Puslinch councillors are ready to help those affected by the Syrian refugee crisis – but not through tax dollars.
It was a quick decision on Sept. 16 as councillors viewed documents from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Correspondence from AMO president Gary McNamara stated “Like you, I have been deeply affected by the disturbing images and stark realities of the Syrian refugee crisis. It is a situation that cries out for compassion and action.”
McNamara said AMO is challenging all of its member municipalities to donate at least $100 to aid in the international effort to resettle Syrian refugees in safe countries.
“We hope to raise at least $40,000. This goal will help save two families and if we raise a greater amount, we can help save more families,” McNamara said, noting donations can be made by cheque and forwarded by Oct. 2.
“I know how municipal governments in Ontario rally to help one another and their neighbours,” he said.
“I implore you to accept this challenge and donate to this worthy cause. It is one small way we can help ease the suffering of others through our financial contributions.”
AMO will donate all of the proceeds to Lifeline Syria, an organization seeking to resettle and integrate 1,000 Syrian refugees in Ontario over the next two years, reuniting them with their families.
Puslinch Mayor Dennis Lever pointed out the federal government is involved and there are private sector organizations whose donations are matched by the “feds.”
“I’m thinking if we want to do something, it might be better if each councillor kicked in $20 rather than using tax money,” said Lever.
Councillor Matthew Bulmer said, “I would gladly have it docked from my next pay cheque.” He added, “these are things we believe in, but we should not ask our residents to pay for our beliefs.”
Lever and councillors Ken Roth and Susan Fielding agreed to support the cause. Councillor Wayne Stokley was absent, but Fielding said she was certain he would say “yes.”
Lifeline Syria helps to recruit, train and match private refugee sponsors in Ontario with Syrian refugees approved for resettlement by the federal government. Sponsors include organizations, individuals or groups of individuals such as faith-based groups.
The Ontario government has provided seed funding to Lifeline Syria to support its work but it is reliant on public donations to fulfill its mandate. More information about the organization and the initiative can be found on the Lifeline Syria website.