The government has failed Syrian refugees in Canada by not providing them access to specialized trauma counsellors, according to an immigration advocate.
Director of settlement services with the Immigrant Services Society of B.C., Chris Friesen, says 15 per cent of refugees are struggling with trauma-related depression.
As many refugees marked their one year anniversary of their arrival here in B.C. this weekend, Friesen says more needs to be done to help them settle.
“It is a failure in the sense that because refugees are chosen for humanitarian immigration on the basis of their vulnerabilities and need for protection, this is one area that we could do a lot more.”
Friesen says more mental health support is crucial, in many aspects.
“For untreated trauma, that impacts their ability to learn, to be in school, to learn English. It affects their ability to attach to the labour market so it really is something that we have to be much more proactive than we currently are.”
Friesen says Canada should learn from Australia, whose government offers trauma treatment to all refugees who settle there.