There are no plans to place government sponsored refugees in Williams Lake, said Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett Thursday.
“Premier Christy Clark said some of the refugees coming to B.C. may go into rural B.C. but she meant places like Kamloops and Kelowna where there are jobs and educational opportunities.”
Barnett said her concern with bringing refugees to the Cariboo is jobs.
“We don’t have the economic capability,” she said. “We need growth in the resource industry because it is our mainstay. I haven’t seen the technological industry grow outside of urban areas.”
Prince George Cariboo Conservative MP Todd Doherty said he has also heard concerns from constituents who want Canada to be measured in its approach to accepting refugees.
“There’s no two ways about it,” Doherty said. “The atrocities that these people are experiencing in their home countries are terrible but we have to be measured in how we go about bringing people into our country in terms of that huge amount in such a short time.”
Doherty said he would caution Prime Minister Trudeau and his team to maybe take a step back and rethink the time lines and see if there’s a different way to approach the issue.
“Yes there are three different criteria refugees have to meet, but my problem with that is the sheer volume of 25,000 that is downloaded to our regions and municipalities to be able to accept and find a way to make sure that those who are coming here are able to have all the services they demand and the quality of life they are looking for.”
There are, however, a group of residents in Williams Lake investigating the possibility of privately sponsoring one refugee family, said Sharon Taylor an immigrant settlement practitioner with the Williams Lake branch of the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society of Prince George.
“I also heard from groups in Tatla Lake and Horsefly who are organizing to bring people into their regions as well.”
Taylor said she has been hearing rumours of worries and concerns about refugees, along with some outright racism and bigotry filtering through social media in Williams Lake.
Anyone who comes to Canada as a refugee has already gone through three screening processes, including the Human Commission on Refugees, who does a thorough screening first, Taylor stressed.
“Some of them have been in camp for years, have already been screened and are looking for a safe place to go and that’s all we’re providing for them.”