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Discounted apartments across western Canada to house some of the thousands of Syrian migrants

Mainstreet Equity joins wave of businesses helping Syrian refugees

CEO Bob Dhillon says his own immigrant experience motivated him to join wave of businesses offering support

The Canadian Press Posted: Nov 25, 2015 4:14 PM MT Last Updated: Nov 26, 2015 2:22 PM MT

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Business sponsorship of refugees 5:44

Calgary-based Mainstreet Equity Corp. has offered at least 200 discounted apartments across western Canada to house some of the thousands of Syrian refugees coming to Canada — becoming the latest in a stream of businesses and entrepreneurs countrywide stepping up to help.

Real estate companies are contributing apartments, airlines are offering seats and individual business leaders are chipping in cash.

Mainstreet’s offer Wednesday follows a similar one last week by fellow Calgary-based Boardwalk Rental Communities to provide 350 apartments across the Prairies and in Montreal, and Westbank Corp.’s donation of 12 fully furnished and stocked apartments in downtown Vancouver.

Bob Dhillon, the CEO of Mainstreet, said his experience immigrating to Canada from war-torn Liberia with his family in the 1970s helped motivate him to assist the refugees.

‘I can relate to what these guys are going through. They’re going through turmoil, hardship, a difficult time, and if we can make their lives easier on their entry to Canada, why not?’– Mainstreet Equity CEO Bob Dhillon, who immigrated to Canada from  Liberia

“I can relate to what these guys are going through. They’re going through turmoil, hardship, a difficult time, and if we can make their lives easier on their entry to Canada, why not?” Dhillon said in an interview.

“I think how we made this country so beautiful is to open our hearts up at times like this.”

The company says it hasn’t finalized what kind of discount will be provided, but said it could include temporarily waiving the rent or offering the discounted rate for a longer period of time.

David McIlveen, director of community development at Boardwalk, says his company will be offering discounts of $150 a month for the first year, similar to what it offers in its other affordable housing programs.

“We follow the news like anybody else, and we knew there was a need,” said McIlveen.

Following the government’s revision of its refugee plan Tuesday, Canada is set to resettle 10,000 refugees by the end of the year, with another 15,000 set to arrive by the end of February 2016.

Earlier this month, Calgary-based charter airline Enerjet said it would make its fleet of aircraft available to the government to assist with refugee resettlement and Air Canada offered to help ferry refugees to Canada.

 

 

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Welcoming the Syrians

CBC News Posted: Nov 27, 2015 6:00 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 27, 2015 6:15 PM ET

Many Canadians are stepping up to welcome Syrian immigrants in their communities.

Among them are businesses who are preparing to offer discounts on the basic needs of new arrivals.

Shayna Plaut, a research fellow at the Simon Fraser University’s school for international studies, says there’s another reason to welcome new immigrants. Businesses may be glad of a fresh pool of labour.

“We’re talking about people with the skills that we are often seeking, to be able to bring up to Northern Canada or to other areas that aren’t the major populations centres,” she said.

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Annoying robocalls, underpaid PhDs & welcome Syrian immigrants: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP

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