged Ottawa on Friday to speed up its process to welcome more refugees to Canada.

Wynne also said she will make a funding announcement on Saturday related to the crisis.

“I will continue to ask the federal government to streamline their processes so more refugees can come to the country and can come to Ontario,” she told a news conference in Quebec City ahead of a meeting between her cabinet and Premier Philippe Couillard’s.

“I think there should be…a quicker process and I think the federal government needs to step up to that responsibility.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been steadfast that accepting more refugees and sending humanitarian assistance to displaced people in the Middle East is not enough, and that dealing with the root cause of the problem — taking the military fight to Islamic militants responsible for the carnage — is essential.

On Thursday, however, he suggested Canada can and will do more to help Syrian refugees in the face of mounting public pressure on his Conservative government over the past week.

Both Wynne and Couillard said it is possible to welcome more refugees and at the same time guarantee the security of Canadians.

“The two are not mutually exclusive,” she said. “Having the right security measures in place, having the right documentation and the need for documentation, all of that is very very necessary. At the same time, I think there is more we can do as a nation to expedite the process.”

The two leaders echoed their earlier thoughts when they held a news conference after the meeting.

“A country as rich as ours must do more,” Couillard said. “And we have the means to do more.”

Also on Friday, the mayors of Canada’s largest cities announced that they are working to co-ordinate their efforts to help Syrian refugees.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is chairman of the Big City Mayors’ Caucus, and he says it held a teleconference this morning to discuss the crisis.

Twenty-one mayors including Toronto’s John Tory, Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi and Montreal’s Denis Coderre are members of the caucus.

Robertson says mayors compared notes on what their cities are currently doing to settle refugees and discussed ways to synchronize their strategies.

He says many cities have held town hall meetings in the past week and have seen the public’s interest in refugees skyrocket.

Robertson says the number of refugees admitted by

Canada is “unacceptably low” and many mayors are advocating for more to be accepted.