The government plans to provide free housing and all transportation costs for people who have fled the country as a result of war, but still struggle to find work
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced plans on Monday to take in more than 40,000 refugees, the highest annual number of arrivals in the country’s history.
The government plans to provide free housing and all transportation costs for people who have fled the country as a result of war, but still struggle to find work.
The government will finance the cost of winter shelter for up to 35,000 of those people, who will be housed in government-provided quarters to improve their chances of finding work.
The additional people will add to a total of roughly 10,000 Syrian refugees brought to Canada in 2015 and 2016.
The tally brings to nearly 44,000 the number of Syrians who have settled in Canada since 2015, when the government first pledged to resettle some 20,000 Syrians.
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“To those fleeing war, terror and persecution, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith,” Trudeau said in a speech in Toronto.
“Whether you’re a Muslim fleeing war in Syria or a Jew fleeing Nazis in Germany, freedom and democracy are the only home you will ever know.”
Canada came to the aid of Turkey earlier this year by hosting more than a million Syrian refugees fleeing the war there. But more refugees have since arrived from Afghanistan than from either Iraq or Syria, according to UNHCR data.
Canada’s Conservative opposition, which has accused Trudeau of making international promises without realizing the numbers involved, welcomed the government’s decision to take in more refugees.
But spokesman for opposition leader Andrew Scheer said refugees should be held to the same levels of international obligations and responsibility that the country takes itself.
After taking office in 2015, Trudeau’s Liberals had said it would accept between 10,000 and 15,000 refugees a year. Last year the government accepted a record-breaking 10,131 people, bringing the total for 2016 to an unprecedented 29,261.
In November, authorities said Canada would resettle 3,200 refugees from Myanmar, where the military is accused of violence against Rohingya Muslims, a year after it helped implement a ceasefire between the government and a rebel group.