What Syrian refugees can expect when they arrive in Quebec

The province is set to accept 3,650 Syrians before the end of the year. Here's what we know so far about how it will work.

Plans shaping up to welcome 3,650 Syrians expected to arrive in province by end of 2015

Two young Syrian refugee girls smile for the camera in the Zaatari Refugee Camp, near the city of Mafraq, Jordan, last month. Quebec is expected to welcome 3,650 this year. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Quebec's plans to welcome Syrian refugees are becoming clearer after a flurry of announcements today.

The province is set to accept 3,650 refugees before the end of the year and another 3,650 in 2016. 

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said the city, which will take on the bulk of the refugees in the province, is ironing out plans to make their arrival easier. 

"The City of Montreal will have a number of roles to fill," he told a news conference Tuesday.  

"That is why it is important to be involved from the start."

Here's what we know so far about how the process will work.

Airport arrival

A special terminal has been set up for Syrian refugees at Montreal's Trudeau airport.
Aéroports de Montréal offered a glimpse of its preparations on Tuesday, including a look at the temporary port of entry and reception centre that have been established to welcome the refugees at Trudeau Airport in Dorval.

Newcomers will be welcomed at gates 17 and 19, which is located away from the main terminal. The public and other passengers will not have access to the portion specifically set aside for incoming refugees.

The organization will also cover all airport fees for the flights.

The Canada Border Services Agency has set up temporary ports of entry at both the Trudeau airport and Toronto's Pearson Airport. 


Mjdi Mnaahe, his wife Wessam and their sons Tamim, 6, Saif, 4 and Mohammad, 1, (left to right) sit in their apartment Monday, November 30, 2015 in Irbid, Jordan. The Syrian refugee family is waiting for approval to immigrate to Canada. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)
Border services officers will confirm the newcomers' identities using the documents each Syrian received overseas. Immigration officials will photograph them for their Canadian documents.

Public health officials will check for signs of illness that might require quarantine. 

Individuals who pass the checks will become permanent residents of Canada. All will then continue on to a welcome centre. In Montreal, it will require a short bus ride.

The facilities include food, water, a play area for children and prayer rooms. People will receive winter clothing and get a Social Insurance Number. They'll then be taken to a local hotel for an overnight stay and a meal before beginning the next step.

After that, even bigger challenges await.


Housing units at CFB Valcartier will be used to accommodate Syrian refugees. (Cimon Leblanc/ Radio-Canada)
The biggest challenge facing the city when it comes to refugees is housing and accommodation, according to Coderre.

Montreal has started an inventory of possible affordable housing options that are up to code.

"The last thing we want to do is suggest units that are not in good condition," Coderre said.

Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, near Quebec City, is also planning to house refugees.


A subsidy of up to $15,000 is available to Quebec businesses offering work to Syrian refugees. (Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press)
Members of Quebec's business community and the Quebec government issued a joint appeal to the province's employers to help put Syrian refugees to work.

Labour Minister Sam Hamad said employers can take advantage of an existing work placement program that provides new immigrants and Canada-born visible minorities in Quebec with a first job experience.

The program, known as PRIIME, provides subsidies that help cover an employee's wages, training and other needs up to $15,000.

"It's easy, it's simple. If you are a company, you want to hire a new immigrant or refugee, you want to offer him a first work experience, the government is ready to subsidize around $15,000 in salary," Hamad said.


Montreal school boards are working to find room for the incoming child refugees. (Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)
The province's biggest school board says it is ready to welcome as many as 300 children before Christmas, and another 400 to 600 in the new year.

The Commission Scolaire de Montreal says it has been able to find space at schools around the island.

In addition, the expansion of François-de-Laval school in Cartierville will be ready Dec. 18.

That will free up 9 classes.

Lester B. Pearson School Board, meanwhile, has asked that the province waive requirements of Quebec's language law, Bill 101, so it can welcome refugees.

"We have the capacity, and we have the resources," said the board's chairwoman, Suanne Stein Day.


Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is set to provide an update on the province's health plans for Syrian refugees. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said Tuesday a vast social and medical system is in place to welcome Syrian refugees to the province.

Upon arrival, he said the refugees will be processed and given a Quebec health care card.

He said even before getting off the plane, each one has an appointment booked at a special refugee medical clinic

After that, Barrette said the newcomers will be taken into the care of their sponsors.

Integration hotline

Coderre also announced upcoming measures including an integration hotline that refugees can call seven days a week.

Those who need help or information can call 514 527-6951 from 6 a.m to 6 p.m. It will be in place until the end of 2016.

The city is also looking at striking a deal with the STM to ensure that newcomers have access to public transit on the Island of Montreal. 

With files from The Canadian Press


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