Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Integration Still a Challenge for Syrian Refugees One Year Later: Researchers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Integration Still a Challenge for Syrian Refugees One Year Later: Researchers

Article excerpt

Refugee integration still an uneven process

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MONTREAL - More than a year after landing in Canada, many Syrian refugees are still having trouble integrating, according to government data and researchers who have studied the issue.

In comparison to government-sponsored refugees, privately sponsored newcomers tend to fare much better in the short term in language acquisition and job integration, Dawn Edlund of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said Thursday.

She said that while more than half of the privately sponsored Syrian refugees who arrived before March 2016 have found work, only 10 per cent of government-sponsored refugees have done so.

"The integration journey that people are on has various aspects to it, and Syrian refugees, whether privately sponsored or government-sponsored, are on that exact same pathway," she told The Canadian Press in an interview.

"I don't know if I identify that as a gap. It's a similar pathway that we've seen resettled refugees travel before."

Edlund was among the first presenters at a multi-day conference in Montreal that is bringing together speakers from academia, government and social-services organizations to discuss how best to integrate newcomers over the long term.

Part of the reason for the discrepancy is the fact government-sponsored refugees tend to arrive with a lower level of education and have a lower self-reported level of knowledge of English or French, Edlund said.

In addition, many privately sponsored refugees benefit from the support of friends and family already in Canada, she said.

"They come into a support network around them that is already strong, already has people who are living in Canada who have employment contacts," she said, adding history shows that gaps in employment outcome between the two groups generally disappear after eight or nine years. …

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