Ontario Investing to Find Long-term Housing for Asylum Claimants in the Region of Durham

Increased support will help municipalities and asylum claimants 

NEWS                                                                                                                       October 17, 2023

DURHAM REGION — The Ontario government is investing $42 million through the Canada Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) to support impacted municipalities across the province in providing urgent assistance to a rapidly growing number of asylum claimants and other at-risk populations.

This investment in 2023-24 includes $826,000 for the Regional Municipality of Durham, which will help move more people into housing and free up existing shelter spaces. The funding allocation reflects the estimated share of asylum claimants in the area and their relative impact on local services, based on provincial social assistance data.

“The $826,000 investment through the Canada Ontario Housing Benefit program will help ensure that the Region of Durham continues to have the capacity to provide asylum seekers with the support, and resources they need,” said Whitby MPP Lorne Coe and Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier. “I look forward to continuing to work with Regional Chair Henry and my fellow Durham Region MPPs as together we create an environment that allows everyone in the Region to thrive and grow.”

“With a growing number of asylum seekers arriving in Ajax and across Ontario, it’s important that we take action to provide shelter for those that need it,” said Patrice Barnes, MPP for Ajax. “The Canada Ontario Housing Benefit has historically provided rapid assistance to a number of asylum claimants, which is why I am happy to see this $42 million investment into the program across Ontario with $826,000 aimed towards the Durham Region.”

“Our government’s investment underscores the urgency of this situation, aiming to assist asylum seekers as they transition into more stable housing while alleviating the burden on municipal shelter systems,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, MPP for Pickering-Uxbridge. “Our commitment to those seeking a secure place to call home remains firm.”

“Our government’s efforts toward building a strong, secure, and prosperous Ontario have made our province the destination of choice for many new immigrants and asylum seekers who wish to come here in search of a better life,” said Todd McCarthy, MPP for Durham. “This allocated $826,000 will assist Durham Region in providing critical supports to the rapidly growing number of claimants in our province and freeing-up shelter space. We continue to strongly advocate for the federal government’s support to our municipalities and asylum seekers as they look to integrate into Ontario and build a new life.”

“I am thankful our government is investing an additional $42 million through the CHOB program to support asylum claimants and other at-risk populations who have come to Ontario hoping for a better life” said MPP David Piccini. “I know this $826,000 of funding for Durham Region will help support and mediate the rapidly increasing number of asylum claimants and ensure they are able to build the life they deserve”.

“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, 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. That’s just unacceptable. We need all levels of government working together to tackle this crisis.”  

The province continues to advocate strongly for Ontario municipalities and service managers to ensure they receive their fair share of federal funding to address the significant, ongoing rise in asylum claimants. 

“Our government is stepping up to help municipalities deal with the pressures they are facing due to increased numbers of asylum claimants,” said Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We are committed to working constructively with our municipal partners, but we also firmly believe the federal government has a responsibility to step up as well and support municipalities in dealing with this crisis.”

Asylum claimants are individuals seeking asylum in Canada based on a fear of persecution in their home country. They are ineligible for most federal support programs, such as financial assistance and settlement and language training services. They are different from persons who arrive in Canada having already been recognized as refugees, whose arrival to Canada as permanent residents allows them to qualify for federal supports.
This year alone, Ontario could receive more than 72,000 asylum claimants – nearly twice as many as last year.