Canada, a country sculpted by the hands of immigrants, is witnessing an upsurge in the number of asylum seekers. The responsibility of providing housing and support to these claimants primarily falls on the provinces and municipalities. However, the federal government acknowledges the necessity of a unified approach to address this pressing issue.
Today, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced a significant boost in funding aimed at ensuring that communities impacted by the influx of asylum seekers can continue to provide shelter to these vulnerable individuals.
The federal government is set to inject approximately $212 million into the Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP), extending its operation until March 31, 2024. This substantial financial support includes around $97 million earmarked for the City of Toronto. The IHAP, which shares costs with provinces and municipalities, has already received nearly $700 million, including over $215 million for Toronto alone.
But the government’s efforts don’t stop there. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is actively collaborating with the most affected provinces and municipalities to increase temporary housing availability. As of early July, the IRCC had secured over 3,800 hotel rooms across six provinces to provide temporary shelter to asylum claimants.
Addressing the international migration situation requires a pan-Canadian approach. The federal government remains committed to working in harmony with provinces and municipalities to ensure comprehensive support for those seeking refuge in Canada.
Immigration is a key driver of Canada’s economic recovery post-pandemic and is vital for its long-term growth. The multi-year levels plan positions Canada to tackle current labour shortages and attract skilled workers to fuel our economy.
The IHAP has been instrumental in addressing the increased interim housing pressures since 2017. In the fiscal year 2022–2023, over $164 million was disbursed to cover eligible costs under IHAP, including $88 million to Toronto, $67 million to Quebec, and $9 million to Ottawa.
The Government of Canada also funds settlement services to help newcomers adapt to life in Canada. In the fiscal year 2023–2024, the government is investing $1.076 billion in settlement funding, including over $334 million in the Greater Toronto Area.
Moreover, the Resettlement Assistance Program provides immediate and essential support services to meet refugees’ resettlement needs. For the fiscal year 2023–2024, the government is investing $310 million in resettlement funding, including over $34 million in the Greater Toronto Area.
The federal government is committed to working with provinces and municipalities to implement permanent housing solutions. In April 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a partnership with the City of Toronto worth more than $1.3 billion to renew and repair over 58,000 affordable housing units.
Through Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, the Government of Canada has committed nearly $4 billion over 9 years to combat homelessness across the country. This includes over $290 million allocated for Toronto between 2019–2020 and 2023–2024.
In a move to empower asylum claimants, the IRCC implemented a temporary public policy in November 2022 that provides asylum claimants with timely access to open work permits. This policy allows them to enter Canada’s labour market sooner, reducing their dependence on social assistance and other supports. Since the policy’s launch, IRCC has issued over 53,000 initial work permits for asylum claimants.
In conclusion, Canada continues to shine as a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge, demonstrating a commitment to providing support and opportunities for a better life. The country’s comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of asylum claimants is a testament to its enduring values of compassion, inclusivity, and unity.