Mayor Olivia Chow is urging the federal government to pick up the tab needed to cover costs incurred by several Toronto churches while caring for asylum seekers.
In a closed-door meeting today, Chow made a pitch to federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller, asking for assistance with the costs associated with the crisis.
Last week, council voted on a motion to ask the federal government to reimburse churches and community organizations who have provided funding for refugees to the tune of up to $750,000.
The city has also asked Ottawa to reimburse $200 million in 2023 shelter system costs, inclusive of the $97 million the feds already committed in July, totalling $103 million.
Speaking to reporters at an unrelated event after the meeting, Chow said she will need to know by next Monday if the feds will pay the $750,000 – otherwise, the city will be forced to cover the sum in full.
“Toronto has time and time again begged for some crumbs,” Chow said. “I met with the minister, I pled my case about refugees and they’re thinking about it.”“
Miller pointed out Tuesday the absence of the Ford government at the meeting, adding that the province has a role to play as well.
“They’re sitting on billions of dollars, that is just a fact, and they can certainly deploy that to the city of Toronto and the surrounding areas,” the minister said.
The minister said he thinks “ a more humane and humanitarian response” can be applied to the asylum crisis, and underlined that the purpose of the meeting was to “look at how Canada’s largest city can welcome in a bunch of people, [who] in some cases are risking their lives to be here.”
Toronto’s shelter system has been overcapacity for months. Right now, more than 10,000 people are sheltered – 35 per cent of them are refugees.
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