Canada considers housing Syrian refugees at military bases

AFP , Wednesday 3 Feb 2016

Faced with a shortage of affordable housing, Canada said Wednesday it is considering putting Syrian refugees up at military bases.

Canada has welcomed 15,685 Syrian refugees from UN camps in the Middle East since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals were sworn in last November, and expects to take in 10,000 more this month.

But several Canadian cities have asked for a break in the large influx of asylum seekers until they find suitable accommodations for the new arrivals.

Immigration Minister John McCallum described the housing problem as "significant, but manageable."

He said other cities and towns have stepped up to fill part of the gap, while several real estate developers offered the use of their rental or condo units.

As a last resort, McCallum said, two military bases in Kingston, Ontario and Valcartier, Quebec stand ready to take in refugees.

"We have not stopped (nor) slowed down at all the arrival of (refugees) at the airports. They're still arriving in large numbers as scheduled," McCallum told a press briefing.

"To the extent that we're unable to settle those who keep coming in large numbers quickly enough, we may have recourse to the military bases and that was always a part of the plan," McCallum told a press briefing.

"I think the fact we have not yet needed them is perhaps a good sign. But we are quite likely to need them before the exercise is completed," he added.

The Canadian military has made 6,000 beds available to accommodate the refugees.

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