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Refugee Welcome, Resettlement and the Business Community

#WelcomingRefugees: 26,506 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada since November 4, 2015

These numbers include:

  • 15,070 government-assisted refugees
  • 2,282 blended visa office-referred refugees
  • 9,154 privately sponsored refugees

Canada's missions overseas continue to process Syrian refugee cases as quickly as possible. As a result, Syrian refugees continue to arrive in Canada as part of the ongoing resettlement efforts. 

Canadians have been touched and motivated to assist this group of refugees. Desperate and often tragic circumstances reported daily in the media have moved people. Continuing desperate attacks of terrorism around the world have only served to strengthen the feeling that we “must do something”.

Join the interactive dialogue on "Employing Refugees"

Toronto, 30 May 2017
(for employers and business organisations only)
See agenda.


Where have the refugees gone?

The Canadian government provides settlement and resettlement services through several hundred IRCC-funded service provider organizations in large and small communities across Canada. The map below shows the 36 communities where there is an existing Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) service provider organization.

Many of the 25,000 Syrian refugees that have arrived in Canada are government-assisted refugees (GARs) and will initially go to those 36 communities. Upon arrival in these communities, refugees will receive immediate and specialized service supports. Then they will be settled into permanent accommodation either in those cities, or in surrounding communities where they will have access to settlement service providers.

Many other refugees will be privately sponsored by organizations and groups of Canadians. These refugees will go to a wide variety of communities, large and small, across the country where their sponsors are located. The map below also shows communities where refugees have arrived as well as communities where private sponsors have put forth an application for a Syrian refugee that is currently being processed but has not yet received a decision.

Take a look at a map of Canada that indicates where refugees have been destined.

How can I help right now?

The government of Canada has an excellent dedicated website:  #WelcomeRefugees 

The news is filled with stories of families and groups wishing to help. Currently, what is most in need is money – money that can help provide much-needed assistance to settlement services as they are needed. You may feel that sending clothing or furniture is a good idea, but sending goods can become a logistical issue for organizations not used to the receipt of such things.

In the coming days, refugees will need access to housing, health care, schooling, language training, skills training/upgrading and more. The monies that you donate will enable the proper agencies to engage in these early resettlement activities. If you have local service agencies that work with immigrants, these might be a good place to start; there are also national agencies that are looking for volunteers and sponsors. For more information, please visit their website or call 1-844-61 SYRIA (1-844-617-9742, TTY: 1-800-465-7735).

Helping build awareness is a valuable thing to do in your community. Two chambers of commerce have done just that.

The London Chamber of Commerce CEO Gerry Macartney penned an opinion piece in the local newspaper.

The Regina Chamber of Commerce CEO John Hopkins has done the same in his local paper.

While the initial target of 25, 000 Syrian refugees has been met, many more are expected by the end of 2016. This also does not preclude the regular flow of refugees from other countries. More will need assistance and groups within your community may wish to sponsor additional refugees. More details are available here.

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Resettlement and Integration

As the refugees resettle and take the first steps towards becoming Canadians, they will need training and, ultimately, jobs.

As Canada’s business community, we urge you to start considering how, in your own businesses and communities, you could welcome new employees and provide them with the training and skills they will need to fully integrate into Canada’s communities and contribute to our development.

A large portion of this group of refugees will be youth – 15 years of age and under. We owe it to Canada’s future to engage these youth from the get-go. They will become our future workers and leaders.

Chambers of commerce and boards of trade across Canada are already engaged in working with their settlement agencies. More are wondering how they can be part of the welcoming committee.

Canada has an opportunity on its hands. How we respond, sets the stage for the years ahead.

An interactive search for Newcomers Services can assist in finding free services for immigrants to Canada that can include:

  • language assessments and classes
  • help finding a job
  • help with daily life such as finding a place to live and filling out forms and applications
  • information about community services such as mentoring.



