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Local chamber urges government to reduce red tape to welcome more immigrants, refugees


TRURO - The local chamber of commerce is urging all levels of government to streamline immigration and refugee services with a focus to increase settlement in rural areas.

For 148 years, Canada has been a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees from around the globe. However, for many refugees the dream of seeking safe asylum while attempting to escape violence in their home countries is ending, tangled in bureaucratic red tape.

"Nova Scotians have expressed a desire to increase the number of immigrants allowed to enter the province each year," said Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce president Andrew Lake in a press release. "History has shown the contribution of immigrants to the culture and economy of the province to be invaluable.

"Unfortunately, barriers to immigration as demonstrated through the recent Iraq and Syrian refugee crisis further highlights this country's need for immigration reform."

Recent media reports have captured images and stories about the plight of hundreds of thousands of Syrians attempting to flee their homeland ravaged by war often ending in tragic circumstances.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency website there is an estimated 16.7 million refugees around the world.

Nova Scotia recently donated $50,000 to support the Syrian refugee relief effort. While Lake applauds the provincial government for offering support on behalf of Nova Scotians, he would like to see greater collaboration by provincial and federal governments aimed at reducing wait times for processing refugee applications for resettlement removing people from harm's way.

He points out that community based organizations such as the Colchester Immigration and Refugee Partnership, supported by local churches, has hosted a number of refugees while offering support that has encouraged them to remain and build new lives in this region.

Truro and surrounding area has the greatest retention rate of refugees in Atlantic Canada.

Lake urges the federal government to expand immigration and refugee services focused on ensuring there is a regional strategy to fairly apply resources required to meet settlement needs for newcomers in all regions of the country.

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