WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government promised money for Syrian refugees Thursday — up to $1.4 million for relief overseas and support programs for those who make it to Manitoba.
Premier Greg Selinger announced an immediate infusion of $200,000 for non-profit groups delivering aid to Syrians on the front lines.
Other money will be available for settlement programs and social services for refugees once they are in Manitoba. The services would include health-care programs which have been cut for refugees by the federal government, Selinger said.
“The federal government decided not to provide them health-care benefits. We are going to provide them, through our universal health care system, (and) support in schools, support in finding a job and settling in our community.”
Selinger recently announced $40,000 to help churches and non-profit groups sponsor refugees from Syria, and has called on the federal government to boost refugee numbers so that Manitoba can double the 1,500 refugees a year it currently accepts.
Robert Granke, executive director of Canadian Lutheran World Relief, said his group has been on the ground in and around Syria since 2012. He said the additional money announced Thursday will mean more shipments of humanitarian supplies to the growing masses of refugees.
“It’s included things like provision of food vouchers, renovations of shelters in host communities, provisions of essentials like hygiene kits and heaters, as well as shipments of blankets, sweaters and school kits.”