Toronto

Toronto refugee organizations worry as governments fight over money for asylum seekers

Community organizations in Toronto are worrying what will happen to asylum seekers now that the new provincial government says it doesn't want to pay for housing refugee claimants.

Premier Ford says Ottawa should foot entire bill for asylum seekers who've crossed the border

Francisco Rico-Martinez of the FCJ Refugee Centre says the province's push to make the federal government foot the full bill for refugees could create a crisis. (CBC)
Community organizations in Toronto are worried about what will happen to refugee claimants now that the new provincial government says it doesn't want to pay to house them. 

Doug Ford's office said Thursday that the federal government should pay the entire cost, adding that it believes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration has encouraged people to cross into Canada illegally.

"This has resulted in a housing crisis and threats to the services that Ontario families depend on," Ford's office said a statement. "This mess was 100 per cent the result of the federal government."

Refugees could be left homeless, refugee organizations say

Francisco Rico-Martinez of the FCJ Refugee Centre says the province's move could create a crisis and is hoping all levels of government will work collaboratively to support asylum seekers.

"Who is going to foot the bill? Where are they going to go?" he said. "What we want is a collaboration when everyone is here at the table." 
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration has encouraged people to cross into Canada illegally and that the federal government should pay 100 per cent of the cost. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Lucy Chaimiti, executive director of Adam House, a Toronto refugee centre, says if the province refuses to co-operate it will put refugee claimants in jeopardy, possibly leaving them homeless.   

"I'm not talking adults. I'm talking families and children who will potentially be living on the streets," Chaimiti said.

Chaimiti says shelters for refugee claimants are full across the city — that's even after 800 temporary spots opened at college dorms.

Those spaces are only available for another month.

Prime minister to talk with mayor

The federal government recently pledged to give Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba $50 million to help offset some of the costs incurred due to the influx of asylum seekers crossing the Canada-U.S. border.

The provinces, however, have asked for much more support, and so has the city of Toronto.

Toronto Mayor John Tory, who is expected to meet with Trudeau Friday, put out a statement saying the city has exhausted its resources — and given the province's position — he urged the federal government to take immediate action. 

"The City of Toronto has been clear that we need assistance to deal with unprecedented numbers of refugee claimants and asylum seekers. The province has made its initial position clear," Tory said in a statement Thursday. 

"I will continue to urge the Canadian government to take immediate action and I am optimistic that the federal government will work with us to fulfil its responsibility to help cities deal with these families."

With files from Lorenda Reddekopp, Farrah Merali and The Canadian Press

now