Toronto, Montreal Facing Housing Shortage Creating Challenges for Migrants
As the end of summer approaches, many migrants who have made their way to Canadian cities are facing issues with housing as they are about to lose their temporary lodging at university dorms in major cities like Toronto and Montreal. Students will return to class this fall, displacing the migrants who had been using these dorms as a first landing place in Canada.
The influx of asylum seekers from the United States into Canada since last summer is shining a light on the already prevalent housing crisis in Toronto. While others believe asylum seekers are at an all-time high and causing this issue, the real problem has been brewing within the housing market, ready to boil over.
In reality, the number of irregular migrants crossing the border into Canada has fallen over the past several months. Numbers from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada show that there were 1,263 irregular border crossers in June 2018, down from 1,869 recorded in May 2018, the month prior.
Experts in global migration are warning people not to “scapegoat” refugee claimants for pre-existing societal problems, such as a housing shortage. Jean-Nicolas Beuze, the UN refugee agency's representative in Canada, says that the influx of asylum seekers crossing from the U.S. into Canada is a slow trickle compared to the numbers crossing into Europe from the Middle East, for example.
Beuze reminded people that asylum seekers often become economically self-sufficient quickly, finding jobs and their own housing. Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to the minister of social development, has commented in support of Beuze’s claim, agreeing that the housing shortages in Canada’s major cities have predated this influx of refugees.
"The situation confronting Toronto is not a crisis in the refugee system. The situation facing Toronto is a housing crisis and there has been a housing crisis in Toronto since the mid-1990s," Vaughan said.
Canada’s three federal ministers responsible for managing the influx of asylum seekers, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and newly appointed Border Security Minister Bill Blair all say that recent reports illustrating a decrease, not increase in the numbers of irregular migrants show that the federal government’s strategy to manage and process these refugees is working. "There is a challenge, but it is not a crisis," Goodale said at a House of Commons committee meeting in July.
Furthermore, the federal government has earmarked $50 million for housing in regions of Canada taking in asylum seekers, with $11 million going to Toronto. Vaughan said the government is working to the system of temporarily housing migrants and also looking at helping refugee claimants transfer from big cities to other locations within Canada that may not have the same housing strains.