Canada is to spend $7 million on a new refugee reception centre for more streamlined services and supports as well as additional shelter spaces for asylum seekers in the Peel region which includes Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon.
The added funding for refugees on the outskirts of Toronto comes in the wake of a war of words between Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow and Immigration Minister Marc Miller over the paucity of places for refugees to live in Canada’s biggest city.
“We need more space and resources for this crisis, including the armouries, a reception centre and real funding to support the 5,100 – and growing – refugees the city is supporting,” Chow reportedly said earlier this month.
In a statement released Friday, the immigration minister expressed sympathy for challenges facing the provinces and municipalities when it comes to housing refugees.
“We are going to continue to work closely with them to find solutions,” Miller promised.
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“Everyone deserves the basic right to a safe place to stay and this funding is going to significantly help alleviate the pressures in this region. We are confident that with full engagement from all levels of government, we can develop longer-term options for interim housing outside of the current situation.”
Through the Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP), the federal government has provided almost $700 million to provinces and municipalities to address extraordinary housing pressures related to the increased volumes of asylum claimants since 2017. Earlier this year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced an extension of IHAP with additional funding of $212 million.
Chris Fonseca, the acting mayor of Mississauga, welcomed the new funding and construction of the reception centre, particularly in view of the arrival of the cold winter months.
“With temperatures dropping, today’s announcement comes at a critical time and will ensure those in need have a safe and warm roof over their heads as we enter the winter months,” said Fonseca.
Ottawa has also procured temporary accommodations for short-term housing to alleviate the pressure on local shelters amid growing demand. The federal government has nearly 3,800 temporary rooms across Canada providing housing for over 7,000 asylum claimants.
The country, however, is currently welcoming almost seven times as many new permanent residents annually through its refugee immigration programs.
Canada Welcomed 46,520 Refugees Last Year And Poised To Receive Even More This Year
The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals the country welcomed 46,520 new permanent residents through refugee immigration programs last year and is poised to have welcomed another 47,053, or 1.1 per cent more, by the end of this year.
By the end of September, IRCC data indicates 35,290 refugees had become new permanent residents of Canada this year and almost 43 per cent of those refugees, or 15,160 of them, had settled in Ontario.
Nando Iannicca, regional chair of the Peel Region, called Ottawa’s new funding and additional shelter for refugees “vital”.
“While the affordable housing crisis has put a major strain on our ability to offer shelter to our residents and asylum claimants fleeing dangerous circumstances, today’s announcement is encouraging,” said Iannicca.
“This reception centre is vital for asylum claimants and will help ease the capacity burdens of Peel’s emergency shelters.”
Kamal Khera, Canada’s minister of diversity, inclusion and persons with disabilities, echoed those sentiments, describing the situation for refugees as a crisis.
“As winter approaches, and with a global migration crisis, it is even more important to ensure people are kept safe,” said Khera.
“This new reception centre will save lives and alleviate pressure on the Region of Peel. There is no simple answer but we are confident that with full engagement from all levels of government we can implement real long-term, sustainable and compassionate measures to ensure that the most vulnerable newcomers to Canada have a roof over their heads.”