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B.C. 'ready' for 3,500 Syria refugees

Premier Christy Clark - Black Press
Premier Christy Clark
— image credit: Black Press

B.C. has been asked to take in 3,500 refugees from civil war and terrorist attacks in Syria and Iraq and is ready to do so, Premier Christy Clark says.

"The federal government has asked us to welcome 3,500 refugees as part of this, and we've said yes, we think we can do that," Clark said Wednesday. "We've set a million dollars aside and the federal government has also said they're going to restore the resettlement funding that was cut not that long ago.

"We are going to fund their children when they go to school, of course, and support them in finding the counselling services, the housing and general settlement services that they need."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stuck to his election commitment to bring 25,000 refugees into Canada by the end of December. But as logistical issues and security concerns have arisen, the deadline may be altered.

In his mandate letter to Immigration Minister John McCallum, Trudeau said a top priority is to "lead government-wide efforts to resettle 25,000 refugees from Syria in the coming months."

Clark said the number, timing and security screening of refugee claimants is up to Ottawa.

"I accept their assurances that they can do a very rigorous screening process for everyone that we're welcoming into the country in the time that they've set out for it," Clark said.

"Our job in British Columbia is to welcome them, and to make sure that we as communities and a province do everything that we can to make sure that they get the best possible start, so those refugees can start contributing to our society and be a part of our society, because that's what they want. And that's what we need."

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