Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Ontario government has increased funding by $42 million through the Canada Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) program to support the City of Toronto and other municipalities impacted by a rapidly growing number of asylum claimants.
“This investment will ease growing pressures on homeless shelters by helping thousands of asylum seekers move into long-term housing,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Unfortunately, in Toronto and across the province, too many newcomers searching for a better life are struggling, living in our shelter systems, church basements or, in some cases, out on the streets.
“That’s just unacceptable. We need all levels of government working together to tackle this crisis.”
Funding through the COHB program will hep move more people into housing and free up existing shelter spaces in impacted communities. About $26.4 million will be allocated to the City of Toronto and Ford says the province continues to advocate for federal funding to address the significant, ongoing rise in asylum claimants.
“Our government is stepping up to help municipalities deal with the pressures they are facing due to increased numbers of asylum claimants,” said Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We are committed to working constructively with our municipal partners, but we also firmly believe the federal government has a responsibility to step up as well and support municipalities in dealing with this crisis.”
Asylum claimants are ineligible for most federal support programs, such as financial assistance and settlement and language training services.
This year alone, Ontario could receive more than 72,000 asylum claimants – nearly twice as many as last year. The City of Toronto has experienced the greatest influx of asylum claimants of any municipality of Ontario.
The number of asylum claims made in Ontario nearly doubled between 2012 and 2022.
Asylum claimants in need of financial assistance may be eligible for social assistance and may apply for either Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
In April, the Ontario government announced an additional $202 million annually, including an additional $48 million for the City of Toronto, in homelessness prevention programs to help those experiencing or at risk of homelessness and to support community organizations delivering supportive housing.