TORONTO – The ongoing Syrian crisis has sparked a possible new settlement program backed by Councillor Joe Cressy.

“The refugee crisis is not just a Middle Eastern issue, it’s not just European issue, it’s a global humanitarian issue and all of us have a role to play, including our city,” Cressy said.

“We have a history – and a proud history – of opening our borders and our doors in times of crisis and this program will help us establish and do just that.”

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The settlement program would see pre- and post-settlement supports for refugee arrivals put in place, using city departments like Toronto Public Health as well as facilities and resources.

“Prior to their arrival, the city would put into place an inter-agency task force that would work with organizations like Lifeline Syria and the Canadian Red Cross to coordinate arrival,” Cressy said.

“After arrival, it will be a range of supports that it will bring to bear, from employment support, to housing support, to health support related to dental care and psychological treatment.”

READ MORE: 5 things the Canadian government can do to immediately help Syrian refugees

The report is seeking the approval of a one-time $600,000 infusion from the city’s Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve to fund the settlement program.

The $600,000 cost would, in part, cover a possible assurance fund that would cover start up costs for refugees if a sponsor experiences change of financial circumstances and are unable to continue to support the refugees.

“These are bonds that are put into place to backstop private sponsors,” the councillor said.

“If you are a private sponsor you have to put out money. If you suddenly don’t have the financial means, we don’t want the refugees to suffer, so it’s looking at creating assurance bonds.”

READ MORE: ‘No hope’ of family reunion, says Syrian refugee living in B.C.

Cressy hopes to see a strong show of support for the report from the executive committee.

“Refugees are coming to Toronto and we have to be prepared to support them.”

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