The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship today announced that more funding will be provided for resettlement and settlement service providers by extending current contribution agreements and providing new funding where and when it is needed.
As an essential first step, Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) service providers will receive a 25 percent increase to this year’s funding, $3.6 million, to ensure they have supports in place as soon as refugees arrive. Over the next four years, a total of $335 million will be used for settlement and resettlement services, both in Canada and abroad, in stages as Syrian refugees needs arise. Approximately $94.5 million of that money will be used to provide income support to refugees.
Settlement and resettlement service providers will play a very important role in helping Syrian refugees integrate into communities across Canada. Resettlement services are provided to refugees within the first weeks in Canada and include airport reception, assistance with customs at the port of entry, temporary accommodations and basic orientation for life in Canada. Settlement services are available to all refugees and permanent residents and include language training, help finding employment and making connections in the community. The Government of Canada has committed to bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February, and providing funding stability in the settlement and resettlement sector is an important factor in helping to face this challenge. “The settlement of refugees is the most important element of this initiative and the service providers we are extending funding to are key partners.
Canada currently spends almost $640 million each year, outside Quebec, on resettlement and settlement services. To ensure stability, the government will keep funding these services.
This means that decisions regarding the 2015 national Call for Proposals (CFP) for new contribution agreements that would have been put in place for 2016, have been put on hold. The government will return to decisions on the 2015 CFP, later in 2016-2017, once urgent needs arising from the Syrian refugee initiative have been addressed.
The Minister noted that many municipalities have expressed an interest in welcoming Syrians as part of the current initiative. Following arrival at ports of entry in Canada, Government-assisted refugees (GARs) will go to one of 36 cities across Canada where there are organizations with services specifically for refugees. There they will receive immediate and specialized support services. In subsequent weeks they will move into permanent accommodation including in surrounding communities, or elsewhere in the province where supports are available.
Minister McCallum discussed this issue with his provincial and territorial counterparts and many mayors last week. All partners recognize that they have a role to play in ensuring that key supports are in place in municipalities that want to accept refugees before any will be sent there. For example, interpreters, language training classes, and potentially specialized health services, such as counseling for those dealing with the trauma of fleeing violent conflict.
The Liberals’ goal is to re-settle 25000 Syrian refugees by the end of February. The first 10,000 are scheduled to arrive by December 31, 2015.