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Feds can’t dump care of Syrian refugees onto provinces: Senate committee

Click to play video 'Senate committee reflects on Syrian refugee status, one year later' Senate committee reflects on Syrian refugee status, one year later
WATCH ABOVE: Senate committee reflects on Syrian refugee status, one year later – Dec 6, 2016

OTTAWA – The Senate human rights committee is joining a chorus of voices raising concerns about thousands of Syrian refugees about to be shifted onto provincial assistance rolls.

Committee chairman Sen. Jim Munson says the federal government has an ongoing responsibility to ensure that language training is provided so that 30,000 Syrians welcomed to Canada in the last year can successfully join the work force and society.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia will hire Arabic-speaking welfare case worker to help refugees

Federally sponsored refugees are given a year’s worth of supplementary benefits, but that assistance is about to expire and many thousands of the new arrivals still require help – which will fall to provincially funded programs.

WATCH: Senator fights back tears as he reflects on Syrian refugee experience 

Click to play video 'Senator fights back tears as he reflects on Syrian refugee experience' Senator fights back tears as he reflects on Syrian refugee experience
Senator fights back tears as he reflects on Syrian refugee experience – Dec 6, 2016

The Senate committee is recommending that additional language training be complemented by day care so that Syrian parents can participate.

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The senators are also concerned about mental health provisions for war-torn Syria’s refugees, many of whom suffer from post traumatic stress compounded by isolation in a new country.

READ MORE: Calgary kids give warm winter welcome to young refugees

Click to play video 'Calgary kids brighten up the holiday season for young refugees' Calgary kids brighten up the holiday season for young refugees
Calgary kids brighten up the holiday season for young refugees – Dec 1, 2016

Sen. Thanh Hai Ngo, who arrived in Canada as a Vietnamese refugee in 1975, said the overwhelming response the committee heard from Syrians is their desire to work and contribute to society – and that learning one of Canada’s official languages is the key.

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