Edmonton, Calgary among 5 Alberta cities to host refugees

Edmonton, November 20 (CINEWS): Premier Rachel Notley says Calgary and Edmonton are expected to take in the bulk of Syrian refugees coming to Alberta, with the remainder spread out over three other cities — Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, and Red Deer.airport-welcome
“We’re working to ensure that we’re able to provide a seamless and effective settlement process,” Notley told reporters Wednesday.
“There are five cities where refugees would most likely land. The vast majority of them will be in Calgary and Edmonton.
Notley was flanked by Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi at the legislature following a meeting to discuss a range of issues, including the refugee resettlement.
The federal government has said it wants to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees across Canada by the end of the year.
Notley has said she expects Alberta will take between 2,500 and 3,000 of those fleeing the war-torn region.
The federal government has already designated reception centres for the refugees in the five cities.
Notley says final numbers for each municipality have not been worked out, but Iveson said they have enough to go on for now.
“We just understand the general order of magnitude, and that’s been helpful to start to plan for housing and to get our agencies prepared for settlement,” said Iveson.
He said while social housing remains tight, the downturn in Alberta’s oil-based economy has opened up opportunities in the general housing market.
“There’s a little bit of room in that market to take people, provided the sufficient funding is in place to be able to purchase that housing from the market,” he said.
“But there is capacity in both cities because of vacancy rates, and so that can be managed.”
The Islamic Family and Social Services Association in Edmonton said it has facilitated the private sponsorship and resettlement of 54 Syrian refugees in the city this year.
The organization is getting prepared to help another 150 refugees resettle in the Edmonton-area in January, the majority of which are young families. Staff said they’re mainly female-led households – widowed mothers with young children.
“I know we have one family who, the father faced torture multiple times and you can imagine the kind of trauma that wreaks on a person and the effects that that can have on the family at large,” Sarah Hanafi said.
“It’s families that are spread out across different countries, some in a refugee camp in Lebanon, some in Jordan or Turkey, not necessarily knowing the state and not knowing if someone is still alive.”
The issue has sparked debate following last week’s terrorist attacks that killed 129 in Paris.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has suggested the fast-track refugee resettlement program be suspended to ensure that terrorists don’t manage to find their way into Canada.
Alberta opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean has echoed Wall’s sentiments, saying humanitarian concerns must be weighed against safety.
“Let’s not be guided by rushed quotas and deadlines, but by ensuring the safety of Canadians as our paramount consideration,” Jean told the house on Monday.
Notley has said she expects Ottawa to conduct the requisite security checks, but doesn’t see the need for delay.

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