Could Halton Get an Influx of Refugees Soon?

Halton is growing with a population of 570,000 residents.

That being said, it's also considered a large suburban region, so could municipalities be called on to welcome more refugees?

According to the CBC, the City of Toronto welcomed almost 3,000 refugees as of mid-May 2018. As the crisis grows, Toronto Mayor John Tory has called for other large cities to help accept newcomers.

And that number is only expected to grow, according to the City of Toronto.

On July 6, Tory held a conference call with the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) to discuss a regional strategy for accepting refugee/asylum claimants.

More specifically, Tory requested that cities identify sites that could be repurposed as temporary housing, and connections to employers for job opportunities.

Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey is actually the chair of LUMCO, which represents 67 per cent of Ontario’s population through 27 "Big City" Mayors.

With that in mind, Brampton could be at the forefront of accepting new refugees.

While we continue discussions with the federal and provincial governments about how to further address the ongoing issue of refugee/asylum claimants, Mayors in Ontario are working together on a regional strategy to support the City of Toronto,” said Jeffrey in a recent statement.

This is a human issue. Cities are on the front lines of this crisis and we believe we have a moral obligation to act to provide shelter and assistance to those in need so that they can start their lives and contribute positively to our communities."

According to the CBC, 40 per cent of Toronto's shelter spaces are occupied by refugee claimants as of May, averaging 10 new refugee claimants per night.

With that rate in mind, refugees could make up more than half of Toronto's shelter population by fall 2018, says the CBC.

On the call [on July 6], Mayor Tory requested that municipalities identify any sites or facilities that could be repurposed as temporary housing, as well as connections to employers for job opportunities," said Jeffrey.

"Mayors from across the province offered their support including examining existing capacity within their shelter systems, potential temporary housing sites and facilitating opportunities for seasonal and full time employment."

LUMCO includes Ajax, Barrie, Brampton, Brantford, Burlington, Cambridge, Chatham-Kent, Greater Sudbury, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Markham, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, Oshawa, Ottawa, Richmond Hill, St. Catharines, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan, Waterloo, Whitby, and Windsor.

Basically, it covers major cities with populations of over 100,000 residents in Ontario, aiming to support and enhance strong and effective large urban governments, according to LUMCO's website.

Canada has a long history of welcoming newcomers and LUMCO continues to support this approach, but it should be clear that cities alone can no longer absorb the cost and impact of the increasing numbers of refugee/asylum claimants coming into the country at this time," said Jeffrey.

It's true that LUMCO and Tory have called on federal and provincial support, too.

"While we work on this regional strategy, we will need support from both Federal and Provincial orders of government to coordinate the supports and resources different cities are able to provide," said Jeffrey.

Toronto's shelters are currently operating well beyond a 90 per cent capacity target set by its councillors, according to the City of Toronto.

And as of May, the City of Toronto estimates it has spent some $64 million on temporary housing for refugees, in places like motels.

Could Halton be welcoming an influx of refugees soon?

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