Thursday, May 23, 2024

Have the Three Governments Replied to the Asylum Crisis in Toronto

200 asylum seekers were left on the streets of Toronto after they were denied places to sleep by Toronto’s overburdened shelter system. The local tragedy has put a spotlight on the government and the worsening situation in the nation’s largest city. A hot-spot for migrants from around the world, Toronto has been increasingly unaffordable for even middle-class residents.

While municipal, provincial and federal governments were slow to pay attention to the issues facing asylum seekers, a community-driven campaign brought media and eventually politicians’ eyes to the downtown encampment of asylum seekers right around the corner from the famous Entertainment District.

Many people are frustrated by the lack of action and the number of figures pointing between all three levels of government. The response of each side is part of a grand failure to coordinate.

How Have the Three Governments Replied to the Asylum Crisis in Toronto

Governments’ Responses

According to Toronto city officials, over the past twenty months, Toronto shelters have seen a 500% increase in people requiring the shelter system. Workers have had to turn away people from shelters since June. This is right around the time the East African asylum seekers landed in the country.


Around 35% of all the people in shelters are refugees. These numbers have grown as the Trudeau government has increased immigration to half a million in 2022. The federal government plans to add about half a million each year from 2022 to 2025. As the largest city in the country, Toronto attracts an abnormally high percentage of those coming into the country.


While the federal government picks the immigration targets, shelter systems are determined and paid for by the city. This is why new mayor Olivia Chow has been so adamant about the federal government stepping up support for the city’s burdened shelter system. Even after the federal government promised a one-time payment of $215 million, the mayor made her feelings known this was not enough.


“While we appreciate today’s announcement, it will not meet the needs of refugees arriving in Toronto and across the region.” Meanwhile, a group of nonprofits and churches have paid to house as many of the people as possible. They are still looking for more support from individuals and groups.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said he and Chow met and agreed to work together to improve “refugee support and resettlement efforts in Toronto.”


Chow and Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday called on Ottawa to build on that “stop-gap” funding and to fully support the needs of “these refugees and asylum seekers.”


Band-Aid Solutions


Currently, no funding has actually been given to those asylum seekers, and they continue to be housed, fed and supported by private citizens and nonprofit groups. Funding for the shelter system is just one level of the problem. Housing affordability issues mean more people will continue to need services.


Targets by the federal government for immigrants will also continue to ravage the shelter system as long as immigrants follow the economic opportunity in Canada’s big cities like Toronto and Vancouver.

It may be likely the communities supporting the un-housed asylum seekers will need to hold such support permanently if Canada is to accept another 1.5 million residents over the next three years.