TORONTO — Ontario is considering using recently decommissioned hospitals as one way to temporarily house a large influx of Syrian refugees expected in the province before the end of the year.
While the federal government has pledged to take in 25,000 refugees by the end of this year, Ontario has committed to taking in 10,000 refugees by the end of next year.
Ontario doesn't yet know how many Ottawa will ask it to take before the end of the year, but the province is prepared to receive its "fair share," said Health Minister Eric Hoskins.
He and Immigration Minister Michael Chan held an ad hoc cabinet committee on Syrian refugees Tuesday during which housing, education, health and social services needs were discussed.
Ontario may need to take in and support some refugees on an interim basis before they move to other provinces or territories, Hoskins said.
The federal government is looking at housing options such as military bases, while the provincial government is looking at recently decommissioned hospitals as another option, Hoskins said.
"We have a new Humber River Hospital, for example, that moved from three sites into one," Hoskins said.
"Just yesterday the premier and I cut the ribbon on the new Oakville hospital. They'll be moving out of their existing premises. I'm not saying necessarily that's what will result ... but those are the opportunities that I think we need to look at."
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has asked for the federal government to suspend its plan to bring in 25,000 refugees in light of the attacks in Paris that left 129 dead and 350 wounded.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has said she believes it is possible to safely provide refuge for those in need while still ensuring security provisions are made.
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