Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday December 7, 2016
‘We can’t abandon them’: Senators urge more language, mental health supports for Syrian refugees
One year after the first wave of Syrian refugees arrived in Canada, the Senate’s committee on human rights is urging the federal government to boost language training, mental health services and financial supports to ease the next phase of the resettlement process
Releasing a report called “Finding Refuge in Canada: A Syrian Resettlement Story,” committee chair Jim Munson said while the program has been a Canadian success story, the government and citizens must not be complacent.
“We can’t abandon them. We can’t let indifference set in. We need to do more to help them in their next resettlement steps,” he said during a news conference in Ottawa Tuesday.
In the last year, Canada has brought in more than 35,000 government-assisted and privately sponsored refugees fleeing conflict and violence in the region.
After the one-year mark, the federal government’s monthly living allowance ends for many families, which means they must support themselves or rely on provincial social assistance.
Senator Thanh Hai Ngo said it’s not fair to simply transfer the financial burden on the provinces.
“That’s not right. If you help them, you help them to the end. You don’t leave them in the middle of the street and say, ‘OK, that’s it I’ve done my job,'” he said.
According to information provided by Dawn Edlund, IRCC’s associate assistant deputy minister of operations, about 12 per cent of government-sponsored Syrian refugees have a job, while more than half of privately sponsored refugees have work.
Edlund acknowledged there have been challenges in addressing language training needs, but said approximately 87 per cent of eligible Syrian adults outside of Quebec had been assessed as of the end of August and 64 per cent had enrolled in language training at that time.
After additional funding was provided in June, preliminary figures show 95 per cent of government-assisted refugees are enrolled in some kind of language training, compared to 79 per cent of privately sponsored refugees. (Source: CBC)