Refugees now make up 70% of shelter population in Mississauga and Brampton


Published March 25, 2024 at 1:01 pm

refugees in shelters 70% mississauga brampton

Over 1,200 households of asylum seekers are now being housed in Mississauga and Brampton shelters, making up some 70 per cent of all shelter stays.

The updated numbers come from the Region of Peel, which just last week renewed a funding plea to the provincial and federal governments saying the already underfunded shelter system is running approximately 350 per cent over capacity.

At least 70 per cent of all shelter residents are asylum claimants, the region tells That number accounts for some 1,251 “asylum claimant households” in Peel’s shelter system, which can include individuals as well as entire family units.

More claimants are turning to shelters after landing in Canada, and Director of the Peel Newcomers Strategy Group Jessica Kwik says Mississauga and Brampton are popular resettlement locations due to a number of factors, including proximity to Pearson International Airport and familiar cultural communities.

The influx of asylum seekers coupled with a nationwide housing crisis has led to many turning to shelters. Two asylum seekers from Africa have died in recent months after sleeping outdoors, and plans are underway for a new asylum claimant welcome centre in Mississauga.

Ottawa has committed $7 million in funding for the welcome centre project, but the region is asking for another $10 million in capital funds and $9.3 annually to get the centre built and keep it operational.

The region says it spends $62,000 per asylum claimant and is calling on higher orders of government to come through with the funding, which can help with legal services, income and employment supports, settlement services, housing supports and health services.

Local funds are being used to help the region come to grips with the crisis, with Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown saying the city shelled out $26 million last year and is on track to spend another $60 million in 2024 to help deal with the shelter crisis.

“The Reception Centre can only be built if the provincial and federal governments fully fund it,” the region said. “Without that commitment, Peel will be unable to action its sustainable model. We hope to be able to put our model into action as soon as possible.”

The Region says it will still move ahead with asylum claimant-focused shelter facilities even if the feds or the province don’t come through with more funding, putting even more stress on the region’s homelessness supports which are already “nearing collapse,” according to Commissioner of Human Services Sean Baird.

A recent survey showed Ontario is home to the highest number of permanent resident refugees in Canada, sitting at an estimated 39,800 individuals. In September, the Region said refugees made up close to 60 per cent of the shelter population which was around 260 per cent over capacity at the time.

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