I'll begin with a bit of an introduction to Humanity First, and then I'll go to what we have been doing and address some of the specific questions that are the mandate of this committee.
Humanity First is a humanitarian relief organization registered in 46 countries across six continents that has been working on development projects and responding to disasters to provide humanitarian relief since 1995. Humanity First also has a consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which is ECOSOC. We are also a sponsorship agreement holder with the Government of Canada.
Humanity First is in the forefront of privately sponsoring refugees and resettling them in Canada. Over 1,000 refugees have been successfully resettled in Canada by Humanity First since 2010. They are now gainfully employed and are positively contributing to the society.
Recently, Humanity First has been engaged in sponsoring Syrian refugees. Over 200 Syrian refugees have been successfully resettled in Canada, and hundreds more will be arriving soon.
Some of the principles of Humanity First for resettling refugees is to provide them safety with dignity, care with compassion, support with respect, accommodation with comfort, employment and training, education with hope.
The first point I would like to address is engagement of Canadian individuals and groups.
Humanity First has taken a lead role in creating synergistic relationships with various groups and the general public interested in helping refugees by engaging them in a very simplified and practical step-by-step approach for the sponsorship and resettlement process. Humanity First has taken a leading role to bring together constituent groups, individuals, co-sponsors interested in sponsoring refugees, volunteers wishing to engage in the resettlement process, donors, supporters, and religious organizations, to assist with the refugee resettlement. We have engaged Canadian individuals and groups to become part of one of the following three groups, donors, volunteers, or sponsors, or all of the three groups.
We are working with over 60 groups, each consisting of 10 to 15 individuals who got together to form a co-sponsor group, which means we are engaging about 500 to 600 volunteers who are provided training. These groups consist of doctors, lawyers, neighbours, work colleagues, students, families, ladies, alumni and sports friends. The only thing that was common in all groups was that every member of each of the groups had a passion to help refugees.
We have a very systematic and advanced training and orientation method that we provide to all of our partner groups. We have a well-established organizational structure and a cookie-cutter template that we give to our volunteers and co-sponsor groups for the sponsorship and resettlement work.
The second point is on integration challenges.
While it is quite normal and expected that newly arrived refugees will face certain challenges during their early days in Canada, we were quite prepared for it and were able to address those challenges very efficiently. One of the specific challenges that we faced and addressed was proximity to family in Canada. Humanity First is one of the very few private sponsorship organizations that actually went to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and other countries to select Syrian refugees. After the initial selections, we started getting spin-off referrals and our pool of applicants grew considerably. Unlike many other sponsorship agreement holders, over 98% of our sponsored cases did not have any family link in Canada. Due to this fact, we had to put in more resources and much more funding was needed for the resettlement work.
With reference to employment and the job market, finding jobs for Syrian refugees was a mixed experience for us. Syrian refugees who were technically skilled or unskilled labourers were the fastest to find employment compared with more educated refugees and professionals. In our experience, there were some refugees who got a job within the first week of arrival, while there are others who have not found a job even after six months. Some of the newly arrived Syrian refugees were able to find work. Actually, most of the Syrian refugees found work within the first two months of their arrival, while others found a job within four to six months. There were only a few who could not find a job and needed language training or other skill upgrades.
With reference to affordable housing, Humanity First did not face any challenges in finding suitable accommodation for Syrian refugees thanks to the generosity of our co-sponsor groups, who were willing and ready to afford rental accommodation at market rate. Our model included temporary accommodation as guests at the houses of our donors and supporters for the first few days to a maximum of two weeks, and then a move to the refugees' own rental apartments that were fully furnished by Humanity First and our co-sponsor groups.
With reference to the education of children, we did not encounter any challenges with the education of children. All Syrian refugees were successfully and immediately admitted to schools or colleges.
With reference to the English language, this was a challenge for most Syrian refugees whom we sponsored. We have encouraged them to join full-time or part-time ESL courses, and as a result, they have been quick to learn to a satisfactory level to communicate in English. As a backup, we continue to engage Arabic translators as and when needed.
With reference to medical needs, there was only a handful of individuals who had special medical needs because of their permanent disabilities or physical health and sickness. These were addressed through the IFH, the interim federal health program, provincial health coverage, and the generosity of our partner physicians, dentists, and pharmacists.
In terms of the resettlement capacity of Humanity First, due to overwhelming interest and response from the public, our capacity is only limited by the quota restrictions that are put in place by the government. We have the capacity to sponsor and resettle many more refugees. If we have more quota and if the government has the capacity to continue to process applications at a fast pace, we can sponsor many, many more refugees.
Point number four is the impact of different refugee sponsorship streams—