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November 11, 2019

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Promises to Provide Resources to Fund the Development of Temporary Housing for Asylum Seekers Across Canadian Provinces

Posted by Jessica Templeman - Bellissimo Law Group PC

It is perhaps well known that residents of Canada’s largest cities currently face significant constraints in accessing affordable housing. The lack in supply of rentals in Toronto specifically was confirmed by the Canadian Centre of Economic Analysis, the Canadian Urban Institute and the City of Toronto in their Toronto Housing Market Analysis.[1] For populations with precarious living arrangements, wait times for social housing in this city range from anywhere between 5 to 7 years.[2] As a result, shelters in the city are increasingly overpopulated and overstretched.

Asylum seekers are amongst this population subject to precarity, seeking out shelter resources due to a lack of access to affordable housing. In recognition of this problem, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced in August 2019 that $17 million in funding would be provided by the agency to the City of Toronto specifically in order to attempt to address the limitations facing the shelter system in the city. Where the city is unable to support the additional bodies, funding will be used to transport migrants to neighboring cities with the ability to provide interim housing support.[3] Funding was additionally provided by IRCC to the City of Hamilton and the Region of Peel in August 2019 in the amounts of $220, 000 and $2.2million (respectively), in order to support the development of additional interim housing.[4] Finally, IRCC’s 2019-2020 and 2012-2022 budget promises to provide a portion of its approximately $2.1 billion in resources to funding the development of temporary housing for asylum seekers across Canadian provinces and municipalities.[5]

Support from the Federal government for the development of housing for at least asylum seekers is certainly a bright spot in the otherwise gloomy outlook on housing in large Canadian cities. The problem is likely only to get worse with population growth; Toronto, for example, is projected to grow by 3.9 million by 2041, primarily through the influx of external migrants (including asylum seekers) to the city.[6] Data from the Toronto Housing Market Analysis demonstrates that:

… the geographic distribution and proportions of low-income immigrants suggest that immigrants, especially within their first 10 years of arrival are more likely to struggle with finding affordable, suitable housing.

This influx will of course introduce a significant demand on housing, including in particular social housing. Significant long-term solutions are required to support all current (and incoming) residents in big Canadian cities, amongst a variety of sectors, including municipal, provincial and federal government, community organizations and private industry. Otherwise, the Canadian Centre of Economic Analysis warns: “Unremedied, the housing situation in Toronto will produce consequential challenges for equity, cohesion, and economic prosperity in the city,” the research team warns.”[7]

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