Around 2,700 Syrian refugees are expected to arrive in Metro Vancouver by the end of the year, part of the province’s share of the 25,000 the Liberal government has pledged to bring to Canada.
But is the region ready to accept that many new people at one time?
Chris Friesen with the Immigrant Service Society of BC says it’s taking steps to prepare.
“We have had over a thousand volunteers fill out forms, make inquiries, close to 380 housing leads.”
Friesen says many of the people coming to the Lower Mainland will be coming from urban areas in Syria, and will likely settle in the Lower Mainland.
Friesen says most of the new arrivals will require English classes once they get here.
“95% or so do not speak English and first priority will be finding permanent housing, getting the children registered in school and entering language classes to improve their language abilities.”
Friesen says the refugees are eager to arrive in Canada and continue their lives, after being in limbo, living in refugee camps for up to four years.
Surrey gears up
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner says her city is being proactive in preparing for the arrivals.
She says she’s had discussions with recently elected Liberal MPs, and made it very clear Surrey needs financial support from the feds to be able to take in refugees.
“They were going to be advocates, as well as myself for ensuring that the resources that any city needs, not just Surrey would be clearly addressed by the new government.”
Hepner says before the new arrivals come to Canada, the feds need to properly vet those who are seeking asylum, and expects stringent security checks.
“I would first of all expect the higher levels of government to make sure that we are getting the most screened and legitimate refugess through that process.”
Hepner isn’t sure exactly how many will land in Surrey, but she’s heard somewhere around 900 people coming to the city.