11/25/2015

Yesterday, the federal government released its plan to resettle 25,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict.

The government will identify all 25,000 refugees who will come to Canada by December 31, 2015. The target is to have 10,000 refugees arrive by the end of 2015 with the remainder arriving by the end of February 2016. The government will invest up to $678 million over six years towards resettlement and integration support. The goal is to have relatively even distribution of refugees across Canada. While the destination communities are not yet confirmed, the Province is asking the public to identify available housing in Hamilton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, and Windsor.

For its part, the provincial government has established a Ministers’ Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees in order to coordinate support for the federal government’s plans for resettlement. The committee is co-chaired by the Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, and the Honourable Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. The Province has indicated that it will provide $10.5 million over two years to promote refugee sponsorship and deliver immediate and future support for refugees.

AMO is supportive of the resettlement efforts and stands ready to assist with communicating the federal and provincial plans to our membership. Many municipal councils across the province are already in various states of planning for the reception of refugees. Municipal governments and District Social Service Administration Boards (DSSABs) can play a role to ensure that their services are accessible to refugees (i.e. childcare, housing, public health). Coordination and planning will be required with the other two orders of government in order to make this a successful resettlement effort. An assessment will also be needed to gauge the potential fiscal impact to municipal governments and DSSABs and the ensuing discussion with the provincial government on the assistance needed to meet these costs. More information is expected from the federal and provincial governments on the municipal role in the days ahead.

AMO will continue to play a leadership role as our members stand ready to assist refugees in any way they can. AMO will be working closely with municipal staff associations, including the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA) and the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA), on planning for the successful settlement of refugees.

AMO will monitor developments and provide further information to members when it becomes available