Backgrounder Article from  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Airport Receiving areas and Welcome Centres

New receiving areas for Syrian refugees at ports-of-entry at Toronto Pearson International Airport, and Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport are being temporarily put in place and will be operational until the end of February 2016. This will make processing at the airport as efficient and comfortable as possible for refugees who have made a long journey to their new home in Canada.  

Upon arrival, all refugees will be welcomed and processed for admission to Canada by Border Services Officers (BSO) who will confirm their identity using the documentation that refugees received following their immigration processing overseas. All customs and immigration inspections will be performed by the same BSOs. In addition, CBSA will issue Interim Federal Health Program certificates to ensure refugees have medical coverage at the earliest available point.  

Refugees will also be checked for signs of illness when they arrive in Canada, as per the Quarantine Act and treatment will be available if anyone is ill upon arrival.

The temporary ports-of-entry will be equipped with:

  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stations, where photos  will be taken for their immigration identification documents;
  • Public Health Agency of Canada quarantine officers who will assess any passenger who appears to be ill upon their arrival in Canada;
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency presence to ensure passengers do not bring in any food, plants, animals or animal related products that could affect Canada's biosecurity;
  • Waiting areas where water and food are provided; and,
  • A baggage screening area.

After completing the border services process, the refugees will be permanent residents of Canada.

All refugees will then continue on to a welcome centre. In Toronto the centre is located at the airport facility itself, while in Montreal it will be a short bus ride away.

The welcome centre is an interim step for all refugees before travelling on to their destination communities. The centres have been designed as a very short term rest stop to allow refugees to get prepared for the next step on their journey. The facilities include such things as waiting areas, food and water, play area for children and prayer rooms. 

Refugees arriving at the welcome centre will receive winter clothing, and be issued their Social Insurance Number. They will then be transported onward to a local hotel for an overnight stay to rest and have something to eat while awaiting the next step in their journey to their destination community.

Privately sponsored refugees will continue travelling the following day toward their destination community.

For those being met by their sponsors locally in Toronto or Montreal, the sponsors will receive specific information about when and where to meet the new arrivals.

Government-assisted refugees will also begin to be transported on to their destination communities in the following days. If their destination community is not yet ready to receive them, their onward travel could be delayed up to a few weeks. Until communities are ready to receive them, they will be accommodated in Interim Lodging Sites (ILS).

Six initial ILSs have been identified at Canadian Forces Bases (CFBs) Kingston, Valcartier, Meaford, Petawawa, Trenton and Borden.  If activated, CFB Kingston and Valcartier will be the first to accept refugees as they have suitable accommodations, and are closest to large urban centres, and airports. The Red Cross, and the Departments of National Defence, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will work together in running the ILSs.


Search for related information by keyword

Hon. John McCallum Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Government and Politics

Date modified: