Toronto seeking help handling asylum seekers from the U.S.
The mayor of Toronto says the city is facing an immigration crisis and it is overwhelming the community’s ability to cope. Mayor John Tory is calling on the Canadian and Ontario governments to help pay for the costs.
“We need help,” Tory said recently, as he announced the opening of 800 additional beds for refugee claimants.
Tory says Toronto will have to spend more than $64 million by the end of the year in dealing with Canada’s huge influx of asylum seekers illegally crossing from the U.S.
That surge began shortly after U.S president Donald Trump took office nearly a year-and-a-half ago. Twenty-seven thousand people, many of them fearing extradition under Trump’s new immigration policies, headed north and illegally crossed the border into Canada, where they claimed refugee status.
So far this year more than 7,500 have crossed into Quebec from New York State. Many of them head for Toronto and they are filling up the city’s shelter system.
"We’ve exhausted our capacity and our human resources to be able to deal with additional people," said Paul Raftis with the the Toronto Shelter Support and Housing Administraion.
Raftis says every day, ten new asylum seekers are entering Toronto's shelter system. Mayor Tory says the city supports Canada’s efforts to welcome the refugee claimants but with so many entering the country, Toronto should not have to shoulder the financial burden alone.
“For property tax payers to bear that, even in a big city like Toronto, is a big burden and it’s not a burden, I believe, we should be sharing by ourselves when this is something that is a result of international circumstances and federal government policy, which we support,” Tory said.
Tory expects nearly 4,500 asylum seekers in Toronto’s shelter system by November. That would take up more than half of the available beds, a situation he describes as already at an emergency state.