Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to resettling 25,000 war-displaced Syrian refugees by end of year 2015 is a reiteration of Canada’s proud humanitarian tradition. In a well-defined plan encompassing five stages, the Canadian government is determined in its resolve to provide rapid protection to vulnerable Syrian refugees while continuing to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
Phase 1 involves identifying refugees coming to Canada, phase 2 is dedicated to processing, phase 3 will begin transporting the refugees, phase 4 welcomes the new arrivals to Canada, and the final phase 5 tackles the big task of settlement and integration.
The first wave of 150 Syrian refugees arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International airport on December 10. Arriving as Permanent Residents helps move the newcomers swiftly through the system. Commending the preparedness of the federal government, health minister Eric Hoskins said of the refugees: “They will receive a federal health card upon arrival at Pearson and that will entitle them to health care through the Interim Federal Health Program until such time as they transition across to OHIP coverage.”
Every detail seems to have been taken care of to make the refugees’ first day memorable in Canada. Service Canada booths will issue the vital Social Insurance numbers on the spot. The airport is equipped with adequate snacks and beverages, along with free international calling for newcomers to help them connect with their loved ones back home upon arrival. Warm clothing like hats, boots, mittens etc. will be handed out free to help the refugees cope with wintry weather conditions in Canada. A temporary children’s area has also been set up.
Long-term plans include finding employment for the newcomers as well as helping them integrate well within the Canadian society, which means giving them access to French learning opportunities once they are comfortably settled.
For more information on getting involved to help the Syrian refugees, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada website under Refugees and Asylum section.
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.