In last week’s MP report I committed to providing further updates as they become available with respect to the Liberal Government’s plan to relocate 25,000 refugees to Canada prior to the end of 2015. This week more information has been provided on this topic that continues to be raised by citizens in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola daily.
The most significant announcement from the Liberal Government this week is that the timeline to relocate 25,000 refugees prior to the end of 2015 will not be met. Instead the revised deadline has been extended to fall into March of 2016. Other changes include privately sponsored refugees now being included within the total number of 25,000 refugees relocated to Canada. It has also been announced that refugees who are women, children, families and men that may be members of LGBT communities will be prioritized for refugee status.
How does this process work? Canada will accept referrals from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) who has identified refugees from Jordan and Lebanon that meet the criteria. Refugees who are accepting relocation to Canada will complete an iris scan to confirm their identity. Once identity has been confirmed, the Government has indicated that the process will include a medical examination, screening for communicable diseases and also security screening including biometric scans that includes finger printing and digital photo identification which will be cross referenced with various immigration, law enforcement and security databases. Refugees who successfully pass through this screening process will then be issued permanent resident visas and flown free of charge (in the past refugees were loaned airfare fees) via private charter aircraft to either Montreal or Toronto airports.
After landing in Canada refugees will be resettled in 36 different cities across Canada with 13 being located in Quebec and the remaining 23 outside of Quebec including several here in British Columbia. At this point the full list of cities and breakdown of numbers for each of these cities has not been publicly released however is expected in the near future. Some will view these recent changes as broken election promises from the Liberal Government. From my perspective the original timeline announced by the Liberals was an arbitrary political one and I will credit the Government for recognizing that taking the time to process and resettle refugees properly are far more important considerations than meeting its own politically self-imposed timelines. While all Canadians may have different views on this topic I believe we are united in the desire to see new citizens welcomed in a manner that offers the best possible chance for success for everyone as we grow our Canadian family.
Also occurring this past week was an announcement by the Leader of the official opposition, Hon. Rona Ambrose appointing the opposition critic positions. It is an honour for me to be named as the critic for Inter-Provincial trade which also includes labour mobility. As Canada enters into an unprecedented new era of international trade deals it remains critically important that our local producers have full and free access to our Canadian domestic market across Provincial borders. As always I welcome your comments, questions and concerns. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.