Syrian Refugee UPDATE from Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

November 27, 2015

Dear Heads of Council

I’m aware that many municipal leaders have questions about their possible involvement in helping to resettle Syrian refugees.

While many details remain to be worked out by the federal government, the overall plan is taking shape nicely. Let me share with you a few of the things we know so far.

  • We expect that the first wave of refugees coming to Canada will number about 10,000 by year end.
  • Of these the majority will be privately sponsored. These refugees will be settled and cared for by their sponsors.
  • A much smaller number will be government assisted. These refugees will be assisted by federally-funded Refugee Assistance Program agencies located in six urban centres: Toronto (serving the Greater Toronto Area including Peel, York and Durham Regions), Ottawa, London, Windsor, Hamilton and Kitchener- Waterloo. These communities account for about 90% of immigrant and refugee landings to Ontario.
  • We expect the government assisted refugees will be located primarily in those urban centres, to make it as easy as possible to provide them with services.
  • An additional 15,000 refugees are expected to come to Canada by the end of February 2016.
  • Ontario played a leadership role early on, with an additional $8.5-million in funding to help sponsors and settlement organizations. We continue to play a leadership role in helping to coordinate these efforts. Federal, provincial and municipal representatives are hard at work on pinning down more details and engaging directly with the municipalities likely to be most affected.

I’ve spoken with a number of mayors in the last few days and been overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity. Everyone is eager to help. This is a proud moment for our province and our country.

  • The federal government has established a website, Welcome Refugees [] for up-to-date information. Ontario has also established a Syrian Refugee page [] with information on how people can help.
  • Our province has also established a central co-ordinating function here led by Joan Andrew, a very able former deputy minister of Citizenship and Immigration. You can reach her at 416-325 4764 or

    I’m very proud of the way our province is stepping up to show hospitality, and I’m grateful to all of you for your many efforts. As plans continue to evolve, I’ll do my best to keep you informed. And I or Joan will be happy to receive your suggestions and offers of resources as we go forward.

    Kindest personal regards,

    Ted McMeekin Minister