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Feds announce additional $15M for shelter beds in Toronto

Last Updated Jan 26, 2019 at 4:22 pm EDT

YWCA Toronto director Nina Gorka adjusts the sheet on a bed in a women's shelter on Davenport Road on Jan. 19, 2019. CITYNEWS

The federal government has announced an additional $15 million in funding to help address the shortage of shelter beds in Toronto — a problem it acknowledged is partly due to asylum seekers.

“While the provision of affordable temporary housing has been a key challenge in Toronto for some time, the Government of Canada recognizes that there has been a greater demand for shelter space this past year due to the impacts of global migration,” the ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship said in a statement released Friday.

The funding is on top of the $11 million provided to the city last summer, but Mayor John Tory said the amount only covers last year’s expenses and more is needed.

“It is a solid start on our 2018 expenses, but … we will have expenses in 2019, and I look forward to working with the federal government and the other governments to make sure we have the support we need,” he told CityNews on Saturday.

“The federal government has control of the borders and of immigration and matters related to refugees and asylum claimants and, as a result, we believe they have a responsibility — the major responsibility — to help us look after people in terms of issues like shelter.”

The federal government said it would be working with the province to develop a “cost-sharing arrangement” for funding shelter space in the city.

“While Mayor Tory has been a particularly important partner, I continue to engage with Minister (Lisa) MacLeod and believe the government of Ontario is best placed to distribute funds for housing pressures,” Border Security Minister Bill Blair said in a statement.

“I look forward to continue working with Ontario.”

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