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Ontario’s Big City Mayors Statement on Lack of Municipal Capacity to Support Newcomers to Canada

Jul 18, 2023Housing, Top Stories

The Canadian government is failing to fully fund the municipal front line that Canada relies on to welcome and settle newcomers, including those needing urgent support such as refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing conflict in their home countries.

Ontario cities understand that the federal government believes “housing and supports for asylum seekers are the responsibility of provinces and municipalities” and historically, by working together with other orders of government, local agencies, and community partners to co-ordinate their settlement, municipalities have been able to expand services when there has been an influx through emergency shelter systems and other wraparound supports.

This is no longer the case.

Municipal leaders are operating with a nineteenth century revenue system to respond to twenty-first century responsibilities that include a housing and homelessness crisis, public health and safety issues such as the mental health and addictions crisis, ageing infrastructure, and other traditional responsibilities.

This most recent influx of refugees has dramatically increased pressure on a system that is already over capacity, and despite best efforts, municipalities can no longer keep up with the demand.

While our cities are on the front line of welcoming newcomers to Canada, the federal government has not consulted nor planned with municipalities to ensure these newcomers receive the housing and other supports they need, including for those who have come to Canada to learn. And when these needs cannot be met, it is often vulnerable and marginalized communities that are impacted the most.

Today’s announcement by the federal government to increase interim housing supports is a good start, but it does not solve the systemic capacity issues municipalities across Ontario are facing, nor does it address the current refugee crisis in communities throughout the GTA and beyond.

Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) is calling for an urgent meeting of all orders of government to discuss immediate action on the capacity issues faced by our municipalities, and to put in place a funding model that addresses the on-going need for emergency housing and other supports as this refugee crisis continues.

OBCM is also calling on the federal government to consult with municipalities, provinces and territories on the process of setting of immigration targets, including for international students, and on the funding and supports cities require to ensure people receive the housing and other services they need when they arrive.

OBCM requests that these numbers be announced with enough time to be included in provincial and municipal growth planning.

About Ontario’s Big City Mayors

Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM), formerly known as the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, includes mayors of 29 single and lower-tier cities with a population of 100,000 or more, who collectively represent nearly 70 percent of Ontario’s population. OBCM advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities.

Media Contacts
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Chair                                       Michelle Baker, Executive Director                                                                
905-335-7777                                                                             647-308-6602

by | Jul 18, 2023 | Housing, Top Stories

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