Federal funding for Syrian refugees is set to run out this month.
That means about 1100 refugees who landed in Saskatchewan last year will either have to support themselves or fall back on provincial government assistance.
“A majority of the Syrian refugees are unemployed to work on their language abilities,” said Immigration lawyer Haidah Amirzadeh. “A lot of them are worried they won’t be able to live on only government assistance, so they’re trying harder to now get a job.”
The province expects roughly 250 families will transition into provincial programs and services over the next four months.
“Which programs and services could vary as the needs of each individual family may not be the same, and that will be part of determining how best we can assist,” the province said in a statement.
This current fiscal year, federal settlement and resettlement program investments in the province include $30 million for settlement services and resettlement assistance, which is up 16 per cent over the prior year.
“Everybody is pretty much happy and settled beside’s the cold weather,” joked Amirzadeh.
Another $734,000 was added to language services to generate 315 new language training seats to help Syrian refugees learn English.
“Language definitely plays a big role in finding a job and they’re still learning to speak english,” Amirzadeh said. “Providing more resources for language programs would be very important.”
The first refugees touched down at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Dec. 10, 2015. From there, many moved on to new cities around the country.
“Saskatoon has been very welcoming to the Syrian community,” Amirzadeh said. Saskatoon has 468 Syrian refugees and three babies have been born.
-with files from Sarah Mills, John