The Canadian government this week issued tenders, or calls for bids, seeking hundreds of hotel rooms in parts of the country where Syrian refugees can take shelter while they attempt to find permanent housing. CBC News reported Tuesday that officials were hoping to temporarily settle 450 people in 150 hotel rooms in New Brunswick, while the Star reported another tender was posted for 1,500 refugees in 500 rooms in Ontario.
In both cases, the government wrote that it would require "meals to be provided for each hotel guest, together with provisioning of associated support services to assist in providing the refugees with a comfortable and safe residential environment until they travel onwards to their final settlement destinations in Canada," according to the documents. It noted that most refugees would need three to 30 nights in the hotel, but "time of arrival and departure will vary, with some guests arriving late at night and others leaving in the early hours of the morning for onward transportation."
The government also encouraged the hotels to offer halal meal options and Arabic interpreters.
As of Tuesday, 27,636 refugees fleeing violence in Syria have arrived in Canada or have been approved to travel there, according to a government webpage. About 23,000 have come to the nation since November on 88 flights. Canada's goal was to resettle 25,000 people, though authorities under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have hinted that this number could expand to 50,000, the Huffington Post reported.
The Global News reported that nearly half of the refugees — 48 percent — haven't settled into permanent houses. Meanwhile, hosting the refugees in hotels has proven controversial for Canadians like Brian McIssac, who told CTA News last month the Toronto Plaza Hotel asked him to move out of the room where he was living.
"Why did Mr. Trudeau bring in all these people and start throwing out Canadians into the street?” McIssac said. “I have nothing against these people, but why should we have to leave?”
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum acknowledged the challenge in a recent meeting but remained optimistic. "Nothing of this nature goes perfectly smoothly. There are always hiccups along the way, but I think it is going well in terms of helping the refugees find housing, learn English or French, get jobs," CBC reported he said.