The 25,000th refugee from war-torn Syria landed in Montreal on Saturday, fulfilling the federal Liberal government’s election-time promise of opening Canada’s doors to those fleeing the crisis.
The original plan was to resettle this number of people in the country by the end of 2015, but that target quickly became unattainable after Justin Trudeau took office. The deadline was pushed two months to March 1 and the government also made public that it would prioritize women, children, families, and groups that may face persecution, including individuals that identify as LGBTQ.
Toronto and Montreal have become Canada’s landing cities for refugees, before they are directed to other Canadian cities for resettlement. According to Immigration and Citizenship Canada, as of Monday, Toronto recorded 52 flights carrying a total of 12,667 refugees and Montreal saw 39 flights with 9,974 refugees.
Thousands of refugees are already living in British Columbia, mainly within Metro Vancouver, and in recent days immigration and refugee services in the Vancouver region have been mobilizing to accommodate a surge in new refugees. From February 24 to March 4, approximately 1,100 Syrian refugees will be arriving at Vancouver International Airport from domestic flights originating in Eastern Canada.
Although the federal government’s target has been reached, Canada will still be accepting Syrian refugees, but at a slower pace. By the end of 2016, the country could see between 35,000 and 50,000 Syrian refugees.
However, support for Trudeau’s refugee plan has waned over the last several weeks. A recent Angus Reid poll found that 52 per cent of Canadians support the plan while 44 per cent are opposed.
Support for refugee resettlement is highest in British Columbia, where 61 per cent say they support refugees from Syria coming to Canada.