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Exclusive: Canada closing, scaling back foreign refugee processing centres

The federal government has confirmed to CityNews that it has closed all foreign processing centres for Syrian refugees who want to come to Canada.

The move comes a month after Ottawa reached its goal of bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to this country. And while the Liberals have committed to admitting an additional 10,000 by years end, private sponsors – include former mayor John Sewell – say they’ve been left in the lurch

“Nobody knows when their family is going to arrive,” Sewell told CityNews. “There’s a lot of sponsorship groups in Toronto that have raised their money and have houses and apartments all ready to go. There’s no families.”

“They’ve cut back all temporary staff in Jordan and Lebanon and Turkey so they can’t process them and they’ve taken all the temporary staff out of Winnipeg so they can’t process them.”

On top of closing those processing centres, the government has implemented caps on the number of privately-sponsored refugee applications for this year. That cap is not just for Syria but for all refugees entering this country. It’s a policy decision that wasn’t announced with any level of fanfare and one that wasn’t acknowledged by the Prime Minister even when he was pressed on the issue Thursday.

“We continue to be engaged on the issue of Syrian refugees,” responded Trudeau. “We will continue to draw in refugees from Syria, but at the same time we are engaged in an overhaul of the immigration and refugee system.

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Trudeau did not offer any details of what this overhaul would entail.

In order to sponsor a family, groups have to come up with $40,000, which covers food and transportation. Many groups have already rented homes for their sponsored families and have only just learned they’ll sit empty for at least another eight months.