#WelcomeRefugees: The first 25,000 – Phase 5

Settlement and community integration


Nov. 9, 2015: New committee to help bring refugees to Canada

A new Cabinet Ad Hoc Committee with nine Cabinet ministers was created to help bring Syrian refugees to Canada. This committee will be a driving force in delivering on the government’s commitment to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada.

Nov. 17, 2015: UNHCR sends texts to refugees about coming to Canada

The UN Refugee Agency sent the first SMS text messages to registered Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon to determine which refugees are interested in coming to Canada. In Turkey, the Government of Turkey will communicate with and register refugees for resettlement in Canada.

Nov. 24, 2015: #WelcomeRefugees

The Government of Canada announces its five-phase plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada. It is intended to provide rapid protection for vulnerable Syrian refugees while continuing to protect the health and safety of Canadians. The Government of Canada will work with Canadians, including private sponsors, non-governmental organizations, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees.

Nov. 28, 2015: Operation Provision

A Canadian Armed Forces CC-177 Globemaster III aircraft departed Trenton (Ontario) with equipment and personnel as part of OP PROVISION, the CAF’s support to the Government of Canada’s #WelcomeRefugees effort to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada

Nov. 29, 2015: Canadian communities #WelcomeRefugees

The first list of communities welcoming privately-sponsored Syrian refugees is released. We anticipate more communities will get involved in supporting the settlement and integration of these refugees. These refugees will go to communities large and small across the country where their sponsors are located.

Nov. 29, 2015: Ministers meet with Syrian refugees in Jordan

The Ministers of Health, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship and National Defense visited Jordan to experience first-hand the situation on the ground, as the Government of Canada implements its commitment to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada.

Dec. 1, 2015: Governor General hosts forum on welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada

The Governor General delivered the opening speech which was followed by panel discussions with key players involved in supporting the settlement and integration process of Syrian refugees to their new home country.

Image: His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D., Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada. Photo credit: Sgt Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall © Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada represented by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (2010)

Dec. 1, 2015: Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers meet to reaffirm support and ongoing collaboration for Syrian refugee resettlement

Ministers reiterated the integral role of provinces and territories in warmly welcoming the refugees in their communities. They discussed issues related to where in Canada Syrian refugees will go and the types of support that communities should have in place to be prepared to accept them.

Dec. 9, 2015: Airport Receiving areas and Welcome Centres

New receiving areas for Syrian refugees at ports-of-entry at Toronto Pearson International Airport, and Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport are being temporarily put in place and will be operational until the end of February 2016. This will make processing at the airport as efficient and comfortable as possible for refugees who have made a long journey to their new home in Canada.

Dec. 10, 2015: The first flight of privately-sponsored Syrian refugees arrives in Canada

A Royal Canadian Air Force CC-150 Polaris aircraft with 163 Syrian refugees lands in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Upon arrival, the refugees are welcomed and undergo the final steps for admission to Canada border services officers.

Dec. 11, 2015: CN pledges $5 million to assist Syrian refugees resettling in Canada

Accompanied by the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, CN announced a  $5 million donation to assist communities with the resettlement of Syrian refugees across Canada.

"Canada’s business community has always been ready to aid those in need. We encourage other Canadian businesses to join CN in support of refugees looking for a better life."

Luc Jobin, executive vice president and chief financial officer of CN.

Dec. 12, 2015: 161 Syrian refugees landed in Montreal

On December 12, 2015, 161 Syrian refugees landed in Montreal on a Government of Canada flight. They are all privately sponsored which means they have a community waiting to welcome them.

"We have worked diligently to ensure we are prepared to efficiently welcome and process Syrian refugees upon landing. When our new arrivals leave the airport, they will do so as permanent residents - a significant step in their Canadian journey."

Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Canada

Dec. 15, 2015: First chartered flight lands in Canada

A chartered flight bringing Syrian refugees to Canada has departed from Beirut this morning with a layover in Jordan. The flight is expected to land in Toronto today mid-afternoon and to have on board approximately 214 Syrian refugees. They will be a mix of privately sponsored (PSR), government-assisted (GAR) and Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Syrian refugees.

Dec. 18, 2015: Minister McCallum visits Lebanon and Jordan for on-the-ground update of the #WelcomeRefugees initiative

Today, the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, started a trip to the middle east processing centres in Lebanon and Jordan.

The visit will include a tour of the Canadian Operations Centres, which will include a walk-through of processing—from biometric collection, to medicals, to immigration interviews. The Minister will have the opportunity to speak with refugees and various partner organizations supporting the national project to resettle Syrian refugees to Canada.

Dec. 18, 2015: Governor General greets refugees at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport

On December 18, 2015, Governor General David Johnston and members of his family welcomed a group of Syrian refugees at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

"Canada’s history is full of stories of diverse people helping each other through hard times, and I’m delighted to offer a warm welcome to these newest members of our Canadian family. I wish them every success."

