The Senate committee looking into Canada’s Syrian refugee program wants the government to immediately tackle pressing issues such financial burdens posed by travel expenses, the need for language training, and treatment of mental health problems.
A total of 28,449 Syrian refugees has arrived in Canada since Nov 4. However, many of them now face the challenge of coming up with money to pay for travel loans amounting to as much as $10,000. Refugees that arrived in Canada after the Liberals came to power Nov 4 had their travel expenses covered by the government. The senators said the travel loans are a source of anxiety and added pressure for the refugees, many of whom are still in search of jobs and are still struggling to adjust to life in their new home.
The committee also wants the government to address the issue of providing treatment for refugees that may be suffering from the trauma of mental health issues associated with living in an environment that has been under a state of conflict for years.
Since May this year, the committee members have been traveling to Toronto and Montreal to talk with the refugees and learn more about their plight and the problems they now face in Canada. The committee is expected to release its full report in the fall, however, documents obtained by the CBC indicates that the senators want the government to extend more help to the refugees now.
Welcoming the Syrians fleeing their war-torn country is “not sufficient to sufficient to address the very real and very real urgent problems that lie ahead,” according to a written statement from Sen. Jim Munson, chairman of the committee.
Among the recommendation of the committee are:
- Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to introduce a debt-forgiveness mechanism or interest-free loans
- Increase funding for language training programs
- Provide child care for families so that parents can attend classes
- A draft of a comprehensive plan to tackle mental health illness among refugees
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