Former Humber River Hospital may house Syrian refugees
Toronto's former Humber River Hospital is pictured here.
Toronto's former Humber River Hospital is one of the sites being considered to temporarily house a large influx of Syrian refugees expected in Ontario.
The province has committed to taking in 10,000 refugees by the end of 2016. Meanwhile, the federal government has pledged to take in 25,000 by the end of the year.
According to Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins, while the province doesn't yet know how many refugees Ottawa will ask them to take in before the end of 2015, he told The Canadian Press earlier this week Ontario is prepared to receive its "fair share."
He said one of the options the provincial government is looking at is to temporarily house the refugees is recently-decommissioned hospitals. That includes the former site of Toronto's Humber River Hospital.
Last month, inpatients of the hospital were transferred to a new facility, located near Wilson Avenue and Keele Street. The move meant that the former sites, located near Keele Street, just north of Eglinton Avenue and Church Street near Jane Street, now sit empty.
The idea of using the now-vacant buildings is being applauded by infectious disease specialist Dr. Neil Rau, who said many of the refugees will likely have health concerns that will need to be addressed.
"I think it's a good idea because these people are going to have health needs as well as housing needs," Rau told CTV Toronto on Friday. "They're also going to need social workers to meet with them."
Rau said his main concern is whether or not the refugees, particularly the children, have been immunized.
"It's very important to make sure that these people have a catch-up program," Rau explained. "I'm talking about the kids, and even the adults, who may have possibly missed vaccines or even never received vaccines in their childhood."
Syria experienced a polio outbreak in recent years. Rau said Canada needs to be vigilant against the disease, which has been eliminated from most countries, including Canada, thanks to the introduction of an effective polio vaccine. Canada has not seen a homegrown case since 1977.
There remains no treatment or cure for the virus, which is spread mostly through contaminated water and person-to-person contact.
With files from CTV Toronto's Pauline Chan and The Canadian Press