Syrian refugee crisis: How Canada can help

The National Union of Public and General Employees joins with its sisters and brothers in the labour movement in calling for greater assistance for the Syrian refugees.

Ottawa (04 Sep. 2015) — Sadly, it took the picture of a dead three-year-old boy lying on the beaches of Turkey to bring home the tragic reality of the Syrian refugee crisis. Yet, this crisis has been with us since 2011 as the civil war in Syria led millions to flee their homes and some four million to become actual refugees, mostly in neighbouring countries.

As attested by the flow of refugees now seeking asylum in Europe, the situation is becoming ever more untenable, and too many displaced Syrians are willing to risk their lives to find a proper haven.

Canada must play a humanitarian role in the crisis

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) joins with its sister unions in the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) in calling on the Canadian government to respond with means commensurate to the exceptional nature of this crisis.

"Notwithstanding the current federal government's claims, Canada can and must do more," said NUPGE's National President James Clancy.

Clancy goes further and says that "our government should start by immediately pledging a minimum of 10,000 government-assisted resettlement places for Syrians to be brought to Canada."

Remove barriers to supporting refugees

The CLC and its affiliates also call on the federal government to support the solidarity efforts of private citizens and organizations by eliminating the barriers to private sponsorship of refugees.

This includes the restoration of the full Interim Federal Health coverage and lifting of the documents requirement for Group of Five sponsorships.

Clancy said that "Canadians who want to help in this crisis should have a government willing to assist them, not put up barriers by adding more red tape."

Canada's trade unions are committed to establishing a special fund with the Canadian Council for Refugees to help support the settlement of Syrian refugees in Canada.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 111 district labour councils.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE