All refugees and asylum claimants relocated from college dormitories, city says
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, August 9, 2018 2:56PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 9, 2018 7:26PM EDT
The City of Toronto says it has relocated all refugee and asylum claimants temporarily housed at Centennial College and Humber College to either hotels or permanent housing in the Greater Toronto Area.
More than 600 refugees were moved to college dorm rooms in May due to a shelters being unable to cope with the influx of asylum seekers from elsewhere in Canada, but they could only remain in the dormitories until Aug. 9, when students returned for their academic year.
Earlier this month, the city said that about 270 asylum seekers were still living in the student residences.
"The City of Toronto has worked diligently and compassionately to accommodate the ongoing arrival of refugee and asylum seekers," said Toronto Mayor John Tory in a news release issued Thursday. "With the partnership of other levels of government and surrounding municipalities, we have been able to relocate the dormitory population.”
A couple says they fled Nigeria with their four children after learning that three of their daughters were facing female circumcision.
Nike, a nurse, she had seen children die during the procedure.
“I know it could cause infection that can lead to infertility, inability to give birth, and they can bleed to death.”
The family went to the United States first, but lived in hiding. They eventually came to Toronto in January
It took them six months to find permanent housing. They will move in on Sept. 1
Back in June, Tory wrote a letter to the federal government saying the city’s shelter system was overcrowded and didn’t have room for the refugees being housed at the two Toronto colleges.
The federal government responded by earmarking $11 million in funding to help cover the cost of housing asylum seekers in Toronto. The money was set to be shared with cities across the province, but Premier Doug Ford removed his support for the file and Ottawa signed a memorandum with the city directly.
The funding, the city said in the news release, is being used to offset the $64.5 million in costs associated with the arrival and housing of refugees.
The federal government said it has booked and paid for hotel and motel rooms in the GTA for refugees being moved from the college dormitories. They said they will continue to pay for the housing until the end of September.
In the news release, the city said that a total of 5,482 refugees and asylum claimants have used the shelter system since November 2016. The city has found permanent housing for 2,900 during that time period.
As of Aug. 8, 42 per cent of shelter users were refugees or asylum seekers, city data showed.
“The City of Toronto continues to face extreme challenges accommodating new arrivals of refugees and asylum claimants, including 185 arrivals over the last seven days,” the news release said.
Mario Calla, executive director of COSTI Immigrant Services, said the influx of refugees coincided with the election of Donald Trump.
“This surge of arrivals started in December right before he was inaugurated and has continued,” he told CTV News Toronto. “Many of the refugees are moving here for protection.”
“It overwhelmed the capacity of the city shelter system. We weren’t prepared for that.”
The city is requesting that the federal and provincial government take immediate action to help manage the “inter-provincial flow of irregular migrants and coordinate the placement of new arrivals to locations outside the City of Toronto’s shelter system.”
Tory told reporters Thursday that Toronto needs a regional hub.
“What we will need to do is fine a more permanent solution in Toronto than our shelter system,” he said. “Using a facility such as the one they are on the way to establishing in eastern Ontario to actually direct refugee families to places where there are jobs and housing now.”
In the news release, the city says it “eagerly awaits” the opening of a triage centre in Cornwall, Ont. in September.