The federal government’s announcement that it will not meet its deadline to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year has come as welcome news for staff at Immigration Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS).
ISANS operations director Gerry Mills says they usually help about 200 refugees in the province every year. Preparing for the surge of refugees has proven more difficult.
“We have all sorts of scenarios on numbers, but it could be times two, four, five, 10 - however many," said Mills.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday the country will now admit 10,000 refugees by the end of the year, with an additional 15,000 resettled by the end of February, 2016.
Refugees will arrive in Toronto and Montreal, then be sent to 36 destination cities – including Halifax.
Following a 10 minute debate, city council agreed to assure the province and the federal government that Halifax is ready and willing to take in refugees.
Mayor Mike Savage isn’t sure what the cost would be, but says that’s currently not the point.
“It would be impossible to say what the cost is, but some of it I don't think is costly at all, it's just a matter of moving resources around or actually opening our arms to people who need the help,” said Savage.
Mills says she’s received hundreds of emails offering everything from cash to accommodations.
Immigration lawyer Elizabeth Wozniak says the outreach has kept everything in perspective.
“We bring lots of vulnerable people and refugees in every year,” said Wozniak. “We bring lots of people in many different immigration categories, and so I think it's something Canada is good at, and I think it's something we should be proud of."
ISANS is still seeking a finalized number of how many Syrian refugees will arrive in Halifax.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.