MONTREAL – With Syrian refugees arriving in Montreal at a much slower pace than originally expected, the city is overhauling its refugee services.
Montreal had expected to welcome over 4,000 government-sponsored refugees by the end of 2015 but so far, only 19 have arrived.
As a result, the city is closing its coordinating committee, led by Michel Dorais, and creating a newcomers’ integration office instead.
The office will work with all immigrants arriving in the city, not only Syrian refugees.
Mayor Denis Coderre said the money invested in Dorais’ salary – $1,800 a day – was money well spent.
“It’s money well spent because Montreal is about diversity, it’s about new arrivals,” he said.
“We’re all sons or daughters of immigrants ourselves and we built up this country. We built up this city with its diversity.”
Meanwhile, the opposition is criticizing the mayor’s move.
“Montrealers have then paid Michel Dorais $1,800 a day to only receive 19 refugees,” said Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, Projet Montréal’s councillor for Maisonneuve-Longue-Pointe.
“Hiring the mayor’s acquaintance was embarrassing enough.”
On the other hand, the mayor went on to say that the creation of this new office is “long overdue.”
A team of about 10 employees will serve as an anchoring point for different organizations helping newcomers.
According to the city, about 100 immigrants arrive in Montreal every day.
The city also said it is expecting many more refugees to arrive within the next few weeks.
© 2016 Shaw Media