Toronto Mayor John Tory is calling for immediate action on the part of the federal government to step up and provide further assistance to support the influx of refugees and asylum seekers in the city.
“We have exhausted our available sites, our resources and our personnel,” Tory told reporters at city hall ahead of Tuesday’s council meeting.
“We need the other levels of government to step up and assist Toronto in a true partnership and I would say that primary leadership and partnership role in that regard rests with the government of Canada.”
The federal government announced earlier this month that Ontario will receive $11 million of the $50 million to help pay for some of the costs of asylum seekers illegally crossing the Canada-U.S. border.
But Tory said although the money is appreciated, there still is a lack of direction and leadership when it comes to housing new arrivals.
“They should be stepping forward and saying we have a place or series of places where we can actually take a degree of this responsibility on and help Toronto to do the right thing for these families,” Tory said.
In a staff report to be discussed at Tuesday’s council meeting, there are currently more than 3,000 refugees and asylum seekers using the city’s shelter system, and temporary dormitories at two Toronto colleges used to house 800 people must be vacated by August 9.
“Although an exhaustive search for additional shelter capacity is being pursued with federal and provincial colleagues, still no appropriate sites for additional shelter space for refugee/asylum claimants have been identified,” the report said.
VIDEO: Influx of refugee claimants putting pressure on shelter system in Toronto
“All the more concerning is the fact that, historically, the flow of refugee/asylum claimants has increased significantly towards the end of June.”
Tory said that the level of refugees in Toronto has reached a tipping point and the shelter system cannot handle the pressure any further. Officials said the city has increased its budget by $64.5 million to provide shelter and housing this year.
WATCH: Toronto wants help housing asylum seekers, refugees
“I would say that they are morally and practically speaking, sensibly speaking, when we have a situation like this — that is a result of policies that we support, but nonetheless federal policies, they have an absolute moral and sensible and practical obligation to step up and take some very practical responsibility with us,” Tory said.
The city staff report recommends that non-municipal facilities and human resources personnel are needed outside of Toronto’s shelter system to house those vacating the dormitories in August.
VIDEO: City of Toronto responds to influx of refugee claimants