Numerous groups across Canada have a long and successful history of working with refugees. Many have created useful tools that you and/or your members may wish to access. Tools such as:

  • An infographic which briefly outlines the phases of what will happen with these refugees. #WelcomeRefugees
  • A webinar created by AMSSA (Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC) called Escaping Conflict: The Syrian Refugee Crisis Explained
  • On December 1, Perrin Beatty, President & CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce lead a discussion on private sector involvement at the Governor General's Forum on Refugees. The event was broadcast live on CPAC, please feel free to watch the event: Video
  • An infographic shared by Ignite Fredericton regarding the journey of a refugee to Canada.


What can business do?

Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to help refugees. As refugees begin to settle into Canadian communities, there are many things the business community can do - everything from hosting events, donating services and goods where needed and employing refugees in their operations.

To find inspiration from what some businesses have already done for Syrian refugees, IRCC has set up a website - why not check it out? If you, or a business in your community, have a story to share, tell the rest of Canada! Send the details of your corporate donation to 



Your business or organization, or you alone, may want to contribute to the ongoing efforts to support refugees. There are different ways to help refugees and many Canadians are asking how they can help. You can make a difference in someone’s life by donating to organizations that are helping those affected by this crisis.

Donate to help in Canada

New refugees will be in need of almost everything, including furniture, clothing, food, dishes and much more as they resettle in Canada. Canadians can help by donating money to local organizations such as Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) that help support newcomers in Canada. If you want to find out if an organization is a registered Canadian charity that can issue tax receipts, check the charities listings.

Local donations can go a long way. Stay aware of your local news as your community may have specific groups or organizations that can use your donations to help those in need. Not sure where to start? In Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Ontario you can call 211 toll-free to find out how you can offer support for refugees. 211 is Canada's primary source of information on government and community-based health and social services.

Find an organization in your area to see how you can get involved.

You may also wish to consider donating through these agencies:

Community Foundations of Canada

Chambers of commerce might also like to pursue the network of community foundations. Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) has a network of its own that includes 191 community foundations. You can investigate where these foundations are across the country here.

CN was early on one of the biggest supporters of this government initiative. They have teamed up with CFC on projects across the country; their donation of $5 million is being allocated to projects through CFC.

You may also wish to steer community donations through the Community Foundation in your region.

Red Cross
The Red Cross provides support to government responses, especially in emergency situations. We have hundreds of agreements with municipal and provincial governments to provide emergency social services ( e.g. lodging, clothing, food, personal services, registration and tracking of family members). The Red Cross can count on a vast network of 20,000 volunteers and 3,000 staff across Canada.  

The Canadian Red Cross has the capacity to respond to all kinds of disasters, big and small – from a single house fire (e.g. family of 4) to larger disasters like floods (e.g. Calgary floods, over 100,000 impacted) as well as man-made disasters (e.g. Lac-Mégantic) and mass influx of refugees (1999, Kosovo refugees and current operation to resettle 25,000 refugees).

For more information on the current refugee resettlement operation, please visit

Donations: The Red Cross donation page is active and can be accessed here.

Please note: The Canadian Red Cross is not in a position to accept in-kind donations of food, clothing and other items. It has been our experience that these items may not be the ones that refugees require. The processing, storage and transportation costs are a challenge as well. Other agencies may accept other forms of donations. However, should any businesses wish to donate significant amounts of relief supplies, please contact Tom Scinto at

United Way Centraide Canada Supports Syrian Refugee Settlement
Across the country, United Way Centraide has always done its part to ensure that refugees who come to Canada get the best start in their new life. As a major supporter of community based settlement organizations, United Way invests over $10 million annually in vital programs and services, helping to support more than 170,000 immigrants and refugees in our Canadian communities. This vital settlement system is the foundational infrastructure needed to successfully welcome and help Syrian refugees build new lives in Canada.

There are more than 100 local United Ways Centraides who work together as a national movement in Canada. We encourage you to connect locally.

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