Mayor Tory meets with Minister Blair to discuss housing assistance for refugee/asylum claimants arriving in Toronto

Mayor John Tory met earlier this month with the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, to discuss details about the Government of Canada’s response to the ongoing arrival of refugee/asylum claimants in the City of Toronto’s shelter system.

The city is currently facing a deadline of August 9 to relocate refugee/asylum claimants who are temporarily housed in Centennial and Humber College dormitories, as the colleges require the space for the upcoming school year. The city does not have the resources or the space to relocate this population to other locations within the city’s shelter system.

To assist the city, the Government of Canada has provided the city of Toronto with an initial $11 million in federal funding to help offset the costs associated with the influx of refugee/asylum seekers. The Government of Canada has also booked hotel accommodation within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for the refugee/asylum claimants currently housed in the two dormitories. The City of Toronto will cover the costs of transporting this population to new facilities. The Government of Canada has also responded to the city’s request to better manage the inter-provincial flow of irregular migrants and coordinate the placement of new arrivals to other locations outside of the City of Toronto’s shelter system, through the introduction of a new triage centre in Cornwall.

“Toronto has stepped up to help in any way we can, but there is a limit to what we can do on our own,” said Mayor Tory. “The city thanks the federal government for this initial funding and their collaborative efforts to find housing for those living in Toronto college dormitories. We will continue to work with all levels of government, including our municipal partners, to establish a coordinated, regional response to the ongoing pressures of irregular migration.”

At its peak, there were about 675 people in the two college dormitory programs. Outside the dormitory program, there are over 1,750 refugee/asylum claimants currently in the City of Toronto hotel program on a nightly basis. The city continues to see 15 to 20 new refugee/asylum claimants entering the system each day.

From November 2016 to date, the City of Toronto has served a total of 5,315 unique refugee clients in the shelter system, and moved 2,690 refugee/asylum claimants from shelters into permanent housing during that time period, including 31 families from the dormitory program.

Over the coming months, the city will continue to proactively work with other orders of government, including other municipalities and community partners, to find appropriate shelter, accommodation and supports for refugees/asylum claimants.

A backgrounder on refugee/asylum claimant arrivals in Toronto is available at

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