Toronto asylum seekers relocated to churches and hotel rooms: “We need a reception centre and more social assistance”

CBC News

Many asylum seekers in Toronto that have been stranded on the streets of the city for weeks have been relocated, some going to two churches and others to temporary hotel rooms. Loly Rico, Executive Director of the FCJ Refugee Centre, talked about it on CBC Morning Live with host Juanita Taylor:


Juanita Taylor: We are joined by Loly Rico. She’s the Executive Director of the FCJ Refugee Centre. So, Loly,cyou’ve been spending time with the group of refugees that relocated to the churches?cHow are they doing right now?

Loly Rico: Well, at least they have a roof. And it’s really nice to see that the community and the civil society have been stepping up and helping them to stay in the church. It is a little bit unusual when you are not used to run more than 200 people, a little bit chaotic. But people have the possibility to have a place where they can sleep and also feel a little bit safe.

J. T.: And how would you like to see the three levels of government working together to solve this issue?

L. R.: One of the things that we have been proposing, and we really welcome that the mayor Olivia Chow proposed it, is the reception centre. While we are looking at the three levels of government, they can put a reception centre where refugee claimants can get there and they can have not just the possibility to be allocated for best, but also they can have all the services, housing, and also to help them through the refugee process. And I think that’s something that the three levels of government they should really put some a little more funding, as the the city and the province, right now, they are putting money to to start with the Canadian Ontario Housing Benefit. Because it’s just an emergency shelter, and after you need to find an affordable housing.

J. T.: While these churches and hotels have offered a short term housing solution, what long term solutions are needed to solve this problem?

L. R.: It’s two solutions that we will require. One is that they can have subsidies, like the Canadian Ontario Housing Benefit, that can cover and help them to to pay the rent. Because, right now, the affordability is really is not possible, and also that they can have access to rent income housing in a way that they can have a a housing where they can live with dignity.

The other element is that Toronto asylum seekers relocated to churches and hotel rooms, because at this moment, with the shelter allowance that they have is not possible to find [a house]. For example, a single person will receive $400. And right now, for a bed in Toronto, people is paying around $1000.

J. T.: Just one last quick question for you. What more needs to be done today?

L. R.: What we need to do is two things. One is to really organise and put together the reception centre. And second, also, to invite the developers, because there is a lot of construction happening in Toronto and they can assign some of their apartments for affordable housing for people who are in the shelter system.

J. T.: Thank you so much for your time this morning and for updating us on the current situation. We appreciate it very much.

L. R.: Thank you for the invitation.