Why are ‘refugee’ women panhandling in the GTA?

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In the summer many drivers and pedestrians in Peel Region and Toronto report seeing refugee-looking women panhandling on street corners.

As the weather improves, several women with head coverings appearing to be Middle-Eastern are appearing around the city and begging Torontonians to open their purse strings.

A media report recently reported that some of these women say they are Syrian, Bosnian or Roma refugees.

It would be of interest to policy makers, politicians and the public to know exactly what is going on and why ‘refugee’ women are sent out to beg for alms.

Last year, nearly 900 refugee claimants used the city’s emergency shelter beds on an average night. This year that number has increased to an average of almost 2,000 refugee claimants a night – that’s 33 per cent of the entire shelter population.

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These women go out of their way to advertise themselves as refugees. Obviously, they believe that given the mostly positive view liberal Canadians have of refugees, this would help their cause.

Some call it a marketing ploy designed to encourage Canadians to reach for their wallet and pull out big bills.

A couple of years ago, you had aggressive so-called Tibetan monks importuning passersby for ‘donations’ until there was a crackdown and the public got wind of the scam. If the number of ‘refugee’ women panhandlers continues to grow, there will be questions raised and hopefully there will be some answers.

Meanwhile social workers from organizations who spot an opportunity to do good and use it to justify more funding are fanning out in search of these women whom they assume are all genuine and need their help and generosity.

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The only thing is that it is quite unlikely these refugee women aren’t aware of all the wonderful help that is available if they ask- language classes, education, food banks and even jobs. But some may find it simpler to just find a busy intersection to settle down for a few hours and earn a living that way. – CINEWS

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