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First wave of Syrian refugees arriving late next week

By Samantha Reed [1]

BELLEVILLE – The first wave of Syrian refugees are expected to arrive in Canada late next week.

The government posted a federal tender [2] on Monday looking for airlines to transport refugees from U.N. camps in Jordan and Turkey to Canada.

The document stated Dec. 10 as the date flights will start.

Airports are also preparing for the arrival of refugees, with Toronto Pearson International Airport tweeting they are reopening a little-used terminal for the refugees.

An estimated 271 Syrian refugees [6] have already arrived in Canada. This is all part of the government’s plan to bring 25,000 refugees into the country by the end of February 2016. But the number of refugees could grow.

“The number of refugees could be an upwards of 30,000 to 50,000. That’s not yet in the official plan, but based on the discussions we’ve been having, it’s likely to be in that order,” federal minister of immigration, John McCallum, said on Tuesday.

The Canadian Armed Forces are preparing to accept 6,000 refugees at bases in Ontario and Quebec, including those at Trenton, Borden, Kingston, Petawawa, Valcartier and the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre.

An estimated 950 refugees will be coming to Trenton, according to media reports. The government has yet to confirm this number.

The refugees staying there will be housed in barracks typically used by cadets in the summer. Crews are currently winterizing them and installing heaters.

Agencies across the country are working hard to prepare for refugees, including Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.

Eric Serwotka, the unit’s director of health protection, said preparation for the refugees started last week.

“We have five teams, but if we need more bodies we’ve had conversations with neighbouring health units, and they might be able to contribute,” he said.

Refresher courses and additional training have also been added to the preparation list, along with cultural training awareness. He said the most important thing is that the health unit is prepared if refugees come to the base.