Last Updated on November 26, 2016
Doctors say a key element of integrating refugees into Canadian society is giving them access to healthcare.
As the figure for Syrian refugees approaches the 35,000 mark since the Liberal government came to power in October 2015, the challenge now is for those newcomers to be assisted in starting a new life here.
Experts say there is a honeymoon period when refugees first arrive, having finally escaped what for many has been desperate months and years spent struggling to survive.
Seduced by the prospect of a new start in a welcoming new country, those initial months can pass by in a flash.
Syrian Refugees Welcomed to Canada
|Blended visa office referred||3,552|
Source: Government of Canada
But soon reality sets in, and as refugees come to terms with their new lives, both physical and mental health problems can emerge.
Therefore, access to healthcare is crucial, medical experts say.
Often simply giving newcomers the entitlement to healthcare is not enough to bridge cultural and language barriers that stop them using the services made available.
Many have been through such strife that they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which can be extremely complex to treat.
The Canadian government admitted in October that the number of Syrian refugee children arriving in the last year came as a surprise.
Immigration Minister John McCallum says the large number of children ‘was not completely anticipated’, with schools especially struggling to cope with the influx of new students.
There were also issues with providing the right kind of housing for large families.
Planning issues still exist at federal and provincial level in terms of refugee numbers.
Officials in Manitoba, say they do not know exactly how many Syrians his province will be expected to take in the rest of 2016.
Teachers in New Brunswick were overwhelmed by the sudden influx of Syrian refugee students earlier this year 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.
Meanwhile, thousands of Syrian refugee families are stuck in limbo despite being matched with Canadian private sponsors ready to welcome them here.
In an article for the Toronto Star, two members of a private sponsorship group called on the government to devote resources to getting all those families matched up with sponsors into Canada on a timely basis.
Ian Urquhart and Ross McGregor say they can provide examples of families who were told back in February they would be moving in a few weeks, but are still languishing in camps or wherever they can find shelter.
“On the strength of that undertaking, they sold many of their belongings, paid to get out of their leased premises, and relocated to smaller, more expensive accommodation they could relinquish on very short notice,” Urquhart and McGregor wrote.
“Since then their security clearance process has dragged on and on, without explanation.”
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