Province offers $2.1 million to provide long-term housing for refugees in Mississauga and Brampton


Published September 19, 2023 at 12:20 pm

The Ontario government is offering $2.1 million in funding to help house refugees in Peel Region, comprised of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.

In total, the province has said it will provide $42 million through the Canada Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) program to support Ontario cities as they attempt to provide long-term housing and social assistance to a rapidly growing number of asylum claimants and other at-risk populations.

$2,110,000 in funding will go to Peel Region.

Of the 23 regions/municipalities set to receive funding, Peel will receive the third highest amount, behind Toronto ($26,420,000) and York Region ($2,355,500).

“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.”

The province expects the funding to assist approximately 4,000 new households and free up existing shelter spaces in impacted communities.

Peel council has recently asked staff to push for funding from higher levels of government to help cope with a refugee shelter crisis that’s currently impacting shelters in Mississauga and Brampton.

According to statement from the Region, shelters in the two cities are overloaded and running at 260 per cent capacity due to a significant increase in asylum seekers who require emergency shelter. As of Sept. 14, 701 asylum claimants live in Peel’s emergency shelters, costing the region about $2.5 million monthly and approximately $15 million for 2023.

“I applaud Peel Region’s staff and our community partners who have swiftly and effectively responded to an unprecedented crisis,” Sean Baird, commissioner of human services, said in a statement issued last week.

“Unfortunately, our current response is not sustainable, and we must propose an achievable alternative with appropriate funding from our government partners in the best interest of asylum claimants and Peel residents needing housing support.”

Peel isn’t the only area of Ontario struggling to house asylum seekers — leaders in Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara Falls and several other municipalities have asked for financial support from the government to deal with the increasing number of refugees ending up in shelters.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow called the situation “desperate” and said refugee claimants could account for half of the city’s homeless shelter population by the end of the year.

“The Canadian government is failing to fully fund the municipal front line that Canada relies on to welcome and settle newcomers,” read a statement from Ontario’s Big City Mayors, who said “municipalities can no longer keep up” with the recent influx of refugees fleeing conflict in their home countries.

The provincial government says the number of asylum claims made in Ontario nearly doubled between 2012 and 2022. In 2023 alone, Ontario could receive more than 72,000 asylum claimants – nearly twice as many as last year.

The full allocation of funds is as follows:

  • City of Toronto (including a $6.67 million municipal contribution): $26,420,000
  • Regional Municipality of York: $2,355,500
  • Regional Municipality of Peel: $2,110,000
  • City of Ottawa: $1,801,700
  • City of London: $1,187,500
  • Regional Municipality of Niagara: $1,147,900
  • City of Hamilton: $1,076,400
  • City of Windsor: $874,100
  • Regional Municipality of Durham: $826,000
  • Regional Municipality of Waterloo: $724,500
  • Regional Municipality of Halton: $685,500
  • County of Simcoe: $506,400
  • City of Kingston: $399,600
  • County of Wellington: $335,500
  • City of Brantford: $317,000
  • City of Peterborough: $271,800
  • City of Cornwall: $249,800
  • County of Dufferin: $130,800
  • Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board: $50,000
  • County of Grey: $50,000
  • County of Norfolk: $50,000
  • City of St. Thomas: $50,000
  • Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board: $50,000

The Canada Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) is a program meant to provide households with a portable housing benefit to assist with rental costs in the private housing market. The benefit is tied to the household and can be used to help pay rent anywhere in Ontario.

With files from The Canadian Press, Ashley Newport, Christl Dabu, Don Redmond and Glenn Hendry

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