Ontario Forms Ministers' Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees
Province Coordinating Efforts to Support the Federal Government’s Plan to Settle Refugees
The Ontario Government has established a Ministers' Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees in order to support its commitment to help settle thousands of refugees before the end of the year. Ontario stands ready to support the federal government's strategy, and will work to increase the capacity of settlement and integration services to meet the needs of the refugees who will be settled in Ontario.
The ad hoc committee, co-chaired by Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade Michael Chan and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins, held its first meeting on November 17. The committee is tasked with overseeing ongoing efforts and coordinating a cross-government response to prepare for incoming refugees and help them settle and integrate once they arrive. It will also work closely with the federal government to determine how Ontario can best support a national plan for refugee settlement.
The government is committed to providing incoming refugees with health services and emergency medical assistance, and is collaborating with the Canadian Red Cross to ensure that additional emergency social services are available if needed.
Earlier this year, the government committed $2 million to Syrian relief efforts. It is also investing $8.5 million to promote refugee sponsorship and ensure that immigrant and refugee serving agencies can expand services as needed. Priority needs include settlement services, housing support, healthcare, trauma counselling and mental health supports, and language training and employment support.
- In addition to Ministers Chan and Hoskins, the committee also includes Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services; Deb Matthews, President of the Treasury Board and Minister Responsible For Poverty Reduction; Liz Sandals, Minister of Education; Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services; Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing; Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure; Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Children and Youth Services; David Orazietti, Minister of Government and Consumer Services; and Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation and Training, Colleges and Universities.
- The government is supporting Lifeline Syria in helping to resettle over 1,000 refugees and is working with community agencies to expand settlement supports. Over 250 Arabic language interpreters have been identified to help refugees resettle and integrate.
- Refugees typically face greater settlement and integration challenges than other newcomers. Many refugees have experienced prolonged periods in refugee camps, trauma, violence and limited access to health care and education.
- In 2014, Ontario welcomed more than 11,400 refugees from around the world to start a new life in the province.
“We are proud of our inclusive and open society in Ontario. With the exception of Ontario’s Indigenous peoples, everyone in our province came here from somewhere else, in search of opportunity. Our government is doing everything we can to work with the federal government and live up to our commitment to welcome refugees and help them share in the opportunity and security that is at the heart of our province.”
“Ontario is ready to give new hope and new opportunity to those fleeing war and desperation. We are preparing for the arrival of many refugees, and are confident they will get the help they desperately need.”
“I am honoured to be working with Minister Chan as co-chair of Ontario’s Ministers’ Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees. The outpouring of support from Ontario’s local health partners, hospitals, public health units and community health centres has been outstanding, and we will continue working together to ensure that the needs of refugees are met.”