A Saskatoon city councillor joins a national task force on the Syrian refugee crisis.
Ward 1 Councillor Darren Hill will be part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) initiative, after submitting his name for the post at a previous FCM meeting.
“In the past, Canada has seen its numbers of refugees increase when there was a crisis or issues in other parts of the world and I think you’ll see that again with the crisis in Syria,” he said.
He said the task force is a way to pool ideas and best practices and show the provinces and the federal government that the country’s cities have plenty to bring to the table on the refugee issue.
“At the end of the day, it’s the federal government that does determine how many people are going to come into Canada. But we, as the cities, house them and make them part of our communities. So we need to demonstrate to the federal government that we have capacity to take more,” he said.
Hill said he’s also going to be working on the issue here in Saskatoon, starting with a Monday meeting of the Standing Policy Committee on Planning, Development and Community Services. Committee members will be reviewing a report on the City of Saskatoon’s existing efforts to help refugees, which include grants to organizations like the Open Door Society and Global Gathering Place. They’ll also be looking at potential new measures, such as possibly expanding a program that subsidizes bus passes for newly arrived refugees.
“Of course we are under the control of the federal and provincial governments when it comes to refugees, but we certainly have demonstrated that we have the capacity and the desire to do more,” he said.