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Peel Region accepts $7 million to help with asylum seekers suffering homelessness

Click to play video: 'Region of Peel accepts $7 million to aid asylum seekers suffering from homelessness'
Region of Peel accepts $7 million to aid asylum seekers suffering from homelessness
WATCH ABOVE: Councillors to the west of Toronto have voted to accept an offer of millions of dollars in federal funding to help with a homelessness crisis officials say is worsening. Sean O'Shea has the story – Nov 24, 2023

Councillors to the west of Toronto have voted to accept an offer of millions of dollars in federal funding to help with a homelessness crisis officials say is worsening.

On Thursday, the Region of Peel accepted $7 million for a reception centre to be built near Toronto Pearson International Airport with federal funding.

The new reception space will be designed to help asylum seekers in the region who are struggling to find housing as winter approaches, both local and federal politicians said.

The Region of Peel includes Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga.

The announcement comes a week after an asylum seeker was found dead at an encampment outside a shelter on Dundas Street in Mississauga.

A spokesperson for the Region of Peel said they could not share specific details of how the reception centre would operate or be developed, including when and where the reception shelter will be built. They said the region was working “as quickly as possible” on the project.

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“New sites are vital for asylum claimants facing persecution in their home countries and will ease the capacity burden on Peel’s emergency shelters,” the spokesperson told Global News.

Homelessness and housing services at the Region of Peel operate on a policy where no one who comes to seek shelter is turned away.

Recently, however, officials say the need has grown so dire they are simply not able to live up to their promise.

“We have run out of space, right? So as of this summer, although that’s our policy, we simply can’t meet it,” Sean Baird, Peel’s commissioner of human services, said in an interview with Global News.

“There simply aren’t enough hotels available that want to work with us. So we’ve had to start looking for alternatives.”

He said that, as winter sets in, the region’s policies may look “more like a humanitarian response” as they push to get large numbers of people in from the cold.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and federal immigration minister Marc Miller both celebrated the news that Peel would be hosting a new reception space near the airport.

“This agreement will save lives,” Brown said in a post on social media.

Miller said he was “very happy” Peel had accepted his offer.

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“Now more than ever in the face of a global migration crisis we need to work closer together,” he said in a post.

On Friday morning, Mississauga Coun. Dipika Damerla called on the federal government to provide significantly more money,

“This year alone the Region of Peel is spending close to $20 M to support asylum seekers and expects to spend significantly more next year,” Damerla wrote in a statement

“So, the $7 million announced today is simply not enough.”

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