TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing another $42 million through the Canada Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) program to support the City of Toronto and other impacted municipalities across the province in providing urgent assistance to a rapidly growing number of asylum claimants and other at-risk populations.
“This investment will ease growing pressures on homeless shelters by helping thousands of asylum seekers move into long-term housing,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Unfortunately, in Toronto and across the province, too many newcomers searching for a better life are struggling, living in our shelter systems, church basements or, in some cases, out on the streets. That’s just unacceptable. We need all levels of government working together to tackle this crisis.”
This $42 million investment in 2023-24 through the COHB program will assist approximately 4,000 new households, helping move more people into housing and free up existing shelter spaces in impacted communities. Of the $42 million, $26.4 million will be allocated to the City of Toronto reflective of its share of asylum claimants and impact on local services. The province continues to advocate strongly for Ontario municipalities and service managers to ensure they receive their fair share of federal funding to address the significant, ongoing rise in asylum claimants.
“Our government is stepping up to help municipalities deal with the pressures they are facing due to increased numbers of asylum claimants,” said Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We are committed to working constructively with our municipal partners, but we also firmly believe the federal government has a responsibility to step up as well and support municipalities in dealing with this crisis.”
Asylum claimants are individuals seeking asylum in Canada based on a fear of persecution in their home country. They are ineligible for most federal support programs, such as financial assistance and settlement and language training services. They are different from persons who arrive in Canada having already been recognized as refugees, whose arrival to Canada as permanent residents allows them to qualify for federal supports.
“This investment will help refugee claimants and unhoused people move into permanent, stable housing so they can rebuild their lives. It will relieve the pressure on Toronto’s shelter system and the many generous churches, community organizations and regular Torontonians who have stepped up to support asylum seekers,” said Olivia Chow, Mayor of Toronto. “All levels of government have a role to play in supporting asylum seekers. The Ontario government is stepping up and I invite the federal government to join us as well.”
This year alone, Ontario could receive more than 72,000 asylum claimants – nearly twice as many as last year. The City of Toronto has experienced the greatest influx of asylum claimants of any municipality of Ontario.
The number of asylum claims made in Ontario nearly doubled between 2012 and 2022.
Asylum claimants in need of financial assistance may be eligible for social assistance and may apply for either Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
Ontario is also investing an additional $13.25 million for settlement services, language training and labour market integration supports to help asylum claimants settle, achieve stability and find employment.
In April, the Ontario government announced an additional $202 million annually, including an additional $48 million for the City of Toronto, in homelessness prevention programs to help those experiencing or at risk of homelessness and to support community organizations delivering supportive housing.
“This investment represents precisely the kind of support our municipal partners have been asking for. This funding will help municipalities provide life changing support, including safe places to live for some of the most vulnerable. Every individual deserves to live safe and healthy lives, free of violence, intimidation, and fear of persecution. We are proud to make this investment and hope it will inspire our federal counterparts to do the same.”
– Rob Flack
Associate Minister of Housing
SOURCE Province of Ontario