WATCH: Temporary tent city being built to house migrants
Nearly 100 Canadian Forces soldiers from St. Jean sur Richelieu have been dispatched to Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle. They’re setting-up modular tent shelters with lighting and heating as part of ongoing efforts to support the recent spike in migrants to Canada.
Their work supports efforts by other federal organizations, like the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), to temporarily accommodate asylum seekers at the Canada-U.S. border.
The small camp soldiers are working on is expected to accommodate up to 500-people, then it’s up to border or social services agancies to step in.
“It’s complicated to manage these sites,” said Françine Dupuis, associate-DG for integrated health and social services in downtown-west of Montreal. “You have to make sure that they have three meals a day. That they’re safe, that they have a shower, that they have toilets.”
That’s on top of ensuring pressing healthcare and other personal needs are addressed.
“We take care of the children, some women are pregnant,” added Dupuis.
Most of the soldiers who are building the temporary shelters will head back to their base after work is complete.
Soldiers remaining at the site will be there to maintain military equipment and will not be involved with law enforcement or other security operations on the temporary site.
CJAD 800 spoke with CBSA to ask whether running water and plumbing for toilet facilities would be added to the camp, but a regional communications employee said the agency was only allowed to confirm the military’s involvement.The union for Canada's border guards says anywhere from 450 to 700 asylum-seekers cross the border into Quebec every day — most of them coming through Lacolle.
Meanwhile, more than 2,500 asylum-seekers, the majority of which are originally from Haiti, are already being housed in Montreal at several temporary shelters. The Canadian military confirmed they’ve only been asked to install lighting and heating equipment for the comfort of the people to be accommodated.
The MUHC has announced the old Royal Victoria hospital has been pressed into service as one of those temporary shelters.