The City of Toronto is urgently requesting federal and provincial assistance to assist with growing refugee arrivals.
In a release, the city said that it needed the governments to facilitate a co-ordinated and regional response to rising numbers of refugee claimants seeking shelter services.
“Due to the continued demand from refugee claimants on our shelter system, the city is taking action to help ensure a safe, welcoming and accessible place for all,” said Mayor John Tory. “With support from our federal and provincial partners, we can meet this need and address the pressures we are seeing in our system.”
According to the city, the number of refugee claimants in Toronto’s shelter system has increased from 459 (11.2% of the total system) in 2016 to 2,351 (37.6% of the total system) in April 2018.
“If these levels continue, the city projects it will incur $64.5 million in direct costs related to providing shelter and housing to refugee claimants,” states the release.
In its request to the governments, the City of Toronto is urging both bodies to establish a response that includes federal and provincial-level co-ordination to facilitate the immediate placement of new arrivals to regional locations outside of the City of Toronto’s shelter system, and the reimbursement for all costs – including those incurred in 2017 and projected for 2018 – in responding to the needs of refugee claimants in Toronto, including $64.5 million for direct operations.
The city says that more than 19,000 people use their shelters annually, which is more than any other Canadian municipality. Moreover, the City of Toronto’s shelter system continues to operate at a 96% occupancy rate.