News release: September 14, 2023
More help needed to support asylum claimants in Peel
BRAMPTON, ON (September 14, 2023) – Peel is proud to welcome people seeking safety in Canada. Recently, Peel Region has seen a sharp increase in the number of asylum claimants needing emergency shelter, far surpassing historical norms. While Peel has mobilized to provide temporary, emergency shelter to asylum claimants, this has caused further financial and operational strain on Peel's emergency shelter system, which is currently operating at a 260% occupancy capacity.
As a service manager, Peel Region oversees the affordable housing and homelessness support system. This includes owning and running temporary, emergency shelters and overflow sites that offer reprieve from crises and precarious housing situations to specific populations (i.e., families, youth, singles, domestic violence survivors).
Peel's emergency shelters have long been used to temporarily house asylum claimants who find themselves homeless while trying to settle in Canada. Historically, asylum claimants account for 5% of Peel's shelter population. As of September 14, 2023, 701 asylum claimants are temporarily residing in Peel's emergency shelters, accounting for 58% of its shelter population.
The costs of Peel's response have amounted to approximately $2.5M per month - and approximately $15M for 2023.
In July 2023, the federal government announced $212 million of additional funding through their Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP) for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. The City of Toronto was allocated $97 million of this funding. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) asked all other municipalities, including Peel, to submit a request for funding, with no guaranteed allocation amount.
Peel informed IRCC of its intention to seek IHAP funding on July 28, 2023. Though essential, this funding alone will not alleviate the strains on Peel's shelter system and support its goal of helping residents get and keep affordable housing.
At their meeting today, Regional Council has directed Peel staff to strengthen its advocacy at all administrative and political levels to achieve the necessary funding support to maintain Peel's continued response to this crisis situation, while collaborating with community agencies and other stakeholders to co-design a long-term, sustainable model that will provide emergency shelter to asylum claimants.
We must be nimble in the face of global issues that impact our service delivery. We continue to rely on the expertise and dedication of our staff and community partners to help residents get and keep affordable housing. This collaborative spirit will also help us design a sustainable response to a growing number of asylum claimants needing emergency shelter in Peel, a response we can implement with appropriate levels of sustainable funding from the federal and provincial governments.
Nando Iannicca, Regional Chair, Peel Region
I applaud Peel Region’s staff and our community partners who have swiftly and effectively responded to an unprecedented crisis. Unfortunately, our current response is not sustainable, and we must propose an achievable alternative with appropriate funding from our government partners in the best interest of asylum claimants and Peel residents needing housing support.
Sean Baird, Commissioner of Human Services, Peel Region
Communications Advisor, Housing Services
Region of Peel
About Peel Region
Peel Region works with residents and partners to create a healthy, safe and connected Community for Life for approximately 1.5 million people and over 175,000 businesses in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the Town of Caledon. Peel's services touch the lives of residents every day. For more information about the Region of Peel, explore peelregion.ca and follow us on Twitter @regionofpeel and Instagram @peelregion.ca.