Trudeau came to Hamilton with money, but not the $9M requested for refugees facing homelessness

Hamilton’s mayor asked the federal government for roughly $9 million last week for refugee and asylum seekers ending up in the shelter system or living on the streets. On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in town with money for housing, but not for that project. 

Last Tuesday, Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath sent a letter to Sean Fraser, Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, asking for $9 million to support people with refugee and asylum seeker status housed in the city’s emergency shelter system.

At a press conference in Hamilton Monday morning, Trudeau said he and the mayor have had a conversation about the money.

“Our governments are looking together for how we can work through all this,” he said.

“It is unacceptable that vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers are sleeping in the streets and we need to work together. We will be there to partner and make sure we can solve that.”

Mayor Horwath said she received a letter from minister Fraser and “We identified where some of the challenges lie and we are working together to try and resolve the challenges that exist.”

The next step would be for the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to put together a request to send to the federal government. 

The request would be made through the Interim Housing Assistance Program and if the federal government approves the request, the city would be reimbursed for the money it spends.

“There are many, many solutions and both the federal government and the City of Hamilton are working very hard to bring as many of those solutions to fruition as we possibly can and as quickly as we can,” she said.

Trudeau announced a roughly $45 million investment from the federal government to spend on four housing projects in the lower city. Trudeau said the money will go toward building and repairing 214 rental units.

Horwath said previously that the city’s emergency shelter system has housed 509 people with refugee and asylum seeker status since January and 202 in the last week alone.

One in five shelter beds are occupied by refugees and asylum seekers, she said.

Feds say province and cities are responsible

Bahoz Dara Aziz, press secretary for the federal Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said in an email housing and supports for asylum seekers are “the responsibility of provinces and municipalities.”

“We need full engagement from all levels of government as we work to ensure asylum seekers have a roof over their heads,” she said.

Dara Aziz said the federal government announced $212 million on July 18 to help house asylum seekers, adding to the almost $700 million in funding already provided.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 108.4 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced by the end of 2022, with almost a third of them considered refugees.

Experts previously told CBC the increase in Canada is linked to one central theme: as the number of global conflicts and crises rise, so will the number of people seeking asylum — not just in Canada, but anywhere they can find it.

Leave a Comment