McCallum continues to boast as refugee integration stumbles



by Candice Malcolm

Toronto Sun
June 10, 2016

Immigration Minister John McCallum seems pretty proud of himself lately.

When asked a tough question in the House of Commons by opposition immigration critic Michelle Rempel, McCallum responded with a zinger.

Rempel asked how his government planned to address the shortage of language training for Syrian newcomers, or if he was simply too busy planning his next photo op.

McCallum dryly responded, “if the government wanted to send somebody somewhere for a photo op, I suspect there are people along this aisle they’d probably send before they sent me.”

Very funny. He then sat down without even pretending to answer Rempel’s question. But it was an important point that deserved more than just a self-deprecating joke.

In their mad rush to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, the government has overburdened just about every aspect of its refugee resettlement system.

There were widespread housing shortages, forcing many refugees to live in budget motels. Refugees arrived with acute illnesses, overburdening our healthcare system and leaving many without the care they need.

Syrian children arrived at schools where no one spoke Arabic and no one could help them communicate.

In British Columbia, half of all Syrian refugees have settled in the community of Surrey. Thanks to the lack of planning, there are long waiting lists for support services and up to a year-long wait for English lessons.

How are refugees supposed to integrate in Canada – find a job, make friends, communicate in an emergency – if they have to wait an entire year to enroll in language training?

Everywhere you look, there are disheartening tales of Syrian refugees being neglected and ignored. And yet, our immigration minister continues to boast about his record.

On Thursday, McCallum and his staff testified before the immigration committee to discuss the details of their budget. The minister proudly told the committee that Canada will admit the highest number of immigrants since the First World War, including a 400% increase in refugees.

But despite this self-congratulatory attitude, McCallum and his officials struggled to answer even the most basic budgetary questions.

How much was spent on housing Syrian refugees in hotels and motels? The government didn’t know.

What is the cost impact on the provincial and municipal governments to pay for social services to Syrian newcomers? They couldn’t answer.

How much will it cost to waive the immigration loan program? Once again, McCallum and his officials told the committee they didn’t know.

Instead, McCallum deflected the question by bragging about his budget. Despite all the problems on the ground, all the refugees still waiting for services, the government somehow managed to come in $136 million under budget.

They can’t tell us how much various aspects of their program will cost taxpayers, but they know the pie-in-the-sky figure they gave themselves a few months ago was too high even for them to spend.

That doesn’t demonstrate fiscal responsibility, it emphasizes the government’s total incompetence when it comes to refugee resettlement.

After this spectacle at committee, I followed up with the immigration department to find answers to these spending questions. Once again, they failed to answer.

Back at their desks, with all the resources of the federal government and a day to respond, McCallum’s department still could not provide answers to straightforward questions.

They have no idea how much they’re spending on Syrian refugees, and yet, they’re celebrating coming in under budget.

It’s time for McCallum to drop the smug routine and start answering these important questions.

Image: Canoe

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Defining Procurement Success for Strong, Secure, Engaged

January 17, 2019

(feat. Dave Perry, Ian Brodie, Michael Vandergrift, Murray Brewster, Bill Matthews, and Nicolas Todd)

Canadian Relations with China in 2019

January 21, 2019

(feat. Colin Robertson, Richard Fadden, and Hugh Stephens)


Revers de la diplomatie canadienne: «Trudeau a peur de rencontrer Poutine»

by Jérôme Blanchet-Gravel (feat. Jocelyn Coulon), Sputnik France, January 22, 2019

Huawei calls for swift resolution of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou case after reports US will go ahead with extradition request

by Sarah Zheng & Catherine Wong (feat. Stephen Nagy), South China Morning Post, January 22, 2019

Big biz: Trump’s fight for one campaign promise hurts another they care about more

by Franco Ordonez (feat. Eric Miller), Miami Herald, January 22, 2019

Managing Canada’s oil wealth

by Steve Paikin (feat. Monica Gattinger), TVO’s The Agenda, January 21, 2019

Trudeau, Freeland held 19 high-level international talks with allies on China dispute

by Peter Zimonjic & Katie Simpson (feat. Stephen Saideman), CBC News, January 21, 2019


Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 421-7th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 4K9


Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6


Phone: (613) 288-2529


Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.


© 2002-2018 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email