Many people across Toronto were alarmed to see refugee claimants sleeping outside, through severe rainstorms as the city drew a hard line that our shelters are full and we do not have the funding to expand shelters as needed. We are grateful to the many citizens, faith communities and Black community groups that have mobilized to support these vulnerable people with gift cards, food and supplies. Further, a few churches opened up and the refugee claimants finally had a place to sleep that was safe from the elements.
It is understandable that we are upset this is happening. However, the city does not have the budget to cover something that is a federal responsibility. It is therefore incumbent on the Federal government to have a national plan and sustainable funding model so municipalities are not begging from situation to situation - which is what is happening.
While we are grateful for the $97 million announced by our new mayor, in addition to the $6.67 million housing benefit provided by the provincial government, this still falls short of a long term sustainable plan for an issue that is impacting municipalities across Ontario. Here is some of what our Mayor and City Council are asking for:
A centralized intake center at the airport so refugees have a clear pathway when they arrive to access the important resources needed to help them get settled as soon as possible.
Additional $60 million to reach the $157 million necessary to cover the additional 2500 beds to house refugees in our shelter system.
Learn more at MM 8.29 Securing Shelter and Support for Refugees.