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Liberals reach resettlement goal as 25,000th Syrian refugee arrives in Canada

Syrian refugees arrive at the Pearson Toronto International Airport in Mississauga, Ont., on Dec. 18.

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

The 25,000th Syrian refugee has arrived in Canada, two days ahead of the Liberal government's commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrians by the end of the month.

A plane carrying the 25,000th Syrian refugee landed in Montreal Saturday night, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum's spokesperson Camielle Edwards.

Monday marks the deadline for the government's pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February.

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During last year's federal election campaign, the Liberals promised to resettle 25,000 government-assisted refugees by the end of 2015. However, in November – less than a month into the government's mandate – Mr. McCallum extended that deadline by two months to the end of February, and announced that privately-sponsored Syrian refugees would also count towards the goal of resettling 25,000.

Dozens of flights carrying Syrian refugees have landed in Toronto and Montreal over the past few months and are scheduled to continue arriving on Monday.

Now that the government has met its commitment, the resettlement process will slow down, Mr. McCallum said last week.

Canada will continue to accept Syrian refugees throughout the year. While the minister has previously said the government hopes to settle a total of 35,000 to 50,000 by the end of 2016, he said the exact number – "in that ballpark" – will be outlined in the government's annual immigration targets, expected by March 9. Out of that total, 25,000 are expected to be government-sponsored refugees. The remainder will arrive as private sponsors or through a blended private– and government-sponsorship process.

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