Today, we expect the first wave of Syrian refugees to begin arriving in Canadian communities, as part of the broader federal government plan to help rescue 25,000 Syrians fleeing unthinkable acts of violence.
Mississauga has always been welcoming to refugees, and our doors are always open. As a community, we have wasted little time rolling up our sleeves, demonstrating compassion, and doing our part to help with the Syrian refugee crisis.
Back in September, my office organized a Syrian Community Summit which brought together community, faith, and business leaders all committed to addressing the Syrian migrant crisis.
An immediate action item from this meeting was to work with Lifeline Syria to set up a Mississauga Lifeline Syria Fund. The fund is up and running. It will make grants to registered charities to pay for costs associated with sponsoring and settling Syrian refugees to Mississauga and the GTA.
On October 20, we opened the doors of City Hall and invited all residents to participate in a Lifeline Syria Sponsorship Session. This information session was an important opportunity for residents to better understand how they can do their part to support the thousands of families fleeing violence.
In November, we further made available free work space at City Hall to allow Lifeline Syrian to allow for rapid-fire processing of applications of refugees, and help sponsors move ahead with bringing families to Canadian communities.
A few weeks ago, Peel Council endorsed my motion calling on the Region of Peel to urgently develop a comprehensive action plan to coordinate efforts to accommodate the influx of Syrian refugees. We need to be ready to do our part. The compassionate thing to do is to have a plan.
On December 10, we will once again host, at City Hall, a Case Information Sessions for the Syrian-Canadian community to inform them of the application process, their responsibilities as the Canadian Contacts for these refugees, and their roles in the settlement and integration process.
I also want to single out community groups, and in particular, the United Way. Our local United Way and the Region of Peel are partnering to make it easier for Mississauga and Peel families to make donations to help the Syrian refugees arriving next month. All donations, including money, clothing, food and furniture, as well as volunteer time, will be coordinated through United Way at unitedwaypeel.org/helpsyrianrefugees.
Finally, on a personal note, I want to thank the countless residents who have reached out to me and my office on ways they can help make a difference. I have always said Mississauga is a city that cares, home to thoughtful, dedicated and compassionate people who want to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.