In the midst of a major public debate on whether Canada should accept more refugees, the Saskatchewan government is offering an extra $150,000 to help in the crisis.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall made the announcement shortly after meeting with members of executive council on Wednesday at the legislature. The money will come out of the current provincial budget.
“Yes, we have a tight budget,” Wall said. “But is it ever so tight that we can’t do whatever we can to help something as urgent as this?”
The government still has to decide exactly how and where the extra funds will be spent. Wall says the minister of immigration will be meeting with settlement agencies and reaching out to private non-government organizations that are already involved with helping refugees directly.
“To find out how best we can allocate these dollars, and possibly even discuss what more can be done other than these new dollars,” he said.
Before the refugee crisis came into the international spotlight, the provincial government had already asked the federal government to boost the limit on refugees coming to Saskatchewan to 400 from 350 per year.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced $1 million in funding for the refugee crisis and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley pledged $250,000 in provincial funding towards the cause.
Federal NDP and Liberal leaders are calling for a dramatic increase to the number of refugees Canada has committed to taking. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the government will look at how to improve the process, but cautioned that there is a security risk that must be considered when taking in more refugees.
“I think we have to make sure that whatever we’re pushing for in terms of numbers can be handled in terms of security issues,” Wall said, when asked if Canada should accept more refugees.
He said he does not accept the idea that the country can’t do more to help refugees without risking security.
“They want to come here because by and large this is a safe place, so let’s keep it safe, but also let’s keep it compassionate,” Wall said.
Beyond the politics: how to help Syrian refugees
Seeing the images of children and families running across borders is inspiring many people to ask the question, ‘how can I help?’
In the last five years, millions of Syrians have fled their homes trying to escape violence in the midst of a civil war and attacks by the Islamic State. International aid organizations have been on the ground providing, food, shelter, medical care and education in refugee camps since the beginning of the crisis.
Donations can be made to these International Aid Organizations that work with refugees.
The Canadian Government also offers a way to privately sponsor refugees. Religious organizations, community groups or private citizens can register to be matched with families of refugees who want to come to Canada.
For people who want to donate or volunteer locally, there are several settlement agencies in the province that provide services to refugees when they arrive in Saskatchewan.