The wheels are in motion to figure out how to get 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada by the end of 2015 to fulfill Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election campaign promise.
The CBC reports that the recently sworn in Liberal government has assembled a new committee that will oversee the process of bringing the Syrian refugees to Canada. John McCallum, Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship had his first news conference since taking over the portfolio where he reaffirmed the Liberal government’s commitment to bringing 25,000 refugees to Canada by years end.
“Canadians can and must do more to help Syrian refugees who are desperately seeking safety. The new cabinet ad hoc committee is our first step towards Canada providing more Syrian refugees with the safe haven they so desperately need. This is about showing leadership and doing what is right as Canadians.”
However, many details remain up in the air, including how Syrian refugees will be brought to Canada, where they will be transported from, who will be involved, and where the refugees will stay.
According to Vice, in order to bring the number of refugees Canada has promised to resettle, they would have to start transporting 3,300 refugees per week. But as of yet, there are no firm plans on how or when that will happen.
“Every option is on the table. Whatever works, whatever is cost effective, whatever will get them here safely and quickly. So yes, we’re looking at the possibility of commercial airlines. We’re looking at the possibility of the Air Force. We’re looking at the possibility of ships. All of these things are being considered as we speak, and all will be used to the extent that they are needed to get the job done.”
McCallum also noted that no Syrian refugees have been transferred yet, and he didn’t give a specific date for this to begin, or have figures on how many would come in the initial move. But, he did say the process would start within the next few weeks.
The Toronto Star is reporting that Canadian air carrier Air Canada contacted the new Liberal government to offer its services prior to the busy Christmas season to help airlift Syrian refugees back to Canada.
As far as accommodations, the idea of using army bases in Canada in the short term has been brought up. And, McCallum has said that the Canadian military will be playing a large role in this operation.
According to the Vancouver Sun, in British Columbia, where they are expecting to receive around 2,700 Syrian refugees (or 12 percent of the total, although no numbers are confirmed yet), the city of Vancouver is starting to gear up for the influx. They are even looking at initiating the city’s “emergency housing protocols,” which would open up buildings like gymnasiums for cots. Immigrant Services Society of B.C. is seeking out hotel rooms with kitchenettes as well as asking churches and residents to open their doors to Syrian refugees.
The previous Conservative government dragged their feet when it came to opening Canada’s doors to refugees citing security concerns. McCallum insists that security concerns are important and will be dealt with.
And then there is the cost. As the CBC reports, the government says they will be sticking to its campaign promise of giving $100 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees immediately, while investing another $100 million for the transportation and resettlement of Syrian refugees in Canada.
The costs will most likely split up between several Federal government ministries which is reflected in the nine members of committee overseeing the goal of bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.
[Feature image by Philipp Guelland/Getty Images]