Ontario Construction News staff writer
Mayors and Chairs of Durham Region, Brampton, Halton, Hamilton, Markham, Mississauga, Oshawa, Peel, Toronto, Vaughan and York issued a joint statement this week, in response to asylum seekers being shut out of shelters.
Within the next few weeks, the statement asks for capital and operating support to further expand shelter systems and increase resources for affordable rental housing. Also, a first step should be developing a plan to address financial deficits—currently being carried by municipalities—to provide much-needed support.
“Today, representatives of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) Mayors and Chairs met to address how to best support increased demand for settlement services—despite various ongoing challenges and limitations,” the statement reads. “For decades, GTHA municipalities have offered a welcoming community for refugees and asylum seekers. We’re known as a safe place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
The statement thanks community partners “who have come to the table to support refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the GTHA”.
“However, despite our best efforts, the increased number of people arriving in our communities has placed a significant strain on our resources.”
At present, there are more than 4,000 asylum seekers and refugees requiring support across the GTHA. Services have been expanded, including activating emergency shelter systems; providing wrap-around services and supports to help newcomers settle in the GTHA.
“But our collective system is over capacity,” mayors stated. “We simply cannot provide shelter and resources, without support from our provincial and federal partners. We are reducing our ability to serve our existing vulnerable populations.”
The federal funding announced earlier last week did not reflect the increased number of refugees arriving in our community, nor does it apply to all municipalities facing these pressures.
“We’ve been clear with federal and provincial representatives that we need their immediate and long-term support, including a strategy and program for the continued arrival of refugees and asylum seekers,” community leaders stated.