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada

Dec. 31, 2015: Minister McCallum gives an update on the #WelcomeRefugees initiative at the Pearson International Airport

"I’m proud of the hard work that has been done quickly to resettle as many Syrian refugees as possible to Canada. We have processed more than 10,000 Syrian refugees, and 6,064 will have arrived. We will continue to work hard to bring in the remainder to Canada as quickly as possible. We also met our commitment to identify all 25,000 Syrian refugees to come to Canada as part of the #WelcomeRefugees initiative."

Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Jan. 12, 2016: Canada has welcomed its first 10,000 Syrian refugees

Canada has now welcomed more than 10,000 Syrian refugees to our country as part of the #WelcomeRefugees initiative, bringing us closer to our goal of welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February 2016.

“Many people have worked day and night to bring these refugees to Canada – and Canadians have opened their communities and their hearts to welcome them. Canada continues to set an international example with its response to the worst refugee crisis of our time.”

Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Jan. 26, 2016: Canada announces the Syrian Family Links initiative: Bringing Syrian refugees and sponsors together

Today, Syrian Family Links was launched to help connect Syrian refugees abroad with private Canadian sponsors through the help of the refugee’s family in Canada.

Through this initiative, Syrians in Canada can identify family members who are refugees in Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey and help link them with local sponsorship groups in Canada who are seeking someone to sponsor.

Read the news release

Feb. 5, 2016: Communities across Canada invited to apply to show how they can welcome and support Government-Assisted Refugees

In response to the Government of Canada’s commitment to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees, many municipalities have expressed an interest in welcoming Government-Assisted Refugees, and integrating them into their communities. Communities are being invited to develop a Community Partnership Settlement Plan, which prepares them to welcome refugees.

Read the news release

Feb. 5, 2016: City of Victoria named as new destination community under the Resettlement Assistance Program

Minister McCallum announced the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria as the first successful applicant under the recent call for proposals to identify new Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) providers across Canada.

The City of Victoria will now join 23 other RAP communities across Canada, outside Quebec, offering comprehensive and expanded services to refugees.

Read the news release

Feb. 8, 2016: Sydney, Nova Scotia on track to welcome Syrian refugees

The community of Sydney has come forward as an early adopter of a process that was formally announced last week. The Government of Canada has been working with provinces and territories to establish criteria for communities wishing to become welcoming communities for government-assisted refugees (GARs).

Read the news release

Feb. 27, 2016: Canada welcomes 25,000 Syrian refugees

“We have reached a significant milestone, but the work continues as we begin to integrate Syrian refugees into our communities. Canadians from coast to coast to coast will have a hand in welcoming, integrating and contributing to the success of our newest community members.”

Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Feb. 29, 2016: Last government-organized flight arrives in Toronto

“Welcoming 25,000 refugees in such a short period of time is a shining example of the welcoming spirit of Canadians who have taken on this initiative with open arms and open hearts. Throughout the country, we have seen communities – large and small – embrace newcomers as only Canadians could. This is making a tangible difference in the lives of so many.”

Hon. Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions and Member, Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees

Syrian refugees were transported to communities across Canada, where they are now building new lives for themselves and their families. This phase of our work continues.

Syrians being resettled to Canada are processed as either Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) or Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs).

GARs receive income support from the Government of Canada. This includes a one-time start-up payment to help them set up a household in Canada. It also includes monthly income support to help them get through their first year in Canada.

This support covers items such as clothing, food, shelter and basic household needs, like household goods, linen and furniture.

The amount of monthly financial support GARs get varies by family size and is generally similar to provincial social assistance rates in the province where the refugee lives.

GARs usually get income support for up to one year after they arrive, or until they can support themselves—whichever comes first.

Settlement and resettlement service providers play a very important role in helping Syrian refugees integrate into communities across Canada. They provide resettlement services within the first weeks in Canada. This includes meeting them at the airport, help with customs at the port of entry, temporary housing and basic orientation for life in Canada.

All refugees and permanent residents have access to settlement services. These include language training, help finding jobs and making connections in the community.

Refugees arriving in Quebec get similar support, but the province provides it.

PSRs are supported by sponsors who agree to provide them with care, lodging, settlement assistance and social support. Normally, a private sponsor supports a refugee for 12 months, starting from the day the refugees arrive in Canada or until they can support themselves, whichever comes first.

All refugees also have access to settlement services funded by IRCC. These include:

  • language classes
  • employment services such as help finding jobs
  • professional mentorship programs and
  • workshops that focus on how to build a successful life in Canada and become part of Canadian society.

Phase 5 is an ongoing effort between all partners to ensure the refugees settle successfully in Canada.

Learn which communities and service provider organizations across Canada are welcoming refugees.

Security and health screening

Each Syrian refugee went through robust, multi-layered screening before they came to Canada. This included collecting biometrics.

Find out more about security and health screening.

Former refugees share their first memories of Canada

Twelve former refugees share their stories and advice for Syrian refugees.

Find out where the refugees are going

Learn which communities and service provider organizations across Canada are welcoming refugees.

Canada's Humanitarian Tradition: Vanig

With little safety, and destruction everywhere, Vanig and his family fled Syria for Canada.

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