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Frequently asked question

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Who is coordinating the local response to Syrian refugee resettlement?

Local settlement agencies, municipalities and community partners are working together to coordinate the local response to Syrian refugee resettlement. A variety of working groups have been formed to address issues such as housing, healthcare, education, employment and volunteers. was developed by a communications working group.

I thought Canada had committed to accepting 25,000 refugees to Canada by the end of 2015. Why the delay?

The longer timeframe will allow for the completion of the immigration process overseas, including full health and security screening. It will also allow more time to work with provincial, municipal, and other partners to ensure we are prepared to welcome and integrate these refugees properly in our communities. It will cost less than bringing in refugees more quickly, and housing them temporarily to complete processing.

How many refugees is Waterloo Region expected to take in?

The Federal government has committed to welcome 25,000 of the over four million Syrian refugees by February 2016. Waterloo Region is expected to receive more than 1,000 government assisted and privately sponsored refugees.

Why was Waterloo Region chosen to help resettle refugees?

One of six Ontario reception centres for government-assisted refugees is located in Waterloo Region. We have a long history of welcoming refugees into our community. As a result of this, we are better equipped to support these vulnerable people through the various resettlement service agencies who have experience in helping refugees. 

What other communities are accepting refugees?

The Government of Canada has created an interactive map to show other communities accepting refugees across Canada.

What's the process refugees have to go through before they arrive in Waterloo Region?

The Government of Canada will identify all 25,000 refugees to come to Canada by December 31, 2015. Of those selected, the target is to have 10,000 Syrian refugees arrive in Canada by the end of 2015, and the remainder to arrive by the end of 2016. Protecting the safety, security and health of Canadians and refugees is a key consideration in the government's five phase plan of settling in Canada.

Once they arrive where will the refugees stay?

A number of the initial refugees that are arriving will be privately sponsored which means the group or organization that has sponsored them is arranging housing for them. The government assisted refugees will be provided with temporary accommodations.

Because of the larger than normal number of refugees who will be arriving in the coming months, the Region of Waterloo and local municipalities are working with various resettlement sector organizations to secure facilities that can accommodate more refugees than Reception House (the permanent facility that receives government assisted refugees) can accommodate.

How will these refugees find permanent housing? Will they receive funding?

Region of Waterloo Housing Services, along with settlement agencies and community partners, is working to:

  • identify all housing available within our community;
  • connect potential landlords/homeowners with refugee families; and
  • provide assistance to refugees/sponsor agencies around rights and responsibilities as tenants.

Once incoming refugees arrive, they will receive government and/or private sponsorship funding, typically for a year, to help with the transition. Funding amounts for refugees are similar to Ontario Works rates, and are between $451 and $877 per month for shelter depending on family size. When sponsorship funding ends, they can apply for other sources of income, such as Ontario Works, if needed. Refugees applying for affordable housing through the Region of Waterloo will go through the same application process as other applicants and be placed on the Community Housing waitlist. Visit Region of Waterloo's Housing page for more information.

Finding affordable housing has been a challenge in communities across Canada and welcoming refugees to Waterloo Region creates an opportunity to raise awareness of these needs across all populations living with low incomes.

When will Syrian refugees start arriving?

Privately sponsored Syrian refugees could start arriving any time. The government has indicated that government assisted refugees will start arriving Dec. 15, 2015.

Who is paying for the resettlement efforts and associated costs?

The Government of Canada provides funding for the transport and screening of refugees as well as shelter, food and other assistance for their first year in Canada. They will invest up to $678 million over six years toward expediting the resettlement and ensuring integration support for Syrian refugees. Private groups, organizations and families are also sponsoring some families.

Will the refugees be screened before they arrive in Waterloo Region?

Canada's focus is on vulnerable refugees who present a very low security risk. The Refugee System in Canada ensures that health and security screening takes place overseas and includes biographic and biometric information. 

The government extended the deadline to ensure completion of this comprehensive screening process. The extra time also allows for further work with their provincial, municipal, and other partners, to ensure we are prepared to welcome and integrate these refugees properly into our communities.

How can I help?

For these refugee families to succeed in Waterloo Region it is important to have welcoming communities. There are a number of ways citizens can help including through donations of warm clothing, food, household items and money. A list of agencies taking collections and the items needed is available on the donations page.

If you have room to provide temporary or permanent housing, please visit our register housing page for details on how you can help.

Get more information on our sponsor page, if you or your community group would like to sponsor a family.

What agencies are involved in the planning and execution of this effort?

The resettlement of Syrian refugees is a community response. View the list of community agencies and partners that are working collaboratively to make this happen.