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Immigration Minister John McCallum gives a bear to Syrian refugee Minisa at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on February 29, 2016.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Staffing will be boosted at Canadian visa offices in Jordan and Lebanon to expedite the processing of Syrian refugee applications.

Immigration Minister John McCallum's office confirmed on Thursday that the government will increase resources at the overseas visa offices as part of its commitment to resettle 10,000 privately sponsored Syrian refugees by the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017.

When asked how many additional staff will be dispatched to the visa offices in Jordan and Lebanon, Mr. McCallum's press secretary, Camielle Edwards, said the details have not been finalized. She said they will be revealed by the end of next week.

More than 500 government staff were assigned to overseas offices to help with processing during the height of the government's efforts to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February.

Once the government reached that goal, it slowed to a normal processing rate and placed a limit on the number of privately sponsored Syrian refugee applications accepted this year. The move prompted a public outcry from sponsorship groups that were told they would have to wait months longer than expected to meet the Syrians they sponsored.

The minister responded to those concerns last week by extending the period in which privately sponsored Syrian refugee applications would have priority to March 31. Some sponsors wanted the government to return to its pre-Feb. 29 processing pace.

Former Toronto mayor John Sewell, who is highly involved in the refugee sponsorship community, met with the Minister on Thursday, and said he reiterated the need for increased resources overseas to deal with the influx of Syrian refugee applications.

"There are all these sponsorship groups that are all set and with that amount of goodwill, the government should not be trying to push those people off," he said.

Leen Al Zaibak, a board member of Lifeline Syria, welcomed the government's decision on Thursday. " I think it's a testament to the goodwill of the government as well as the will and the pressure that the Canadian public has put on it."

Lifeline Syria asked the government to allocate more resources to speed up processing of Syrian refugees. The group is also calling on the government to remove caps on applications for privately sponsored Syrian refugees for 2016 and increase the number of refugees processed through a visa stream that blends government and private sponsorship.

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