The mayors of the 13 Quebec cities hosting Syrian refugees expected by the end of 2015 need to be better informed of Ottawa plans and Quebec politicians ignoring even how many each city will receive.
A conference call of one minute forty noon yesterday brought together these mayors to take stock of the folder. “What strikes me is the willingness of cities to receive refugees. Each has already taken initiatives to bring together groups on its territory. But it lacks two pieces of the puzzle: Quebec and Ottawa. Cities are already hard at work, but they do not have all the information, “said the mayor of Longueuil, Caroline St-Hilaire.
The Union of Quebec Municipalities has set up a committee to which it hopes to join Ottawa and Quebec to coordinate the arrival of refugees. “We need to sit down, if necessary on a daily basis, so that each mayor calls left and right to get information. We want to avoid having failures. We had beautiful home success and refugees should not miss the boat, “said Ms. St-Hilaire.
Municipal officials want including whether they receive financial support from Ottawa and Quebec, since the integration of thousands of refugees might be quite expensive for cities whose budgets are already very tight.
Discussions on the number of refugees
Discussions have been initiated between the Department of Immigration of Quebec and the cities on the number of refugees that each is ready to welcome. Longueuil believes it can accommodate 200, while Quebec City has to accept up to 800.
“We will respect the people carrying capacity. If a city 200 tells us, we do not send 400 “, told La Presse Marie-Hélène Paradis, the office of the Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil.
The Department of Immigration currently preferred not to specify the number of refugees who will go in each city, the discussions are still ongoing. Impossible to know how many of them will go to Montreal, as many expect that the city receives all refugees who have no place in the other 12 cities.
The Montreal integration capacity is seen as more important because of the strong presence of the Syrian community, who may sponsor many refugees. The city can also count on important community resources to facilitate their integration.
The City of Montreal has also just hired a former federal deputy minister for Immigration Michel Dorais, to coordinate efforts in receiving refugees on its territory. This retired federal public servant since 2007 has a long immigration roadmap; he was notably Chief Negotiator for Ontario in negotiations with Ottawa in 2011 for coaching newcomers.
Michel Dorais role will be to coordinate the committee Solidarity Syria, which brings together municipal departments, boroughs and community groups in the city. The first meeting of this group is expected today.
“Montreal is ready to receive Syrian refugees, we want to make sure everything is done right,” said Denis Coderre.
The Mayor of Montreal also urged caution following the attacks in Paris, especially compared to the fears aroused by the fact that one of the suicide bombers mingled with the flow of migrants to travel to France. “Do not link between refugees and terrorism. They are also victims. We must not create amalgams, we must demonstrate our openness, “he has said.
Denis Coderre said he understood these fears, but says they must not encourage Canada to close its doors. “Security, yes, but it is necessary that an excuse not receive anyone.”
From December 1?
The Quebec radio station FM93 said yesterday that the first contingent of Syrian refugees arrive in Canada on December 1. Five hundred of them would be accommodated at the Valcartier military base and a thousand other than Trenton, Ontario.
Various contracts have already been granted to companies to provide “essential services” from that date. Single members living at the Valcartier base have received an email inviting them to unleash their military housing to make room for refugees.
The Canadian Forces yesterday refused to confirm or deny this information, stating that “a decision has not been made yet.” Remember that the Federal Immigration Minister John McCallum to present the government’s plan by a few days.