TORONTO – Premier Kathleen Wynne says despite “challenges,” Ontario is on track to receive 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of this month.
The federal government is aiming to settle 25,000 refugees by the end of February, with about two-thirds expected to be government-assisted.
About 7,000 Syrian refugees have already settled in Ontario since Dec. 10 and on Monday the premier announced details of some of the funding committed to helping them.
The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants is receiving about $343,000 for trauma and mental-health training for front-line workers as well as a public education campaign, and COSTI Immigrant Services is receiving $283,000 to deliver workshops and orientation resources to refugees.
That money is part of the $8.5 million Ontario pledged over 2 1/2 years to support refugees.
Wynne says the refugee resettlement has “been a remarkable success story,” though she admits there have been “some timing issues.”
“We knew that a resettlement of this scale would not be without its challenges,” Wynne said Monday. “We can be confident that our combined efforts are working, now, maybe not quite as quickly or as seamlessly as we would like in every single case. There will always be situations where there are refinements that are needed, but we are rising to the occasion.”
The influx of Syrian refugee arrivals prompted agencies in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa to request a break in the action to hire extra staff and find permanent homes for those who have already arrived before any more are cleared to come to Canada.
Wynne suggested last month that government-assisted refugees who were still in temporary housing at hotels could be paired with private sponsors. But federal Immigration Minister John McCallum said while the idea made sense on its surface, there were too many flaws in the proposal.
As of Feb. 4, 16,565 Syrians have arrived in Canada since Nov. 4.
Of that, 9,753 were government assisted, 5,639 privately sponsored and 1,173 as part of a program that blends the two.
© 2016 The Canadian Press