This post has been updated.
Canada’s new Liberal government unveiled today (Nov. 24) a plan to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees into the country in fast-track mode. Although the government initially planned to admit all of the refugees until the end of the year, it moved the deadline to February.
The plan has already raised controversy, as reports suggested Canada would only accept women, children and families. Single men will be excluded due to security concerns, Canadian broadcaster CBC reported Monday, citing unnamed sources. In a government briefing Tuesday, officials told reporters that the country would admit single gay men.
The refugees from camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan will be flown in and temporarily housed in military bases, as well as abandoned hospitals and hotels. They will arrive in Toronto or Montreal, to then be sent to one of 36 host cities across the country.
The total cost of the plan will be $678 million million over six years.
Following the reports Thomas Mulcair, head of the National Democratic Party pointed out that excluding single men would potentially prevent people who were deeply harmed by the war from coming to Canada. “While security concerns remain of vital importance, will a young man who lost both parents be excluded from Canada’s refugee program?” he asked. Will a widower who is fleeing [ISIS] after having seen his family killed be excluded?”
Canada has already started its robust effort, screening a 100 people daily over the past six weeks on the ground in Lebanon, on top of the UN vetting process. The country is also preparing its military bases, asking soldiers to make room for the newcomers, and planning how to support the traumatized Syrians.