New investment of $212 million to help refugees get housing through the Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP) has been announced by Canada Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
The program is being extended until the end of March 2024.
“Canada will continue to support the world’s most vulnerable people who seek our protection,” said Fraser.
“Today, we have committed additional funds to ensure cities like Toronto have the capacity to keep a roof over the head of asylum seekers fleeing violence, war and persecution.”
On her first day on the job as mayor of Toronto, Olivia Chow called on Ottawa for an extra $157 million to house refugees reportedly sleeping on the streets.
The newly-elected mayor called it a crisis and maintained it was the federal government’s responsibility to do something about it.
Read More Canada Immigration News
Refugees And Family Class Immigrants With HIV No Longer Need To Inform Sponsors
New Canada Economic Immigration Pathway For Skilled Refugees
Canada And UAE Sign Agreement To Provide Safe Passage For Refugees From Afghanistan
With the latest funding announcement, Chow is not getting everything on her wish list. Toronto will be getting about $97 million for interim housing for asylum claimants.
But that’s on top of the almost $700 million already invested in the program, including $215 million earmarked for Toronto.
“The City of Toronto has no better partner than our federal government,” said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s finance minister.
“Today’s funding announcement builds on our record of partnering with municipalities, including Toronto, to ensure that those seeking refuge and safety in Canada receive the support they deserve.”
Through the IHAP, Ottawa provides funding to provincial and municipal governments on a cost-sharing basis to address extraordinary interim housing pressures resulting from increased volumes of asylum claimants since 2017.
In fiscal year 2022-2023, more than $164 million in payments were made through the program to cover eligible costs including:
- $88 million to Toronto;
- $67 million to the province of Quebec, and;
- $9 million to Ottawa.
Ottawa Spending More Than $1bn In Settlement Funds This Year
That money goes to settlement services to help new permanent residents settle and adapt to life in Canada and includes information and referrals, language training, assistance finding employment that matches newcomers’ skills and education, and help integrating into Canadian society.
“For fiscal year 2023 – 2024, the government is investing $1.076 billion in settlement funding, including over $334 million in the Greater Toronto Area,” notes Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on its website.
Through the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), Ottawa also provides immediate and essential support services and income support to assist in meeting refugees’ resettlement needs, through contributions to service provider organizations.
These services include:
- reception services;
- assistance with accommodations;
- links to essential federal and provincial programs, and;
- life-skills training.
“For the fiscal year 2023 – 2024, the government is investing $310 million in resettlement funding, including over $34 million in the Greater Toronto Area,” notes the IRCC.
Under its Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, the federal government has committed nearly $4 billion over nine years to help tackle homelessness across the country with more than $290 million of that earmarked for Toronto between 2019 – 2020 and again this year.
Since Nov. 16 last year, Canada has been providing refugees with access to open work permits, allowing them to enter Canada’s labour market sooner and provide for themselves while they await a decision on their asylum claims.
“From the launch of the public policy to May 31, 2023, IRCC has issued over 53,000 initial work permits for asylum claimants,” notes the IRCC.