SASKATOON – A subsidized bus pass for refugees in Saskatoon is one step closer to reality. At a meeting of the standing policy committee on planning, development and community services last week, a group of city councillors voted to reconsider the matter.
According to committee chair Darren Hill, city council will now be reviewing this proposal at an upcoming meeting.
This, after the idea was stalled in committee last month. The changes, if brought in, could have a big effect on the city’s small but growing refugee population.
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According to the Saskatchewan Refugee Coalition, about 600 refugees come to Saskatchewan each year. Right now the largest number are from Syria, where the civil war has displaced more than half the country’s population.
This potential move to help Saskatoon’s refugees is being welcomed by local advocacy groups.
“There’s a lot of misconception about what they receive, whether it be from government or private sponsors,” says Erin Wolfson from the Saskatchewan Refugee Coalition.
“It is comparable if sometimes even less than someone on social assistance. It’s not that much money … so, absolutely, subsidized bus passes … what seems insignificant can be a quality of life question.”
This issue will be one of many being discussed Tuesday night at a forum hosted by local community groups. The event is called “Refugees Welcome: from Compassion to Action.”
Among the speakers is a Syrian refugee who’s come to share their experiences. It takes place at the Roxy Theatre at 7 p.m. CT, and all members of the public are welcome to attend.