Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Asylum Seekers Dominate Shelter Population, Making Up 70% in Mississauga and Brampton”

ver 1,200 households of asylum seekers are currently being accommodated in shelters across Mississauga and Brampton, constituting approximately 70 per cent of all shelter stays.

The updated figures, provided by the Region of Peel, underscore the dire situation faced by the shelter system, which is operating at approximately 350 per cent over capacity. The region has renewed its plea for increased funding from both the provincial and federal governments to address this pressing issue.

According to officials, at least 70 per cent of all shelter residents are asylum claimants, totaling 1,251 households in Peel’s shelter system. This includes both individuals and entire family units.

Director of the Peel Newcomers Strategy Group, Jessica Kwik, notes that Mississauga and Brampton are popular resettlement destinations for asylum seekers due to factors like their proximity to Pearson International Airport and the presence of familiar cultural communities.

The surge in asylum seekers seeking shelter, compounded by a nationwide housing crisis, has forced many to turn to shelters for accommodation. Tragically, two asylum seekers from Africa have lost their lives in recent months while sleeping outdoors. Plans are underway for a new asylum claimant welcome centre in Mississauga, with Ottawa committing $7 million in funding for the project.

However, the region is advocating for an additional $10 million in capital funds and $9.3 million annually to ensure the centre’s construction and ongoing operation. The region highlights the significant financial burden it bears, spending $62,000 per asylum claimant, and urges higher levels of government to provide essential support for legal services, income and employment assistance, settlement services, housing support, and health services.

Local resources are being mobilized to address the crisis, with Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown revealing that the city allocated $26 million last year and anticipates spending another $60 million in 2024 to address the shelter crisis.

The region emphasizes that the construction of the Reception Centre hinges on full funding from the provincial and federal governments. Without such commitment, the region’s sustainable model cannot be implemented. However, it asserts its determination to proceed with asylum claimant-focused shelter facilities, even if additional funding is not secured, further straining homelessness supports that are already under significant pressure, according to Commissioner of Human Services, Sean Baird.

Recent data shows that Ontario is home to the highest number of permanent resident refugees in Canada, estimated at 39,800 individuals. In September, refugees comprised nearly 60 per cent of the shelter population, which was operating at around 260 per cent over capacity at that time.

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