May 24, 2019

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Manitoba willing to take in more asylum-seekers

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This article was published 4/9/2015 (1358 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MANITOBA will accept more refugees if it gets the chance, Premier Greg Selinger says.

"We've always been a province welcoming of refugees," he said Thursday.

"Generally, we are very open. We've been asking for years to have the immigration cap lifted."

But Selinger said government can't do it alone so it needs public and private help to bring in refugees and help them while they begin a new life here.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/9/2015 (1358 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MANITOBA will accept more refugees if it gets the chance, Premier Greg Selinger says.

"We've always been a province welcoming of refugees," he said Thursday.

"Generally, we are very open. We've been asking for years to have the immigration cap lifted."

But Selinger said government can't do it alone so it needs public and private help to bring in refugees and help them while they begin a new life here.

"We think Manitoba is a good place to live."

Selinger commented in the wake of reaction to a photograph showing a three-year-old Syrian child who drowned after a raft capsized while trying to get from Turkey to Greece. His mother and five-year-old brother also drowned.

The Canadian Council for Refugees is arguing for Canada to commit to at least 10,000 government-assisted resettlement places for Syrians.

The federal government determines the number of refugees that will be resettled in Canada. On average, Manitoba receives about 1,400 government and privately sponsored refugees every year.

Manitoba's provincial nominee program is currently capped by the federal government at 5,000 nominees per year.

The federal government controls how many immigrants can come under the family-reunification classification; that has a cap of about 1,800 per year.

It means Manitoba gets from 13,000 to more than 16,000 immigrants each year.

Selinger said the province knows it can take more people from other countries because at one point before restrictions were imposed, it was able to bring in about 20,000 people per year.

"(Immigration) has made a big difference. It helps with the overall economic growth."

Meanwhile, Tom Denton, executive director of Hospitality House, which sponsors refugees, said he has had to tell 5,000 possible refugees each year they can't come because of federal government caps.

Denton credited Manitoba with bringing in refugees. "We have more privately sponsored and government-assisted refugees coming into Manitoba than any of the other smaller provinces," he said.

"The government wants to grow the province. I think the federal government is missing out on an opportunity to grow the country."

Denton said he knows there are private citizens, church groups and others that are willing and able to help bring in refugees, but the federal caps and red tape dramatically slow the numbers coming.

"Westworth United Church, and a community of churches and mosques and synagogues, have sponsored three Syrian families, a total of 24 people, yet they are waiting and waiting," he said.

"They have raised all the money needed, but immigration processes are so slow and cumbersome that it takes forever. It shouldn't be an immigration program, it should be a rescue program.

"People coming from Syria are not going through all of what they are going through to come to Canada as an agent for ISIS. They are escaping."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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