The Liberal government will announce details tomorrow of its plan to bring in 25-thousand Syrian refugees. As many as 900 refugees a day are expected to arrive. Organizations across this region are scrambling to get ready. Housing will be the biggest piece of the puzzle for settling these refugees.

But health care and education are critical, too and those pieces of the puzzle are quickly falling into place.

At CFB Kingston today, the base is getting ready to house more than a thousand Syrian refugees.  Nearly 500 soldiers are moving out of their barracks to allow for a giant wave of refugees to move in as the federal government makes good on its promise to bring in 25-thousand refugees. 

Housing will be the biggest challenge but so, too, will health care.

That’s where hospitals like CHEO come in.  The hospital has extensive experience dealing with immigrant and refugee children and expects vast health concerns among the children after being in a camp for so long time.

‘The Syrian kids could have been exposed to food security issues, violence or sexually based violence issues,’ says Dr. Chuck Hui, a pediatric infectious diseases consultant at CHEO, ‘and so we worry about adjustment issues in addition to medical issues that haven’t been dealt with for a very long time.’

Given that most of the refugees have fled their country with little more than the clothes on their backs, the chances of them having their immunization records are slim.  So they will have to be re-vaccinated once they are done their initial medical assessments.

On the education front, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board says, it, too, is ready for an influx of children.  Twenty-four percent of the board’s current students are ESL learners, or learners of English as a Second Language, either newcomers to Canada or born here but speaking a different language at home.

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The board’s chair plans to introduce a motion at Tuesday’s meeting to welcome the Syrian refugees, ‘Many of our schools are populated by recent immigrants,’ says Board Chair Shirley Seward, ‘and that adds a wonderful cultural mosaic to our classrooms so this is a win-win for us and the refugees.’

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