Ottawa – Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says the government estimates it could take two years to deliver on its promise to bring 40,000 Afghan refugees to Canada.

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The minister said the government is facing challenges in Afghanistan and other countries where refugees have fled but trying to bring them to Canada immediately.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday, Fraser said the two-year time frame is an estimate and that hundreds of Afghan refugees are arriving in Canada weekly.

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“To the extent that we have the ability to move faster than anyone predicted, we’re going to do it as quickly as humanly possible,” Fraser said.

But he said the investigation was needed to “protect the integrity of the process of getting people here safe”, including security checks.

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The NDP has criticized the red tape imposed on desperate Afghans, with leader Jagmeet Singh telling a news conference that filling out an online form in times of crisis for Afghans fleeing the Taliban is not the right response.

Jenny Kwan, the NDP’s immigration and refugee critic, says she’s not sure Afghans hiding from the Taliban – including women and children, human rights activists and interpreters helping the Canadian military – will still be alive in two years.

Kwan said the Canadian government should do everything possible to help bring vulnerable Afghans to Canada and settle the paperwork once they are safe.

“We need to cut red tape. People’s lives are in danger right now. People’s lives hang in the balance. They cannot stand in two years’ time,” she said.

He said he has spoken to Afghans whose loved ones are being targeted by the Taliban. Some have been beaten and physically tortured, but cannot find a way out of the country so that they can go to Canada.

“They are hiding from place to place,” Kwan said.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole introduced a resolution in the Commons calling for the establishment of a special committee for the Taliban to review events in the fall of Afghanistan.

The committee will also look at Canadian efforts to evacuate its citizens trapped in Afghanistan, as well as interpreters helping the Canadian Armed Forces and other Canadian organizations.

MPs were scheduled to vote on a committee proposal Wednesday afternoon. If established, he shall have the power of hearing.

Kwan said the NDP would support the creation of a special committee, but wanted to see regular reports on government efforts to bring Afghan refugees to Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 8, 2021.