Immigrant and refugee serving agencies across Canada are ramping up contingency plans to respond to the largest refugee resettlement relocation movement in thirty five years.

November 5, 2015

VANCOUVER, BC – “As we welcome the appointment of Honourable John McCallum as Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, preparations have begun in refugee reception centres across Canada in response to the Government of Canada’s Syrian refugee resettlement plan. We are now on stand-by putting in place significantly enhanced reception services to welcome an expedited increase of Syrian refugees – the full range of settlement supports services and expertise as we have undertaken in previous large refugee resettlement relocation movements,” says Chris Friesen, Chair of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance- Alliance canadienne du secteur de l’établissement des immigrants (CISSA-ACSEI).

While awaiting the timeframe and clarity on the multi-pronged approach necessary to undertake this bold refugee resettlement humanitarian goal CISSA-ACSEI member agencies are actively involved in various refugee readiness related activities across the country including such things as:

  • working with city staff in some parts of the country to explore the activation of emergency reception and housing procedures;
  • putting in place regional refugee readiness planning sessions to develop coordinated response systems with key actors including school superintendents, health authorities, city governments, housing authorities;
  • arranging an in-person meeting in Toronto Nov 28-29 with representatives of refugee reception centres and sponsorship agreement holders across Canada to assess current capacity in key areas — long term housing needs, language class and daycare wait-lists, communication mechanisms, etc;
  •  issuing public calls for action and help with longer term housing needs, volunteers and free limited services from dentists, registered clinical counsellors, private sponsorship, etc;
  • putting in place on going public education events on refugees and their settlement process to garnish ways that the public can be actively involved;
  •  setting up communication structures eg. telephone help lines, designated websites and systems that will ensure enhanced local and regional coordination on the ground as well as across Canada; and,
  • beginning recruitment for a variety of additional staffing resources.

We fully understand and appreciate that Canadians want us, as a country, to do more to help respond to this growing refugee crisis through immediate resettlement. CISSA-ACSEI and its member agencies stand by to fully support and share our expertise and insights to assist Minister McCallum and his cabinet colleagues who will be critically important in addressing this possibly unprecedented mass refugee relocation movement in Canadian history. We welcome the opportunity to support future Syrian government assisted refugees. We have no doubt that with their determination, skills and resilience that Syrian refugees who for no fault of their own have had to flee their homes and will like other refugees before them contribute immensely to their new country. We, working with the Canadian public, will ensure that these refugee newcomers will have the best possible start in this country.

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