The Immediate Settlement Service Needs of Refugees – a Study on Recently Arrived Syrian Refugees to Canada

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Pallabi BHATTACHARYYA, Department of Sociology, Canada
The purpose of this study is to investigate the settlement service needs of refugees in Canada. Baseline information was collected using a survey examining the use of settlement services of 624 newly arrived Syrian refugees in three Canadian provinces. I address the following research question, “How the resettlement capacity of the state can be used most effectively to resettle large numbers of refugees depending on the composition of families within a limited time period?” A theory of two-sided matching systems model was used to evaluate the available settlement services that each province provides to refugees and if those services match the needs of family units during their first months in Canada. Though the provinces encourage the individual localities and private organizations to participate with extra funding and support to newly arrived refugees, from a sociological standpoint, real diversities such as cultural, linguistic, racial, gendered, religious, etc., differences are compressed and homogenized through settlement policies. There are many factors such as housing issues, language acquisition problems, lack of knowledge on job hunting, etc. that require attention while matching the available resources to the individual family needs. The results indicate that there are multidimensional service constraints and certain mismatch among the services provided versus settlement needs among refugees, challenging the process of resettlement. Families with higher number of children have different needs with regards to housing, language training and childcare, whereas, families without children have different sets of needs. For example, families with small children need houses close to schools, bus stops and playgrounds, whereas families without children can live in studio apartments without these amenities. In case of single parents with small children, special quota should be made for their language class enrollment and it is the responsibility of the employment service providers to provide extra help with their job search.