UPDATE: The government has released the proposed destinations for 217 Syrian refugees that have already been privately sponsored in British Columbia.
Vancouver – 54
New Westminster – 49
Burnaby – 31
Coquitlam – 20
Victoria – 10
Kelowna – 9
Surrey – 20
Delta – 6
Prince George – 5
Richmond – 10
Langley – 2
North Vancouver – 1
B.C. will be receiving 400 Syrian refugees by the end of the 2015 and a further 1,500 by the end of next February.
While it is not as many as was expected, B.C. still has to prepare to receive about 2,000 refugees within the next three months.
“It looks like, from technical briefings yesterday, we are going to receive about 400 Syrian refugees in December, the bulk coming in January and February. About 1,500 is what we’re now projecting, over that two months as government assisted refugees,” says Chris Friesen, chair of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance.
Although the government’s briefing provided provinces with more specific numbers, Friesen says they still have a lot of questions.
“We’re also waiting on more details around the funding, mending our existent agreements, to bring on additional staff in preparation for this influx over the next three months. ”
Related video: Syrian refugees expected to repay travel loans after arriving in Canada.
Friesen says there was a sigh of relief amongst himself and his colleagues across Canada when they found out they had two additional months, but he adds there is still much to be done to prepare.
“We’ve got to deal with all the things like opening bank accounts, and registering for care cards, and permanent resident cards, and child tax benefit, all the sort of bureaucratic necessities,” he says. “Then [they go] directly into permanent accommodation and then the whole system takes over, you know, registering kids in schools, getting the adults into English classes, etc.”
Another issue Friesen says has to be a priority is finding refugees permanent housing. During the first few weeks he explains refugees will be put in transitional housing, which may include hotels and motels.
“With some additional staff and the ongoing support of the public, from coast, to coast, to coast, we’re confident that we’ll get everybody into their homes, hopefully within the first month after they’ve arrived in Canada. ”
Friesen is flying to Toronto to attend a two-day workshop with colleagues from across Canada, as well as representatives of municipal governments, the Red Cross, sponsorship holders, and provincial and territorial representatives, to have a post-reception resettlement-focused meeting.
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