Government bill for welcoming Syrian refugees expected to near $80 million by March
Douglas Quan | December 14, 2015 | Last Updated: Dec 15 10:36 PM ET
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The federal government wants to book a swath of hotel rooms in Toronto and Montreal to accommodate the influx of Syrian refugees expected over the next several weeks.
Between now and March, Ottawa needs 300 rooms daily in each of the two cities to house about 600 refugees per night, according to a notice posted Friday on a government procurement website. Suppliers will also be expected to provide meals.
The length of stays will vary: some will leave the next morning, others will need “two or more nights.”
“As we gear up for more arrivals, we want to ensure that we have the necessary hotel rooms to accommodate,” said Nancy Chan, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Chan said the government expects to spend $61 million to $77 million on overnight hotel accommodations and other activities to welcome refugees when they arrive.
Leah Hennel/Postmedia NewsSyrian refugees arrive at the Calgary International Airport on Dec. 11, 2015.
The government has said it plans to invest $678 million over six years toward the resettlement and support of Syrian refugees.
On Monday, Immigration Minister John McCallum said Ottawa was “working very hard” to meet its pledge to resettle 25,000 refugees by the end of February, including 10,000 by the end of the year.
A Royal Jordanian Airlines flight with more than 200 people is expected to land in Toronto on Tuesday.
While most of the refugees who have arrived so far were privately sponsored by family members or community groups, more government-assisted refugees are expected in the coming days.
Privately sponsored refugees will typically continue travelling to their destination community either as soon as they land or the next day, Chan said. Government-assisted refugees could face delays getting to their destination communities.
“If their destination community is not yet ready to receive them, their onward travel could be delayed up to a few weeks. Until communities are ready to receive them, most will be accommodated in interim lodging sites,” Chan said.
Six sites have been identified at Canadian Forces Bases Kingston, Valcartier, Meaford, Petawawa, Trenton and Borden. If activated, the sites would be run jointly by the Red Cross and the federal government.
According to the government solicitation notice, the hotels that would provide immediate accommodation must be within 10 kilometres of the airports in Toronto and Montreal. Bidders must be willing to set aside at least 50 rooms per night from Dec. 21 to Feb. 29. Each room will be expected to house up to four people, including children.
Hotels will also be expected to provide up to three meals a day.
“Note that it would be beneficial to Canada, for the contractor to have halal meal options available for refugees,” according to the document.
It states the government will reimburse up to $15 per person for breakfast, $16 for lunch and $30 for dinner.
Hotels must ensure that access to mini-bars, movie rentals, long-distance calls and other pay services are disabled.
The government is also asking suppliers set aside rooms for two government representatives who will be onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the duration of the bookings.
With files from The Canadian Press