HALIFAX – As the swearing in of the new Trudeau Liberal government draws closer, more attention is being focused on the campaign promises, including a bold refugee plan.
While refugee advocacy groups in Halifax are praising prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau’s plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year, they say it may be an impossible task.
Immigration Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) say more time is needed, and that two months to accommodate thousands of refugees in the province would cause a housing and health crisis.
“It is already a challenge to find housing for refugees. It’s a challenge because (of the) level of funding that’s provided. So we have to find low cost housing and often people come with large families,” said Nabiha Attalah of ISANS.
Immigrant services are recommending extending the timeline into 2016.
Halifax immigration lawyer Lee Cohen has a different perspective. He says although it will be a huge undertaking and there will be large amounts of paper work from security and criminal checks, Trudeau’s timeline is feasible.
“I think the government should be supported in this initiative. I think it can be done and I think if we can’t do 25,000 by the end of the year, we can certainly do a large percentage of that,” Cohen said.
Halifax residents step up to help
About half a dozen people attended the latest Syrian refugee information session on sponsorship held by ISANS. Among them was Halifax resident Sandra Murphy who wants to become a sponsor. She says her need to help is innate.
“I think it’s a human response to people who are in desperate situations,” she said.
Murphy says she has been moved to act by the current refugee crisis in Syria and feels other Canadians should do the same, no matter the timeline.
“With the current situation where the world refugee situation is the worst it’s been since the second world war, we really felt we wanted to get involved,” Murphy said.