Nearly two weeks after its self-imposed deadline passed, the department of Citizenship and Immigration has reached an important milestone in the Syrian refugee resettlement process.
Numbers posted on the department website indicate that the 10,000th Syrian refugee is set to touch down on Canadian soil sometime Tuesday. As of Jan. 10, the number of arrivals stood at 9,562, with no flights scheduled for Jan. 11.
An additional 620 Syrian refugees were expected to land in Montreal and Toronto on Jan. 12, however, bringing to total to 10,182. The arrival times were not made available by the department.
“Today we welcome the 10,000th refugee from the Syrian crisis to Canada,” tweeted Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne early Tuesday morning, confirming the numbers. “The compassion of Ontarians settling refugees has been inspiring.”
The initial target date for 10,000 arrivals had been Dec. 31. The next deadline, which Immigration Minister John McCallum has said he is confident can be respected, is Feb. 29. By then, Ottawa hopes to have brought over 25,000 Syrians to Canada. The refugees have been arriving in either Toronto or Montreal, with two or three planeloads a day touching down since the beginning of the month. From there, they have made their way to communities across Canada.
While it was a central plank in the new Liberal government’s platform, welcoming thousands of Syrians who are fleeing conflict in the Middle East has proven logistically challenging almost from the start.
The government initially set a target of 25,000 arrivals by New Year’s Day, but that was quickly downgraded to 10,000. As the deadline loomed, McCallum began focusing on the number of refugees that had been processed and given documentation rather than only those who had arrived. When the two totals were combined, the government did reach 10,000 by Jan. 31. The combined total by Jan. 10 was 14,894.
McCallum provided several explanations for the repeated shortfalls, including weather issues and “human nature.” Not every refugee can be ready to pack up and leave for Canada within a few days, the minister told reporters, adding that he expected the number of daily arrivals to increase in the first weeks of 2016.
© 2016 Shaw Media