OTTAWA—The planned announcement today of how Canada will take in thousands of Syrian refugees will drive ongoing local, national, and international efforts into high gear—a program that will extend far beyond the Liberals’ self-imposed end-of-year deadline.
Syrians steadily have been arriving in Canada for months and some of them will count against the Liberal promise to resettle 25,000 people by Dec. 31—a milestone the government is expected to say today that it is unlikely to meet.
But what many are watching for alongside that is how the mass influx will be handled and who is going to pay for it.
On top of the logistical costs of getting that many people into Canada are the millions more it is going to require to look after their housing, health, education, and integration requirements.
“Canadians are going to want to help and cost might not be at the top of their list of considerations, but it should be on the list,” said Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who was in Ottawa yesterday to meet the other premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We’ll have to do some planning for that and we hope the federal government will be generous,” he added.
The costs are not entirely unknown; the Immigration department tells private sponsors, for example, that it would cost a minimum of about $20,000 just to cover basic needs for one person for 12 months.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said his government already has set aside funds for 3,600 people and said if the province is expected to take in a larger number, more money will be required.
“The federal government has indicated the money is there,” he noted.
Later yesterday, following a working dinner meeting with Trudeau, Couillard said concerns raised by premiers about funding for refugee settlement and the thoroughness of security screening to be done for all refugees had been allayed.
“There will be no compromises made about the safety of Canadians,” he stressed.
“In terms of financing, funding, we’re very pleased with the way things are panning out.”
Unveiling of the plan will be the latest step in weeks of nearly around-the-clock work by Canadian officials that began even before the Liberals took office earlier this month.