January 17, 2017 – Canada’s federal government achieved its target of sponsoring 25,000 Syrian refugees to come into the country by the end of 2016.
A significant increase in numbers during December saw the government reach the target, bringing the total number of Syrian refugees welcomed into the country since November 2015 to 39,271.
The government target is not to be confused with the initial surge to bring in 25,000 refugees by February 2016, as these were a combination of government, blended and privately sponsored candidates.
Syrian Refugees Entering Canada Since November 2015
|Blended Visa Office-Referred||3,923|
Source: Government of Canada
The federal government had its own target of sponsoring 25,000 by the end of 2016, and it achieved this in combination with the blended category, who are part-government and part-privately sponsored.
Immigration officials put the end-of-year surge down to the resolution of several complex cases which needed extra processing time.
As the year ended, the rate of arrival rose to more then 130 per day, having dropped to as low as 11 in the summer following the initial surge to February.
The overall process of welcoming and integrating such a wave of refugees has not been without its problems and challenges.
The government recently announced it will limit the number of private sponsorship refugee applications it receives for Syrians and Iraqis to 1,000 in 2017, as it looks to clear the backlog already in the system.
This figure applies to applications only – an allocation of 25,000 resettled refugees is included in the 2017 immigration plan.
The move comes following complaints from private sponsors with applications already in the system and families ready to move, that they have been left waiting for months and years for the paperwork to be processed.
Once the backlog is cleared, the target processing time will be 12 months.
As the anniversary of the arrival of the first Syrians to Canada went by in December 2016, the early newcomers without jobs began claiming via provincial social benefits channels instead of refugee-specific funds.
The reality is setting in concerning the difficulties of integrating into a new life and, most importantly, entering the workforce.
The government admitted in October that the number of Syrian refugee children arriving in the last year came as a surprise.
McCallum said the large number of children ‘was not completely anticipated’, with schools especially struggling to cope with the influx of new students.
Teachers in New Brunswick were overwhelmed by the sudden influx of Syrian refugee students in early 2016, leading to chaos in some classrooms, according to a report.
Schools were not prepared for new students who hadn’t been educated regularly for years, did not speak English and came from war-torn areas of the Middle East.
The result was a whirlwind of poor behaviour, bullying and problems surrounding gender roles as teachers were left to deal with a difficult adjustment phase often without the help of translators.
School staff said they had no idea how many students would be arriving meaning preparation was impossible and all teachers could do was react to the situation as it developed.
Extra funding to hire more staff eventually alleviated the problem.
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