Canada’s mayors agree that the federal government needs to do more to help Syrian refugees.
The Big City Mayors’ Caucus is collectively agreeing action needs to be taken. The group represents leaders of the country’s 21 biggest cities. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson chairs the group and said Ottawa only accepts 6,900 government-assisted refugees each year, calling it “unacceptably low”.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere isn’t as quick to start pointing fingers and play the blame game, but he does agree some extra steps should be taken.
“We need to take more refugees in, there’s no question about that,” he agreed. “We must do more as a country and as a province.”
Fougere said we need to take a stand to show Canada is a compassionate country, Saskatchewan is a compassionate province and that Regina is a compassionate city.
“What is really true in the Canadian tradition is to support refugees, support these people in their time of crisis and not stand back and do nothing.”
The province recently announced how it would be providing $150,000 in funding for aid. As well, the University of Regina is on board, recently announcing it would set aside $200,000 to help first-year refugee students pay items like tuition, textbooks and clothing.
Fougere explained while the number of refugees accepted is the responsibility of the provincial and federal governments, the city can still play an important role in helping refugees settle. He said he wants to have discussions with the province, along with city staff and fellow councillors on how to best help those seeking refuge from their war-torn homeland.
As an example, Fougere outlined how that could include providing more resources to community based organizations like the Open Door Society to help refugees seek long-term employment.