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Quebec immigration minister, NGOs brainstorm integration ideas for Syrian refugees

August 16, 2016

Global News  | Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said the province is on track to welcome 7,300 refugees by the end of 2016.

Between December 2015 and Aug. 1, 2016, 6,158 refugees have resettled in Quebec.

“We really need to congratulate ourselves,” Weil said.

“We are living up to our really brilliant humanitarian tradition.”

On Tuesday, the immigration minister said it’s time to move on to the next chapter: integration.

One of the major issues still facing refugees – and the organizations that provide support – is finding them meaningful employment.

“Overall integration into the work place. We need to adjust some of our rules that are just too rigid,” Weil said.

“To allow these people, whether it’s recognizing their credentials, it’s a problem for everybody, it’s a problem across the country, but this is an opportunity for us to show more flexibility to give people more work experience.”

The current unemployment rate in Quebec is 7 per cent, but the number grows to 9.7 per cent in Montreal, according provincial statistics.

The conference was a chance for all organizations who have been involved in the resettling phase to take stock and share notes from the experience.

Most at the conference, like Stephan Reichhold from the Coalition of Immigrant Service Agencies, said the mission was a success, but there is still room for improvement since Quebec expects to welcome just as many refugees in 2017.

“It was the communication issue because there were so many actors, from the reception at the airport until they’re settled in where they’re living,” Reichhold said.

He said it’s important for Quebec to maintain a high standard of services for future waves of refugees.

“[We’re] planning to receive between 6,000 and 7,000 refugees a year which is double [from previous] years,” Reichhold said.

Successful integration into Quebec will be determined partly by access to the job market.

“There’s some Syrians who are doing very well already,” Reichhold said.

“Others will have difficulties, so we have to see how training and internships and all formulas to help them.”

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