Federal gov't should do more to address shortages – mayors

by Ephraim Vecina31 Jan 2019

The mayors of Canada’s largest and most in-demand housing markets called on the federal government to do its part in addressing the housing supply shortages brought about by the recent influx of asylum-seekers.

Toronto mayor John Tory stressed that solving the issue goes beyond the reach of just the municipal or provincial levels, and argued that the Liberal administration should also “share the burden”.

“[The federal government] makes the decisions about what happens at the border and Toronto is very supportive, for example, of admitting refugees,” Tory said, as quoted by CBC News.

“We’ve had a historically compassionate approach in this country which we support. But the federal government, who admits refugees to the country, also has to take a hand in helping to house and settle them.”

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson stated that in 2017 alone, his jurisdiction spent around $5.7 million in refugee housing costs, and noted that the city might have had a similar expense volume in 2018.

“Toronto received $11 million in July to deal with refugee claimants. Our city has received nothing,” he admitted. “What often happens is a government will make a decision at a senior level and the consequences trickle down to us.”

Read more: The waning of Vancouver and the waxing of Toronto

Earlier this week, the Liberals announced an additional $114.7 million in housing spending, a large proportion of which will be dedicated to compensation for markets currently burdened by the sudden need for temporary refugee residences.

The tranche will be used in the development of “federal interim lodging facilities” meant as an inventory stop-gap, The Canadian Press reported.

The funding follows the $50 million already offered last summer for purpose-built refugee housing in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

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