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Government-assisted refugee arrivals paused in more Canadian cities

January 20, 2016

By Susana Mas, CBC News |

Resettlement agencies in two more Canadian cities have asked the federal government to slow down the arrival of government-assisted refugees as the groups struggle to find permanent housing to lodge Syrian families, says the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

The latest hiccup in the government’s plan to resettle 25,000 refugees — a mix of privately sponsored and government-assisted refugees — by March 1 comes as 11,613 Syrian refugees have already arrived in Canada since Nov. 4 when the Liberals were sworn into power.

Federal officials say groups in Toronto and Halifax have joined agencies in Ottawa and Vancouver in their request to decelerate the pace at which government-assisted refugees are arriving in their communities.

Immigration Minister John McCallum, who took part in a question-and-answer session with the Canadian Club of Toronto on Wednesday, said afterward the requests are coming directly from resettlement agencies, not city officials.

“They are finding that they need a little [more] time to hire more people,” McCallum said in Toronto Wednesday morning. “My officials are helping them with that process, and they also need a little more time to find medium-term housing.”

McCallum called the temporary measure a “short-term diversion” while the government helps ease the strain felt by some of the resettlement groups.

The temporary accommodation does not apply to Syrian refugees who are privately sponsored by Canadians.

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