Canada to miss refugee resettlement target
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, December 31, 2015 11:23AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 31, 2015 11:20PM EST
By the end of the year, just over 6,000 Syrian refugees will have landed in Canada, the immigration minister said Thursday, noting that the government will need another two weeks to meet its previously-set target to settle 10,000 refugees.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum announced the latest numbers in Toronto on Thursday morning, stressing that Canadians should be proud of the humanitarian resettlement effort so far.
The Liberal government was aiming to settle 10,000 refugees in the country by Dec. 31, but McCallum said he now expects to meet that goal by mid-January. He also said that, by the end of the business day Thursday, 10,700 refugees will have been fully processed and screened to come to Canada.
The government still expects to settle an additional 15,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February, McCallum added, for a total of 25,000 since the Liberals took office.
Ahead of the October election, the Liberals had campaigned on a promise to settle 25,000 refugees by year’s end. On Thursday, the minister stressed that 25,000 refugees have already been identified to come to Canada.
When asked how he would explain missing the initial resettlement targets to Canadians, the minister said the government remains focused on resettling refugees properly.
"What I tell Canadians is that it is better to do it well and fast, but doing it well is the highest priority," McCallum said. "So I think we can be proud of our achievements."
He also noted that it was up to Canadians to decide whether a two-week delay is a "matter of utmost importance," or whether they will focus instead on welcoming them.
Health Minister Jane Philpott, who was also at the Toronto news conference, added that most Canadians will be focusing on what has been accomplished, rather than what has been missed.
"Today is a day to celebrate,” she said. “Today is a day to say welcome to the many thousands of refugees that have arrived at our doorstep, here in Canada, over the last number of weeks, and the thousands more to arrive in the weeks to come.”
The government has also said that it will bring at least another 10,000 government-sponsored refugees to Canada by the end of 2016.
With files from The Canadian Press