Iraqi refugees fared worse than others in first three years: internal study

Lars Hagberg / File / The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Thousands of Iraqi refugees brought to Canada earned less money and found fewer jobs than refugees from elsewhere who arrived during the same period.

That was one finding of a internal government case study into the 2009 to 2014 Iraqi resettlement program, the largest of its kind prior to the Syrian initiative the Liberals launched last year.

The study found that Iraqis faced several barriers to integration, including the trauma of the war in their home country, more serious medical needs and a lack of English and French.

Settlement agencies also told researchers they were overwhelmed by the fact so many Iraqis arrived at the same time and it took longer than expected to provide the support they needed.

Agencies had a similar issue last fall when efforts began to resettle 25,000 Syrians in a matter of months; academics say the outcome from the Iraqi program could offer a glimpse into what Syrians are facing.

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The Immigration Department says they did use some of the lessons learned from the Iraqi experience when resettling the Syrians, but the compressed timeline of the latter program made it hard to apply them all.

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