Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Toronto seeks help to deal with influx of refugees
TORONTO — The mayor of Toronto says the city will need to open an emergency reception centre over the next seven days to deal with an influx of refugees.
John Tory says the federal and Ontario governments should take action to relieve the growing pressure refugee claimants are putting on the city’s shelter system.
He says 10 new refugee claimants are added to Toronto’s shelter system each day — 334 additional refugee claimants have arrived since he last appealed for help on April 26.
At the current rate of arrivals, Tory says Toronto projects that refugees will represent more than 50 per cent of the city’s shelter residents by November.
Tory says he’s looking for a number of things from Ottawa and the province, including co-ordination and leadership to help with the immediate placement of new arrivals outside of the city’s shelter system.
He also wants dedicated provincial and/or federal staff to facilitate and operate the placement, sustainable funding, and reimbursement of all costs, including those incurred in 2017 and projected for 2018.
That reimbursement includes $64.5 million in projected costs for ongoing housing and operations, Tory said.
“Toronto is a city built by immigrants, many who came from around the world as refugees,” Tory said.
“The people of Toronto are generous, they are understanding and they value our role as Canadians in accommodating people in their time of need,” he said. “But the federal and provincial governments need to honour their values and their commitments to these populations as well.”
A spokesman for Doug Ford said that while immigration is primarily a federal issue, the Ontario Progressive Conservative leader would be willing to discuss the issue to ensure Toronto receives the funding it needs if his party wins the June 7 election.
Last month, Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne said the province would work with the city and continue to look for surplus provincial buildings that can be used as shelter space.
And an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokeswoman said on April 26 that the government would continue to work with the city and province on the issue.
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