POLITICS

Suppliers For Syrian Refugee Welcome Kits Kept Secret For Security Reasons

12/15/2015 10:00 EST | Updated 12/15/2016 05:12 EST
The government is taking "exceptional measures" to provide welcome kits to Syrian refugees, but the suppliers of goods and services will be kept secret for security reasons.

Remi Lariviere, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, said procuring the items to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees is being done as "efficiently and cost-effectively" as possible. But details around costs will not be disclosed.

"Given the security implications of this initiative, the government of Canada, as per the National Security Exception, will not disclose the identity of any supplier or the location of where the work will be done," he said.

justin trudeau refugees

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets and gives winter clothes to Syrian refugees 16 month-old Madeleine Jamkossian. (Photo: Nathan Denette/CP)

The government website says the exception can be invoked to exclude Canada from international trade agreement obligations for security reasons. 

Upon arrival at welcome centres, the refugees receive:

- Parkas/jackets for youth and adults.

- Two-piece snow suits for kids.

- One-piece snow suits for infants.

- Tuques, mitts/gloves, socks and snow boots for all from infants to adults.

- Bag with a maple leaf design.‎

- Parks Canada tuque.

- Children's books.

- Copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in English and French.

- National Film Board DVD, which includes short films for all ages without words‎.

The welcome packages were developed by Canadian Heritage, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Parks Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the National Film Board.

Michelle Rempel, the Conservative critic for immigration, refugees and citizenship, called it "bizarre" that the government would use security as a reason to "sole-source" a contract for parkas.

She said it's another example of the government not providing enough details, and that there are many questions around the procurement of other services, from housing to consulting, to language training.

'Get it right,' Rempel says

"We all want to help, but we want to get it right," she said, calling for more accountability.

On Monday, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum announced another 214 refugees will arrive in Toronto on Tuesday, by chartered flight. The first 163 arrived in Toronto last Thursday night by government aircraft, followed by a second flight touching down in Montreal on Saturday with 161 refugees.

Along with the welcome kits, refugees are also provided with written information throughout the process about Canada, and what they can expect upon arrival.

According to the department, all 25,000 refugees targeted to arrive in Canada by the end of February will receive the same kit to help integrate the newcomers into Canadian society.

"For this emergency humanitarian effort we are taking exceptional measures to speed up our procurement processes to provide goods and services essential to the wellbeing of the refugees and to the success of Canada's efforts while obtaining the best value for Canadians," Lariviere said.

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