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lllegals & Syrians — the Gift that Just Keeps on Taking

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lllegals & Syrians — the Gift that Just Keeps on Taking
Illegal Migrants Take a Toll on T.O. Shelters
by Sue-Ann Levy, Toronto Sun
March 18, 2017

It seems Canada’s lax border policies toward illegal migrants are taking their toll on the city’s emergency shelter system.

Figures provided to the Toronto Sun from city shelter staff show that 810 refugees accessed the city’s shelter system in January, jumping to 882 up until March 13.

In fact, shelter, support and housing spokesman Pat Anderson says refugee clients are being referred from two non-city funded organizations that offer “temporary accommodation and services” to refugees but “are full.”

“The numbers we are providing are those who identify as refugees on intake,” she says.

Mario Calla, executive director of COSTI Immigrant Services, insists this increase is not from government-sponsored Syrian refugees but “asylum seekers.

“When they come over the border, they’re not sponsored by government or private groups and so they have nowhere to go…some of them have ended up in shelters,” he said this past week. “All government-sponsored (Syrian) refugees are in their own homes, not in city shelters.”

Sun columnist Anthony Furey recently revealed that a crisis is brewing with illegal migrants crossing the border in between official ports of entry and exploiting a loophole in our immigration laws that allows them to file a refugee claim once in Canada.

Anderson says the city has added 400 more shelter beds to meet the increased demand and they continue to look for “more motel beds for refugees.”

Although motel beds operate more cheaply per night, at a $74.81 average per diem, those 400 extra beds are costing taxpayers roughly $900,000 per month.

Asked whether any extra money has been diverted from other shelter programs to accommodate the extra beds, Anderson said: “Not so far.”

And the cost just keeps on soaring. Wading through a myriad of acronyms for various types of refugees, Sue Ann Levy of the Toronto Sun estimates that the Syrians alone will have cost the taxpayers over $1-billion. That’s federal, provincial and municipal money. The exact threadbare pocket doesn’t really matter. It’s the same taxpayer.

T.O. Struggles to Absorb Refugees
by Sue-Ann Levy, Toronto Sun
March 18, 2017

The 2,200 government-sponsored Syrian refugees who have arrived on Toronto’s doorstep since last February have permanent housing and are being integrated into the community.

Community service providers — contacted this past week — also say after the big influx of fully government-subsidized refugees of last February, the plan is to resettle just 700 this year.


“The program continues but not with the same intensity as last year,” says Mario Calla, executive director of COSTI Immigrant Services, the agency charged with resettling the 2,200 government-sponsored refugees (or GARs) who have arrived in Toronto since February 2016.

That’s the good news.

Another 2,295 privately sponsored refugees (PSRs) have also come to Toronto in the past year, along with 431 known as Blended Visa Office-Referred (BOVR) refugees, part privately and part government-sponsored.

Based on the numbers posted on the Immigration and Citizenship Canada website (now three months old), Toronto has by far absorbed the most refugees in Canada, 10% of the GARs alone.

Which brings me to the less than positive news.

Untold millions of dollars have been spent and a jaw-dropping myriad of helping agencies have been involved in getting them settled since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne greeted the first planeload in mid-December of 2015 with expensive winter coats.

The actual money the feds have turned over to the GARs themselves and to COSTI and other agencies to resettle them remains a mystery. I tried for two days to get a response from Immigration Canada only to be informed late Friday they were still working on my request.

However, based on news reports of one year ago, the Liberals could end up spending far more than $1 billion when all is said and done, more than $100-million of that to settle Toronto’s 2,200 GARs alone.

It doesn’t end there.

Manuel Alas-Sevillano of Ontario’s citizenship and immigration ministry says they’ve committed $15 million in new funding to “enhance settlement and integration services” for the 17,000 refugees (both GARs and PSRs) accepted in this province.

That does not include free dental and health care provided under the Interim Federal Health program and OHIP, he confirmed.

Once their first 12 months in Canada are up, the feds no longer provide income support to the GARs and they “either have a job or they go on social assistance until their English level gets better,” says Calla.

That’s precisely what is happening. Calla says only about two out of 10 of the GARs have come here able to speak English, compared to 80% of the PSRs.

But even if a refugee is privately sponsored — and can speak English — government money has gone into easing their integration into the community with a fresh layer of bureaucrats created to do so.

At City Hall, the Toronto Newcomer Office which has grown from three staff in 2015 to six staffers this year and from a budget of $361,000 to $785,000.

City spokesman Jennifer Wing said the Newcomer office — which works “strategically” to support the resettlement of refugees but does not help refugees directly — discovered early on that PSRs needed services too.

Wing says the office itself doles out money to agencies like Lifeline Syria, Catholic Crosscultural Services and COSTI to “help refugee families directly” while managing an Interagency task force “to facilitate coordination and information sharing,” and organizing information fairs for private sponsors.

COSTI got $92,000 from the city, over and above the undisclosed federal money, to help move refugees into permanent housing. Lifeline Syria, which received $65,000 from the city of Toronto this past year, also only works with privately sponsored cases.

Spokesman Krystal Thomson says they’ve completed 384 cases involving 1,076 refugees while another 202 cases with 575 refugees are still in the pipeline waiting to be processed by the government.

In fact, Mayor John Tory, his wife and his sister have spent $27,000 to sponsor a refugee family through Lifeline Syria that has yet to arrive.

According to Tory, the family is “waiting in a refugee camp inside Turkey.” He believes that the delay is because the feds are taking a pause to allow refugees already in Canada to be absorbed.