Subject: GAR Bulletin--Special Edition: Syrian Refugee Report #2

November 16,2015
In an effort to ensure information about Canada's response to the Syrian refugee crisis is provided in a timely manner, ISSofBC will be distributing periodic special-edition GAR Bulletins. The intention of these reports is to ensure groups providing support to refugees in British Columbia receive up-to-date information to facilitate planning and coordination.
Information for this bulletin was collated from:
  • a conference call among refugee serving agencies across Canada November 13 with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada on the current response and potential future directions.
Conference Call

Deborah Tunis – Syrian Refugee Coordinator, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada

  • Although the exact timing is uncertain, it is anticipated the Government’s plans will be outlined in a formal announcement during the week of November 16, 2015;
  • The Government Operations Centre (GOC) is providing assistance and oversight with this unprecedented humanitarian operation, ensuring consideration to all aspects from identifying refugees through settlement services. They are currently working on developing a strategic plan which will be in place before the announcement is made;
  • A detailed engagement strategy is being developed, and both Minister McCallum and his office, as well as Prime Minister Trudeau are continuing to connect with people across the country;
  • There are plans for an invitation-only working meeting to be held November 28 and 29 in Toronto to develop detailed implementation plan;
  • Prime Minster Trudeau and Minister McCallum have spoken of a Summit to be held – likely before Parliament returns in December – involving Provincial and Municipal elected officials;
  • Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada has heard ‘loud and clear’ that the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) and settlement providers across the country are ‘ready and able to take on this challenge’ but that current funding is inadequate to meet the anticipated demand. The proposal before Cabinet includes additional monies for (re)settlement support;
  • There is a desire to ensure the commitment and support from private sponsors continues;
  • Syrian refugees landed before the end of the year will be a mixture of Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) and Government Assisted Refugees (GARs);
  • Plans being formulated are according to a five phase process: (1) Identification of Refugees (eg through discussions with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), etc), (2) Oversees Processing (may be a light touch), (3) Transportation to Canada, (4) Processing in Canada (eg determining how much of the information will be gathered in Canada as opposed to overseas), and (5) Resettlement, Settlement and Integration;
  • The amount of processing done overseas will influence whether these individuals arrive as Permanent Residents (all information processed overseas) or Temporary Residents (information collected both overseas and in Canada). If Temporary Residents – information will be processed ASAP (likely within hours of arrival) to ensure individuals are eligible for programs, etc; and
  • The first Syrian refugees to arrive under this humanitarian operation will likely be in early December, though this will not be clear until the formal announcement is made.
Metro Vancouver Planning Response
  • ISSofBC is convening on November 16 for an emergency BC and local systems meeting (Health, Education, municipal governments, YVR airport, IRC, etc) to better coordinate the immediate reception phase to the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Movement.
  • The planning session will brief participants on the most current information available about the arrival of Syrian refugees, regionally and federally; and
  • Provide opportunities to surface key questions and approaches in preparation for arrival and immediate reception support; and create opportunities for regional collaboration and local stewardship of solutions.
BC Response
  • Under AMSSA leadership ISSofBC will be assisting to convene a provincial wide settlement sector summit to map out current capacity issues (eg Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) wait-lists, case management wait-list, etc) in communities throughout BC that are likely to receive Syrian refugees in order to advise the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on the necessity of targeted additional settlement program investments.
ISSofBC Update
  • ISSofBC staff have launched a public call for action November 10 to help in locating permanent housing options, volunteers, employment leads and financial contributions for the expected arrival of 3,000 Syrian refugees to BC. More information can be found at
  • ISSofBC will be briefing the BC settlement sector on our current preparations on a province wide conference call on November 18
  • ISSofBC is holding a national conference call with all resettlement assistance service providers across Canada on November 20
  • ISSofBC is actively involved as well as refugee service hubs across Canada in organizing a two day national Syrian working group meeting in Toronto over the November 28-29 weekend to help design post reception phase of the Syrian refugee relocation movement.

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Immigrant Services Society of BC, 2610 Victoria Drive, Vancouver, BC V5N 4L2, Canada
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