Newcomers facing first Canadian winter in need of warm clothing, authorities say

The bitter cold hasn't stopped asylum seekers from making their way to Canada, and authorities say there is a pressing need for jackets, gloves and tuques to help them cope with their first winter.

Organization will collect coats, hats, mitts for asylum seekers in Montreal, Quebec City areas

A group of refugee claimants are seen crossing into Canada last year. The Salvation Army and PRAIDA say warm winter clothes are needed for newcomers who don't have the proper attire to protect themselves from this winter's harsh temperatures. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The bitter cold hasn't stopped asylum seekers from making their way to Canada, and authorities say there is a pressing need for jackets, gloves and tuques to help them cope with their first winter. 

PRAIDA, the provincial government organization that helps claimants in their first months, and the Salvation Army are asking Quebecers to dig into their closets and give away any winter clothing they no longer use.

"Three-quarters of the asylum seekers now are coming from Africa. So you can imagine the very intense change for them," Francine Dupuis, associate executive director of the CIUSSS Centre-Ouest, which oversees PRAIDA, said Tuesday.

"They very often do not have money, and winter clothes are expensive when buy them brand new."

While the number of crossings has dipped in recent months, Dupuis said demand for outerwear remains high. 

The groups say there is an especially high demand for men's clothing. People can bring their items to Salvation Army thrift stores in the Montreal and Quebec City areas.

Exact addresses are located here.

Data made available in December by the federal government shows the RCMP stopped 1,623 people crossing the border in November, down from 1,890 in October.

The figures represent a marked drop from August, when the RCMP stopped over 5,000 people in Quebec alone as they crossed into Canada to seek asylum.

Since the summer spike, Canadian officials embarked on a massive outreach effort in the U.S. to dispel myths about the Canadian asylum system and said those efforts were bearing fruit.

With files from Daybreak and The Canadian Press