County could help refugees settle in Lambton

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Lambton County may be getting into the refugee resettlement business.

The idea comes as the federal government plans to bring another 10,000 people to Canada from the war-torn region of Syria.

So far, local churches and community groups have been sponsoring families in Sarnia-Lambton but there have been no government-sponsored refugees in the area. A report prepared for county councillors by Margaret Roushorne, general manager of social services, says there isn’t the infrastructure in place to help federally sponsored families. And she says it is the goal of Sarnia-Lambton to attract new immigrants to the area but the federal group charged with making settlers feel at home – the Local Integration Partnership – doesn’t actively seek out people.

“We’re trying to grow our community grow our economy,” Roushornerecently told councillors. The proposal to take on the responsibility at the county level would cost about $123,000 a year with the county contributing about $39,000. “This is a matter of coordinating all that activity and coordinating it for the county.”

Roushorne says the new immigration coordinator could help between 65 and 100 people a year.

St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold was skeptical about the plan adding there are groups which do this type of work and he’s concerned the county would “compete with them.

“I would hate to have another silo built,” says Arnold. “It seems like we’re getting an awful lot of layers of bureaucracy…and that’s an awful lot of money per person to fund for services that are already there.”

The idea goes to county council during its budget deliberations March 16.

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