The Canadian government is backing down from its pledge to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015. The new resettlement plan calls for only 10,000 refugees by year-end, with another 15,000 by the end of February, according to the BBC.
In order to reach this revised goal, Canada seems to be addressing a problem the world media generally preferred to conceal until very recently: the high percentage of single military-age males in the refugee tidal wave.
According to CBC News, the Canadian government will “limit those accepted into Canada to women, children, and families only,” due to “some ongoing concerns about security.”
CBC notes that the government has “so far been mum about both the kind of security screening it is doing and whether it will be limited to refugee camps overseas, or whether some of it will take place in Canada.”
The BBC report seems to simultaneously dispute and confirm CBC’s report, quoting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying he rejected the idea of “exclusions” for single men, while Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Minister John McCallum declared, “We want them to have a roof over their head, and the right support.”
However, McCallum added, “It takes a bit of time to put that all in place. We’re happy to take a little more time that originally planned to bring our new friends into the country.” This suggests the single military-age males might be delayed a bit longer, but not refused outright.
The BBC adds gay men and women to the list of Syrians who will be granted refugee status more swiftly. Canadian officials said their decision to slow down the immigration process was not influenced by the Paris terror attack.
The CBC quotes Health Minister Jane Philpott saying that “full exams and security screening will be completed overseas prior to arriving in Canada,” followed by “further screening for communicable diseases” upon arrival.
The Department of Defense will reportedly assist immigration officials with screening and processing refugees at camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the air force is prepared to “airlift refugees to Canada every 48 hours if needed,” although current plans rely largely on privately chartered aircraft.
Up to 6,000 refugees will be temporarily housed at Canadian military bases in Ontario and Quebec, after which they will be resettled to 13 cities in Quebec and 23 other cities across the rest of the country. The refugee resettlement program is now estimated to cost $678 million, far more than the $250 million promised by the Liberal party in their election platform.