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.

Annual Defence Procurement Conference

Ottawa, Ontario

October 25, 2022


G7 Update

by Heather Hiscox (feat. Andrew Rasiulis), CBC, June 30, 2022

Inside Policy: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

by Editorial Staff (feat. Rob Huebert), MLI, June 30, 2022

Canada to upgrade Latvia battlegroup to a brigade, boost number of troops

by Editorial Staff (feat. David Perry), Kelowna Now, June 29, 2022

What slowdown? Canada's economy to top G7 on high oil, crop prices

by Julie Gordon and Rod Gordon (feat. Kevin Birn), Saltwire, June 29, 2022

Alliance renforcée

by Céline Galipeau (feat. Stefanie von Hlatky), Le Tele Journal, June 29, 2022

1.6 million public chargers needed in Canada for EV transition

by Larysa Harapyn (feat. Brian Kingston), The Financial Post, June 29, 2022

Passport? What passport?

by Martin C. Barr (feat. Andrew Griffith), Laval News, June 29, 2022

Oil production test looms for OPEC heavyweights Saudi Arabia, UAE

by Editorial Staff (feat. Ellen Wald), S&P Global, June 29, 2022

Eric Nuttall & Amrita Sen - Oil & Energy Update

by Eric Nuttall (feat. Amrita Sen), Nine Point Partners, June 29, 2022

All talk, no traction

by Maura Forest and Andy Blatchford (feat. Robert Huebert), Politico, June 29, 2022

U.S. pushes for Russian oil price ceiling. Feasible?

by Matt Levin (feat. Ellen Wald), MARKETPLACE, June 28, 2022

Russia Ukraine Update

by Susan Bonner (feat. Andrew Rasiulis), CBC Radio One, June 28, 2022

Un sommet de l’OTAN pour tenir tête à la Russie

by Marie Vastel (feat. David Perry), Le Devoir, June 26, 2022

A geopolitical alternative system of co-operation for nations

by Staff Reporter (feat. Swaran Singh), The Zimbabwe Mail, June 26, 2022

Analyst says high oil prices spurs little drilling

by Lee Harding (feat. Kevin Birn), Western Standard, June 26, 2022

It’s time for Canada to get serious about defence

by John Ibbitson (feat. James Fergusson and Rob Huebert), The Globe and Mail, June 25, 2022

Trudeau meets with Rwandan president, expands diplomatic mission in Kigali

by CBC Newsroom Staff (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Newroom, June 24, 2022

With New Threats Looming, Canada Commits Billions to Air Defense

by News Desk (feat. Andrea Charron), New Express News, June 24, 2022

Drop in oil prices is not a quick fix for global inflation

by Editorial Staff (feat. Amrita Sen), The National, June 24, 2022

Highs and Lows of the Spring Sitting

by Peter Van Dusen (feat. Andrew Griffith), Prime Time Politics, June 24, 2022

Oil Incurs Second Weekly Loss As Analysts Differ On Inflation, Demand

by Ship and Bunker News Team (feat. Amrita Sen), Ship And Bunker, June 24, 2022


Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9


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


Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]


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


© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001


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