Hundreds of asylum seekers currently living in hotels and motels across the Greater Toronto Area will continue to live there for the two to four weeks as a last resort, some refer to it as a ‘resort’ quite literally. This is expected to continue until federal and municipal officials figure out a way forward.
The hotels were a hasty solution found to get asylum seekers out from the local college residences where they were placed for the summer. The federal government originally paid for the hotel rooms until September 30. Now, their bill will extend through at least the first half of October, if not the whole month.
When asked what options the government has to house asylum seekers, after the extra two-to-four weeks run out, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said they “do not have additional information to provide at this point.”
More than 34,000 people have come through the border illegally since early 2017 and just 398 have been removed after being found inadmissible.
There continues to be a steady trickle of asylum seekers illegally crossing the border and that is creating a massive backlogged which is impacting refugee claims.
Meanwhile Toronto’s shelter system has been operating at almost full capacity as these asylum seekers increasingly seek shelter.
Most asylum seekers find themselves drawn to Toronto which is straining the system. efforts to steer these asylum seekers to other regions have not been undertaken given the logistics and reluctance from other communities especially since many of these smaller places lack the infrastructure or facilities to host ever increasing numbers of asylum seekers. But recently Chatham-Kent in Southwestern Ontario, took in 20 newcomers from five families were redirected this month after crossing, but that doesn’t seem like much given the thousands of refugees and asylum seekers that continue to live and seek services in Toronto.
Making the issue even more daunting for municipalities in the GTA and beyond is the fact that the Ontario government has made it clear that this problem was created by the federal government and it was their responsibility to fix it by providing funding and making arrangements to host them.
In July the Ontario government insisted that the federal government needed to compensate Ontario and municipalities for the full costs associated with people who are crossing the border at irregular points, a cost it estimated to be in the region of $200 million dollars and counting.
It has also asked that refugee hearings are conducted within 60 days instead of the current time it takes which is two years.
Meanwhile with no solution in sight it is certain that this will be a major election issue in 2019. -CINEWS