United Way of Peel Region and the Region of Peel are Co-chairing the Peel Syrian Resettlement Planning Committee. Visit www.nitedwaypeel.org/helpsyrianrefugees or call their dedicated telephone line to leave a message at (905)-602-3638.
- Canada.ca/Refugees: The Canadian federal government has committed to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada as a result of escalating violence in Syria and increasing humanitarian needs.
- United Way of Peel Region is helping to resettle Syrian refugees in Peel Region. Donate money and items or volunteer your time with United Way.
- Lifeline Syria is an organization helping to bring refugees to the GTA. Learn more information on how to sponsor a family through Lifeline Syria.
What You Can Do
Q: How can I help the refugees?
A: Contact the United Way of Peel Region at www.unitedwaypeel.org/helpsyrianrefugees to find out where to donate money and drop off donations. Visit Canada.ca/Refugees for more information from the Government of Canada.
Q: How can I sponsor a family from Syria?
A: Visit Lifelinesyria.ca or Canada.ca/Refugees for more information on how to sponsor a family from Syria. Private sponsors agree to provide Syrian refugees with care, lodging, settlement assistance and social support. Normally, a private sponsor supports a refugee for 12 months, starting from the refugee's arrival in Canada or until the refugee becomes self-sufficient, whichever comes first.
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Q: Will my taxes go up to pay to support the refugees?
A: No. All of Peel's expenditures will be closely tracked and it is the expectation that these costs will be recovered from the provincial and federal governments.
Q: How many refugees are coming to Peel? How many are staying here?
A: We don't know how many refugees will eventually settle long term in Peel. Ontario has agreed to accept approximately 10,000 refugees, but it is difficult for us to estimate how many of them will settle here.
Q: Why are we taking in so many refugees when we already have issues with homelessness and poverty?
A: Settlement of Syrian refugees is a national project and the refugees may settle in any part of the country. Peel doing its part to help and we are anticipating no interruption to the programs and services we provide to residents as we welcome Syrian refugees.
Q: Will my access to community programs be impacted?
A: No. Peel has experience and expertise welcoming immigrants, including refugees, every year. We do not anticipate any interruptions to our program or services as we welcome Syrian refugees.
Q: Will the Syrian refugees jump to the top of the line for social services in Peel?
A: No. The federal government will be supporting Syrian refugees for 12 months. After 12 months, the Syrian refugees will lose their federal financial support and may require supports including Ontario Works Assistance, and children's dental care. The services will be provided as necessary and Syrian refugees will apply to these programs using the usual process.
Q: I have already sponsored family from a country other than Syria and they use the supports given by one of the many settlement agencies in Peel. Will they lose their supports because the agencies will only focus on the Syrian refugees?
A: Absolutely not. Those needing settlement or other services will get them, regardless of what country they are from.
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Government of Canada Commitment
Q: Who is going to pay to support the refugees?
A: Support for Syrian refugees will come from private sponsors across Canada and the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada will invest up to $678 million over six years to supporting the resettlement and ensuring integration support for these Syrian refugees. More information about the budget breakdown is available here.
Q. How long will the federal government support each refugee? What happens once that money runs out?
A: The government has committed to supporting each refugee for 12 months after their arrival. After 12 months, Syrian refugees will lose their federal financial support and may require additional supports. At that point in time, they (just like any Peel residents needing assistance) can apply for financial assistance through Ontario Works Assistance or Ontario Disability Support Program.
Q: Canada has committed to bring 25,000 Syrians to Canada. Will we allow more refugees into the country after this first group has settled?
A: The government's commitment to bringing in Syrian refugees will continue in 2016. Given the current initiative includes privately sponsored refugees, this will include taking in more government-assisted refugees (GARs) to reach a total target of 25,000 GARs. We do not know how many more refugees the federal government will bring to Canada in future years.
Q: Will the refugees steal jobs from Canadians?
A: No. A growing Canadian economy depends on a growing population--who play crucial roles as workers, consumers, taxpayers and entrepreneurs. Immigration, including the arrival of refugees, could be a significant economic opportunity for Canada. Studies have shown that sponsored refugees benefit from the networks of their sponsors, find work quickly and match or outperform other immigrant groups. While our primary concern for refugees is driven by our desire to welcome those in a distressed situation, the arrival of refugees also presents an economic opportunity.
Q: I have been trying to sponsor my family to come to Canada, but they're not from Syria or in a refugee camp. Will my claim be delayed because the Syrian refugees are more important than my application?
A: Processing sponsorship applications remains a federal responsibility. For more information, please visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/sponsor/
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The Region of Peel's Role
Q: What is Peel doing to help the refugees?
A: Peel is proactively preparing to support the arrival of Syrian refugees and meet their short and long-term needs, while collaborating with the federal and provincial governments, area municipalities, settlement agencies, health sector partners and community partners.
Immediately, Peel will assist as requested with the health and medical needs of the refugees as they arrive at Pearson airport. We will also focus on supporting the basic needs of refugees, including food, shelter, clothing and access to services, and adjust the plan as the situation changes.
Peel will also provide financial resources to the settlement agencies in the region to help them quickly increase their capacity to manage the rapid influx of refugees and sustain this work over time. The Region's plan is summarized in this Council Report.
Q: Will Peel or any of the cities be hiring staff to help with the settlement of the refugees? If so, how do I apply?
A: No, there are no employment opportunities to help with the settlement of the refugees at this time. For volunteer opportunities, please visit: www.unitedwaypeel.org/helpsyrianrefugees
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Q: I have concerns about security after the attacks on Paris. How can I be sure that my family and I, and our community, will be kept safe when the refugees arrive?
A: The federal government is working closely with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to identify registered Syrian refugees who can be resettled. Canada's focus will be on identifying vulnerable refugees who are a lower security risk. Robust health and security screening will be completed overseas - before refugees arrive in Canada. This will include the collection of biographic information and biometric screening of all refugees, verified against databases. No-one will get on a plane to Canada without going through this rigorous process.
Q: How long have the refugees been living in camps overseas?
A: Some of the refugees have been in camps overseas since 2011.
Q: I heard there are more than four million Syrian refugees. Why aren't we sponsoring more to come to Canada?
A: The vast majority of refugees will stay within the Middle East, as resettlement to a third country outside of their region is a last resort. For example, Turkey is currently the host country for about 2 million refugees from Syria, with more than 1 million in Lebanon and 600,000 in Jordan; each of these countries also have additional refugees from earlier conflicts in Iraq and other neighboring countries.
Q: How many Syrians already live in Peel? Were they refugees, too?
A: Based on data from the 2011 National Household Survey, Peel has about 5,000 individuals of Syrian/Assyrian descent living inside its boundaries. Of this total, 3,500 are immigrants, including 580 that have arrived within the previous five years.
Q: Why are we bringing refugees from a warm country to Canada in winter time?
A: Resettling refugees is a proud and important part of Canada's humanitarian tradition. We have a shared responsibility to help people who are displaced and persecuted--including millions of Syrians who continue to be displaced due to conflict in their home country.