These Quebecers lined up for days for a shot at sponsoring refugees
MONTREAL -- The Quebec government is now taking applications to sponsor refugees -- but with a cap on how many will be accepted, some people have waited in line for days to reserve a spot.
Photos sent to CTV News of the waiting room at the Immigration Ministry in downtown Montreal over the weekend showed numerous people sitting and waiting for their turn. The government began accepting the applications on Monday morning.
Sylvain Thibault said he’s trying to sponsor two people.
“About 40 years ago, my family sponsored two families from Cambodia,” he said. “It was a very important moment in my life.”
The province will accept 750 applications, divided into several groups. The bulk are dedicated to organizations and a maximum of 100 applications are reserved for individual groups of two to five people.
Thibault said that’s not enough.
“The people that arrived yesterday morning were almost too late already,” he said. “The quota is quite low.”
Hazem Sharaf is looking to sponsor two of his in-laws who fled Syria to a neighbouring country.
“They’ve been living there for quite a few years now,” he said. “They basically cannot go back to Syria.”
Sharaf said he’s ninth in line but that’s not a guarantee his application will be accepted.
“We know it might be long until the ministry goes through all these applications and determines who’s going to be the first 100 applications that meet the criteria,” he said.
Applicants must pay a courier to submit the documents, which could cost hundreds of dollars.
Thibault said that money could be better spent elsewhere, especially as the family he hopes to sponsor waits in a Ugandan refugee camp.
“With $600, they can do a lot with that,” he said.
The Quebec government said it allowed potential applicants to wait inside starting on Friday so they wouldn’t be out in the cold and that after this selection process a review of the procedures will take place.
Late on Monday, Quebec's Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said it's obvious improvements need to be made.