Plans for refugees taking shape

  • Dec. 2, 2015 3:42 p.m.

Community conversations are taking place, hosted by the Immigrant Centre, to address the needs of approximately 200 Syrian refugees that are expected to be in the City by the end of February.

Frank Bauer of the Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E.) said the community is expecting between 200 and 210 government-sponsored refugees in the City in the next few months. Conversations are being held to develop solutions to issues such as inadequate affordable housing, health care needs, education needs and helping people adjust to the community.

“I’ve been impressed with the overall response of the community,” Bauer expressed.

“There are so many people who spontaneously contact us to ask, ‘Is there anything we can do to help?’ Individuals and organizations have started initiatives to help by collecting donations to help support these 200-210 refugees that we expect. I’m really impressed and I’m really happy with that.”

Last week a stakeholder meeting was held by Catholic Social Services (CSS) that provided a space to develop ideas and working groups to address issues in the community surrounding the acceptance of refugees. Red Deer is not new to accepting refugees, but this high number of refugees will require creative thinking to accommodate, officials have said.

Issues such as housing, health care, child care and more were discussed last week.

“Looking at housing, there is a problem overall with the regular number of refugees we are receiving into Red Deer – which is around 60-70 people a year. To find affordable housing is going to be a big challenge. There are low vacancy rates and the cost of housing is very high in relation to the allowances that refugees will get from the government,” Bauer said.

“Another challenge is education. If the projections are still correct that we will receive between 200 and 210 refugees out of the total of 25,000 coming to Canada, based on the family sizes and demographics of Middle Eastern families, we can except between 90 and 100 school-age kids coming to Red Deer. Trying to find a spot for them in the school system will be a challenge.”

Bauer explained as these issues arose, the meeting attendees formed groups made up of individual citizens, organizations and representatives to move forward with resolutions.

“Health is another challenge as well. There is already a shortage of family doctors, let alone family doctors who speak any Arabic,” Bauer said. “Out of these 200 refugees, it’s estimated that between 70-80 adults will need some kind of English as a Second Language (ESL) training as well. We’re filled there already.”

Bauer said from the discussion, several working groups have been formed to address some of these solutions and bring them to a reality.

He added the Immigrant Centre is receiving an impressive number of inquiries by phone, email and correspondence to their web site where people are saying, “What can I do to help?” and are wanting to provide donations.

Issues such as living accommodations, donations, and other suggestions on how to assist Syrian refugees are being channeled through the Immigrant Centre. Bauer said the agency will be one of the first notified when government-sponsored refugees enter the City.

“C.A.R.E. and CSS are registering anyone who wants to volunteer in any capacity,” Bauer said.

“They can contact us and we will put them on a list and as soon as we know more about Syrian refugees arriving, we will be in touch with these people.

“It can be in any form of help – temporary transportation, being a friendly, welcoming family or individual, any Arabic speaking people – which will be a great need – that will all be coordinated through C.A.R.E. and CSS.”

Additional information on assisting refugees can be found on the City of Red Deer web site.

Just Posted

Generals overcome hot goalie to lead series 2-0

Nolan Huysmans scores OT winner in Game 2

Alert motorist leads Innisfail RCMP to arrest

Duo charged with several separate charges

Former opioid user tells his story

Innisfail’s Keira Vander Vliet gives his take on the opioid crisis

Cow Patti Theatre Company hits the mark with Here on the Flight Path

Shows run through to March 11th at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club

WATCH: Red Deer celebrates one year out from 2019 Canada Games

Community gathers at Great Chief Park to commemorate Games milestone

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Virtue and Moir end ice dance careers with Olympic gold

Virtue and Moir’s gold medal win at the Olympics makes them the world’s most decorated figure skaters

VIDEO: B.C. deer caught obeying traffic signs

A herd of deer in Fernie, B.C. is getting attention online after stopping for a stop sign

Petition wants fundraiser dropped for family of man cleared in Boushie’s death

Group says GoFundMe is profiting from the young Indigenous man’s death

Porch lights turn on for Canadian teen behind #BeccaToldMeTo movement

New Brunswick’s Rebecca Schofield had asked her Facebook followers to perform random acts of kindness

Calgary man dies in Mexico following sudden illness

Troy Black was with his wife, Lindsay, in Puerto Vallarta when he began vomiting blood on Thursday

Virtue and Moir break their own world record

Virtue and Moir break short dance record to sit first in ice dance at Olympics

New doping charge could hurt Russia’s chance at reinstatement

Russia could lose its chance to be reinstated before the end of the Winter Olympics because of a doping charge against curling bronze medallist Alexander Krushelnitsky.

Most Read