Alberta sets aside $1.25M to support Syrian refugee resettlement

WATCH ABOVE: The province is putting the final pieces in place to accommodate more Syrian refugees in Alberta. Tom Vernon has the details.

EDMONTON – The Alberta government is setting aside an additional $1 million to support refugee resettlement. The province pledged $250,000 in early September.

Lori Sigurdson, minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, said the province is expecting between 2,500 and 3,000 Syrian refugees between now and February.

They’ll come to Alberta after first arriving in Toronto and Montreal.

She said they will be settled in five Alberta communities chosen because of the capacity they have: Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

Alberta has appointed a provincial refugee coordinator; its resettlement plan involves 12 provincial ministries and a number of community agencies. It is a year-long process, Sigurdson said.

Sigurdson said $1 million of the money is being redirected from existing spending to a fund that was already set up for those fleeing Syria.

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Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said she will be asking the federal government for another $5 million to help cover costs for one year as Syrian families begin their new lives in Alberta.

READ MORE: How Alberta is preparing for up to 3,000 refugees

Hoffman said the first wave of refugees will be supported by private sponsors, but she expects the federal government to step up to help cover costs of housing.

The province said the initial screening of refugees will include an examination of what skills they have so that they can be better matched with agencies in order to find employment opportunities.

READ MORE: Here’s now refugees are screened before arriving in Canada

The province is also working collaboratively with federal, provincial, municipal and community partners to understand community capacity and address concerns.

The federal government extended its deadline to resettle 25,000 refugees to Canada until the end of February 2016.

With files from The Canadian Press