Syrian refugee housing numbers improving, next step is finding jobs: McCallum

Progress has been made on finding housing for Syrian refugees and the next big challenge is getting them a job, Immigration Minister John McCallum said Wednesday.

MONTREAL — Progress has been made on finding housing for Syrian refugees and the next big challenge is getting them a job, Immigration Minister John McCallum said Wednesday.

Recent figures suggest 69 per cent of the refugees outside Quebec have found permanent accommodation, up from 52 per cent a few weeks ago, he said.

“When you have huge numbers of refugees coming in at the same time, you never solve the problem overnight,” McCallum noted.

“There are always hiccups and bumps along the road, but I think the speed with which the housing issue has been addressed augurs well.”

The numbers don’t include those from Quebec, which has its own program and where housing hasn’t created the same dilemmas as in the rest of the country.

McCallum says the problem was most pronounced in larger cities like Vancouver and Toronto, where 50 per cent of refugees have now found homes, up from 30 per cent a few weeks ago.

The immigration minister says most should be housed by the end of April and the rest by the end of June.

The Trudeau government met its initial goal of accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees at the end of February.

Finding jobs for refugees becomes the next priority and McCallum is speaking this week with industry representatives in Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

Government-sponsored refugees don’t often have a lot of education, but McCallum is confident refugees will be able to find work after getting some language education.

“I know there are many companies keen to employ these individuals and I know there are many industries in Canada with relatively low-skilled labour that have had chronic problems filling those jobs,” McCallum said.

He was speaking at the Foundation of Greater Montreal’s announcement of $750,000 worth of aid to local groups sponsoring Syrian refugees.

Community Foundations of Canada announced it had given the money to the Montreal group from the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees — seeded by Manulife Financial in December.

Canadian National Railway is donating $5 million, and General Motors putting in money also.

The Foundation of Greater Montreal says the money will be doled out by the Red Cross and Pascal Mathieu of the aid agency said it has already started talking with different sponsorship groups to see what they need.

Greater Montreal has the largest Syrian population in the country, so 95 per cent of refugees here are sponsored by family, while 80 per cent in the rest of the country are state-sponsored.

Between January 2015 and March 2016, the Montreal area welcomed 4,411 of the 5,326 Syrian refugees in Quebec. Another 4,250 sponsorship applications in the province have been accepted and are awaiting federal approval.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Heather Buelow, owner of Aerial Edge Studio in Blackfalds, says she has spent ‘all of my saving keeping the studio going’ through government-mandated shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Either open in-person or close permanently: Central Alberta yoga studio defying rules

A central Alberta woman is allowing clients back into her yoga and… Continue reading

(MaxPixel)
Sandra Schmirler Foundation donates $10,000 to Red Deer hospital

Donation will go towards electronic fetal heart monitoring project

A sustainability audit for Westerner Park suggested 33 changes, including more city involvement. (Advocate file photo)
Westerner Park expands volunteer program

As Westerner Park refocuses the organization, they are reigniting their emphasis on… Continue reading

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Madelyn Boyko poses along with a number of the bath bombs she makes with her mom, Jessica Boyko. Madelyn says she enjoys making the bath bombs with her mom as it is a special time for just the two of them. (Photo Submitted)
5-year-old Sylvan Lake girl selling bath bombs in support of younger brother

Madelyn Boyko is selling bath bombs for CdLS research in honour of her younger brother

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on December 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle
New regulator to stop sexual exploitation of children online: public safety minister

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the government will introduce… Continue reading

Gordon Greenwood Elementary Grade 7 students were assigned to write about climate change. The Langley Advance Times is pleased to present a selection of their writings. (Sasha/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

OTTAWA — A new report shows Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he will vote against a… Continue reading

Eugene Kwon of Gratia Bakery and Cafe says the business will be relying on take out orders and a small patio. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

OTTAWA — A group representing thousands of the country’s small businesses says… Continue reading

Ron Howard is photographed at the "Inferno" film premiere on Oct. 25, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Buckner/Rex Shutterstock/Zuma Press/TNS)
Brothers Ron and Clint Howard have memoir coming in October

NEW YORK — Filmmaker-actor Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard, brothers, former… Continue reading

FILE - In this Saturday, March 27, 2021 file photo, Buffalo Sabres’ Taylor Hall plays against the Boston Bruins during the second period of an NHL hockey game, in Boston. The Buffalo Sabres could trade 2018 MVP Hall, who signed for just this season and is a pending free agent. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
Boston Bruins acquire Taylor Hall to kick off NHL trade deadline day

Trade deadline day in the NHL has started with the Boston Bruins… Continue reading

Most Read