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Feds to give Toronto another $143M to help house asylum seekers


The federal government is providing Toronto with another $143 million in funding to help support the influx of asylum claimants arriving in the city.

The funding, which is through the Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP) program, is part of the $362 million that will be distributed across Canada and was announced by federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller earlier this week.

In July, the federal government promised to provide Toronto with $97 million to fund interim housing for asylum seekers. But in the months that followed, municipalities, including Toronto, repeatedly called on Ottawa for more cash to address the true cost of the crisis.

Last month, the city’s Budget Chief Shelley Carroll indicated that the city required another $250 million from the federal government to help cover the cost of housing asylum claimants in Toronto.

The city threatened homeowners with an additional six per cent levy on their tax bill in 2024 if the federal government didn’t come through with more money.

Miller’s funding announcement came the night before Chow released her 2024 draft operating budget, which did not include the six per cent levy.

The new cash provided to the city will reimburse Toronto for costs incurred in 2023 and the first quarter of 2024.

Speaking at the news conference on Friday, Chow called the funding commitment a “down payment” and added that the federal government has committed to coming through with more money for the rest of 2024.

“That means that they have fully delivered for Toronto,” she said. “Recognizing that our fiscal years don’t align... it is a commitment and I am just so grateful.”

When announcing the details of her proposed budget Thursday, Chow confirmed that the city is currently housing around 6,000 asylum seekers and refugees in its shelters. This number, she said, represents about half of the shelter population in Toronto.

“The mayor and I talked about it and she assured me her commitment to making sure that they money is used as effectively and efficiently as possible,” Freeland said Friday.

“We are going to work hard together to make sure the money we have provided goes as far as possible and supports as many people as possible.”

Freeland also announced Friday that Ottawa will provide a $19.75 million top-up to the city’s share of the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit, which offers financial support to low-income renters.

Chow said this money will give 2,000 people “a chance to find decent, permanent homes.”

When pressed about previous tension between the two governments over a lack of adequate funding for asylum seekers, Freeland dismissed the idea that there was a strained relationship.

“I think the announcement you’ve heard today shows that we have reached a really good understanding on a critical issue,” the deputy prime minister said.

“There is no federal government that has been as committed to the city of Toronto, that has invested as much in the city of Toronto, as our government and I think all of us are proud of that.” Top Stories

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