News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

November 26, 2015


The Manitoba government is rolling out a comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy to provide humanitarian relief and supports to welcome 1,500 to 2,000 refugees displaced by the crisis in Syria, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.

“Manitobans value diversity and inclusiveness, and they have made it clear that they want to do whatever is necessary to help these innocent victims of war find a better life,” said Premier Selinger.  “Welcoming refugees to Manitoba will require working in collaboration with all levels of government, as well as with settlement agencies and community organizations to find suitable housing and start the long-term settlement process.”

Manitoba’s response will be led by Manitoba Labour and Immigration with support from the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization and will be co-ordinated through the Manitoba Emergency Coordination Centre, where the capacity for planning, operations and communications already exists.

A team made up of representatives from several departments including housing and community development, education and advanced learning, multiculturalism and literacy, jobs and economy, health, family services, health and healthy living, and children and youth opportunities has been established, and will work with existing agencies and settlement services to ensure effective co-ordination and support for refugees.

Refugees will initially be housed in Winnipeg, where housing and services are available, while options for regional resettlement are explored.  The Manitoba Housing Task Force will lead on identifying suitable housing in Winnipeg and other regions, taking into account accessibility and community support in the area.  Privately sponsored refugees will go to the community where their sponsor group is located including to regional centres.

In addition, community experts are being consulted to ensure that programs on education, health and mental health, language and interpretation, and cultural competency are being lined up so the immediate health-care, psychosocial, socio-cultural, education and employment needs of families are met.  The Manitoba Immigrant and Refugee Settlement Sector Association (MIRSSA) along with settlement agencies including Welcome Place, Accueil Francophone du Manitoba, Mount Carmel Clinic, NEEDS Centre, Manitoba Start and New Journey Housing will be actively engaged throughout the process.

The Manitoba government is working with the Red Cross to establish a help line for people wanting to assist, which will be formally launched on Monday.                      

“The Canadian Red Cross has the resources and volunteers available to assist the government of Manitoba in welcoming the refugees who have been forced to flee their homes in search of a better life,” said Shawn Feely, vice-president, Manitoba Canadian Red Cross.  “We are pleased that we can work with the government and the people of Manitoba to extend to the refugees that caring hand of support that is the hallmark of this province.”

In September, the province committed $1.4 million, including $200,000 in front-line support for Syrian refugees, to:

  • provide immediate, on-the-ground humanitarian assistance to refugees in the greatest need;
  • support settlement agencies to ensure a co-ordinated response;
  • facilitate and increase the private sponsorship of Syrian refugees with local agencies and new supports;
  • support the successful integration of Syrian refugee youth through educational, employment and mental health supports;
  • ensure Syrian refugees have access to high-quality health-care services while continuing to offer health care coverage for refugees; and
  • connect Syrian refugees to employment and job training through holistic employment supports.

The premier also noted a community co-ordinator is being put in place and will work out of MIRSSA to assist with community co-ordination and capacity building efforts.

“Manitobans are well-known for their kindness and generosity, and I know that together we will make a difference in the lives of those affected by the ongoing crisis in Syria,” said Premier Selinger.  “We want every refugee to have the opportunity to build a new life and succeed here in Manitoba.”

The federal government has extended its deadline to resettle 25,000 refugees to Canada to the end of February 2016.  The number of Syrian refugees expected to arrive in Manitoba over the coming months is estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 through a combination of government and privately sponsored refugees, the premier said.

The premier said the province will continue to work closely with the federal government, Manitoba service partners and community groups to ensure refugees to Manitoba have the best start possible.

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