STATEMENT: GTHA Mayors and Chairs Discuss How to Best Support Increased Demand for Settlement Services

“Today, representatives of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) Mayors and Chairs met to address how to best support increased demand for settlement services—despite various ongoing challenges and limitations.

For decades, GTHA municipalities have offered a welcoming community for refugees and asylum seekers. We’re known as a safe place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

We thank all the community partners who have come to the table to support refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the GTHA. However, despite our best efforts, the increased number of people arriving in our communities has placed a significant strain on our resources.

At present, there are over 4,000 asylum seekers and refugees requiring support in across the GTHA.  We have expanded our services to support refugees and asylum seekers while they establish themselves in Canada. We’ve activated the emergency shelter systems; provided wrap-around services and supports to help newcomers settle in the GTHA.

But our collective system is over capacity. We simply cannot provide shelter and resources, without support from our provincial and federal partners. We are reducing our ability to serve our existing vulnerable populations.

The federal funding announced earlier today, did not reflect the increased number of refugees arriving in our community, nor does it apply to all municipalities facing these pressures. We’ve been clear with federal and provincial representatives that we need their immediate and long-term support, including a strategy and program for the continued arrival of refugees and asylum seekers. .

The first step starts in the next couple of days: planning for those who are unsheltered in our communities, including those who must be relocated from post-secondary residences. Within the next few weeks, we need capital and operating support to further expand our shelter system and increase resources for affordable rental housing. We need a plan to address financial deficits—currently being carried by municipalities—to provide this much-needed support.

We look forward to working with the federal and provincial government on next steps to ensure the GTHA remains a welcoming and supportive place for newcomers.”

GTHA Mayors and Chairs

Durham   Brampton   Halton   Hamilton   Markham
Mississauga   Oshawa   Peel   Toronto   Vaughan   York

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