Federal government to accept more refugees

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

While short in 2015, Liberal party doubles target of refugee intake

By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor

Mid-December saw the first of thousands of Syrian refugees enter Canada as new permanent residents, many of whom were greeted by Prime Minister Trudeau himself. The first families to arrive were privately sponsored.

On December 21, John McCallum, the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, announced that Canada is expecting to have taken in between 35,000–50,000 refugees by the end of 2016. The number could potentially double the original government goal of 25,000. It has not been said yet how many of the increased number of refugees will be government and privately sponsored.

While falling short of their goal to intake 10,000 refugees by the end of the year, over 6,000 refugees have arrived in Canada, with the next 4,000 expected to arrive in the next two weeks and the remaining 15,000 of the original 25,000 target still expected to arrive by the end of February. The process is speculated to have been slowed as a result of the attacks that took place in Paris in November, as an effort to reassure Canadians that proper security screenings are taking place. Other reasons for the delay include more extensive medical screenings, more time to organize the departure for approved families, airport capacity, and diplomacy concerns.

Even with a slowed process, the overall goals of the intake have not changed. One of the new families includes the family of Alan Kurdi, the boy whose body washed ashore on a beach after a dangerous escape out of Syria.

“We almost lost hope, but thank you to the Canadian government and the Canadian people who made it happen,” Mohammed Kurdi said to the Globe and Mail upon the family’s arrival on December 28, as translated by his sister from Coquitlam.

The Kurdi family, along with the other new families to arrive, have received an outpouring of support from Canadians, with many donating time, money, and resources to help the families resettle.

“I’ve said many times this is not a government project, this is a national project,” McCallum said to CTV. “I’m hoping that more and more people will do that so the refugees and soon-to-be Canadians will get a super warm Canadian welcome.”

In a New Years address to Canadians, Governor General David Johnston said: “Let’s continue to demonstrate to the world what a smart and caring nation can look like in the 21st century.”