Red Deer willing to accept more refugees if government funding is there

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
February 3, 2017 - 3:31pm

Local officials say Red Deer is willing to accept more refugees if called upon, but not without the government funding needed to support them.

Earlier this week, Premier Rachel Notley responded to the possibility of Ottawa lifting a cap on refugees. 

"Certainly we indicated to them at the time that we would be very happy to work with them to increase that number if that is the direction they choose to go," Notley said on Wednesday. 
 
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says while resettlement agencies have risen to the occasion over the last year, they'll need more support should our city get another surge of new residents.
 
"The position of Alberta mayors has been that both the provincial and federal government need to ensure that they provide adequate settlement assistance, particularly for those communities that have seen an influx of new population, particularly on the housing front," she says.
 
"Most of those refugees are settled with stable housing and employment. There are some exceptions, particularly on the housing front, but for the most part, they have settled and are integrating into the community."
 
Frank Bauer, Executive Director with Central Alberta Refugee Effort says it doesn't matter which country the refugees come from, the capacity of Red Deer to accept more depends on the funding.
 
"I think the community overall, what with the exceptional influx last year of 200 Syrian refugees, as a community, we've shown that we're able to take in more and welcome more immigrants, so that 200 was exceptional and was a high workload for the people that directly work with those families, but overall, we've been very successful in helping these people find a place," he says. 
 
"Some of them got jobs in the meantime, and are going to school. We do have a capacity to welcome more than the 70 or 80 [on average per year], but it's a matter of the federal government deciding how much they would accept nationally per year. It's something that's beyond our influence really."

Bauer also noted the work of Catholic Social Services in resettlement efforts throughout central Alberta.

On Tuesday, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said the government will stick to its current plan while carefully considering the implications of a policy change.

Between November 2015 and December 2016, the Alberta government welcomed 7,004 refugees to our province.

(with files from The Canadian Press)

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