Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Council urges province to give illegal immigrants welfare

City councillors urged the province to provide welfare to “undocumented Torontonians.”

After another heated debate around providing city services to illegal immigrants, council voted 29 - 8 in favour of pushing ahead with “Sanctuary City” policies. Those include directing staff to only collect immigration and citizenship information when required by provincial or federal legislation, urging all city agencies and other bodies funded by the city to ensure they are offering services to everyone regardless of their immigration status and requesting the Toronto Police Services Board to review its policies to ensure cops comply with the city’s “Access without Fear” directives.

Council also voted to have staff look at developing a City of Toronto municipal identification card and to request the provincial government review Ontario Works legislation to ensure access to social services of “undocumented Torontonians.”

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong came out firmly against providing services to “illegal immigrants.”

“We all should be opposed to it. We should be in favour of playing by the rules,” Minnan-Wong told council.

Minnan-Wong argued the city was encouraging illegal immigration by offering services to everyone.

“Why have any immigration law at all?” he asked.

“To allow illegal immigrants here is an insult to all those people that played by the rules.”

“When we tell illegal immigrants that it’s OK, we’re sending a message around the world that, “Come on in, break our laws and we’re going to give you all sorts of things.’”

Councillor Gord Perks claimed councillors against providing services to everyone were engaging in “jealous guarding” of Canadian social services.

“I don’t believe for a moment that you should only have access to those (services) because you chose your country of birth wisely,” Perks said.

Last year, council voted to reaffirm the city’s commitment to offering services “without fear” to undocumented residents.

Councillor Joe Mihevc said Tuesday’s vote shows council is “supportive of making sure that everyone in this city, regardless of status, is a welcomed Torontonian.”

“What this does is it trains frontline staff and it also says to agencies that receive monies from the city that they also have to have that as part of their policy,” Mihevc said.

“Whatever services are out there they have to provide them free of asking that question (for status documentation).”

He argued the changes will “bring people out of the shadows.”

“If they know now that this city is trying to open things up they might feel more comfortable accessing the services that they want and need,” Mihevc said.

Councillor David Shiner lost a bid to get council to scuttle the proposals.

“If you’re not here legally you should not be getting the services that taxpayers get,” Shiner said.

Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby echoed Shiner’s stance.

“If I tried to go to some of these other countries what would I get there? Bupkis,” she said.
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