Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Impact of Syrian Refugee Promise on Immigration Levels Undetermined: McCallum

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Impact of Syrian Refugee Promise on Immigration Levels Undetermined: McCallum

Article excerpt

Refugees to dominate immigration agenda


OTTAWA - The time-sensitive nature of the Liberal commitment to Syrian refugees will dominate the first few months of the government's actions on the immigration file as a whole, the immigration minister says.

And the ripple effect that commitment could also have on other programs within the portfolio has yet to be figured out, John McCallum says.

Each year, the government sets a range for immigration levels in all categories, and spaces for refugees and other humanitarian cases are usually about 10 per cent of the total.

Where resettling 25,000 Syrians by year-end fits into that and how it could affect immigration levels from other programs is a question many organizations have been asking in recent weeks, wondering whether it will mean other categories will be cut back or refugee resettlement programs from other areas of the world will be affected.

"We have not addressed that question yet but it will certainly come up and in general, my philosophy is to favour more rather than fewer immigrants but the precise numbers are yet to be determined," McCallum said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

McCallum said the Liberals intend to take a new approach to the immigration file overall, which he described as making Canada far more welcoming for families by making reunification easier, which ranges from adding staff to get wait times down to adjusting policies in a number of areas, including the points system under the economic immigration stream.

"Our general mantra is we want to welcome newcomers with a smile," he said.

That's also reflected in the decision to place the word refugee itself into the formal title of the department, now known as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, McCallum said.

"It speaks to the nature of the country, it speaks to a long tradition under both Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments," he said.

"And I think from only after a very short time in this job, I am sensing that across the country people and organizations across the country want to support this. …

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