The Liberal government’s initiative to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees from the Middle East to Canada cost the country’s taxpayers nearly $385 million, government statistics released today show.
The final estimate of the cost of relocation program shows that in 2015-2016, the federal government spent $384.7 million on the Syrian resettlement initiative, approximately $70.3 million less than planned.
Lower than expected costs for transportation and overseas processing, in addition to unused contingency funds and the fact that there was no need to activate interim lodging sites urgently prepared on Canadian Forces bases all contributed to the government coming under budget, officials said.
In addition, federal departments absorbed about $81 million in expenditures within their existing budgets.
Federal government statistics show that over the last year Canada has welcomed 34,696 Syrian refugees as of Nov 13, 2016.
The majority of these refugees, 18,156, were in the government-assisted category, which means the federal government paid full costs of their resettlement and integration in Canada.
Another 12,988 Syrian refugees came under the privately sponsored refugee category, where refugees are sponsored by relatives, friends or community members, who shoulder the cost of their relocation and resettlement in Canada.
And 3,552 Syrian refugees came under the blended visa program that combines elements of both government-assisted and privately sponsored programs.