The wheels of Canada's refugee system do not always turn quickly, particularly when newcomers are being brought to the country by private sponsors rather than via a government-run program. Guidelines published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada spell out the process, complete with the many restrictions in place at each stage. Only certain classes of refugees are eligible for private sponsorship, and those sponsorships can only be undertaken by groups or individuals prepared to assume the considerable responsibilities of resettling new arrivals. There are also slightly different regulations for those identifying a specific refugee to sponsor and those who are willing to be matched with pre-approved applicants, but in both cases the expectations are the same — sponsors must be prepared to handle all of a refugee's expenses for either the first year of their residency or until they become self-sufficient, whichever comes soonest. This entails providing a standard of living that's at least in line with social assistance levels in the sponsor's home province. In Estill's case, he estimates needing to spend a minimum of $30,000 for each family that enters the community.
"I wasn't finding that other organizations or government were doing things fast enough."
Community Stepping Up To Help
English language coaching and career counselling will also be available, Estill said, adding that the project is benefiting from a piece of good luck. "There is actually an imbalance, there are more jobs than there are people right now. I have employers lining up, basically, he said. "If you have 50 families, you're probably only going to have 75 people who want jobs...I have single employers that will take 75 people."
"We're not paying anybody, we're just calling friends and saying, 'listen, I need a favour here.'"
Government Paying For Some ExpensesEstill's total cost is less than it might be in ordinary circumstances. The political turmoil causing refugees to flea Syria in droves has prompted the government to ease restrictions and pick up the tab for expenses they wouldn't normally shoulder. Ottawa will pay for medical and travel costs for privately sponsored refugees fleeing the country. Health-care coverage will also be provided by the federal government, a departure from normal protocol in which the province assumes those costs. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed to bringing 25,000 refugees into Canada over the next several months, about 10,000 of whom are expected to be privately sponsored. Follow @mich_mcq on Twitter
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