Whitby: Support for newcomers ‘exhausted’ says Durham chair as he calls for aid

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Published July 12, 2023 at 11:56 am

Durham Region’s support for new-coming immigrants and refugees is “exhausted” according to Regional Chair John Henry as he calls for more aid from the provincial and federal governments.

The Region has worked to settle newcomers, including refugees and asylum seekers, through various programs for years. They, like most municipalities in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area, have expanded their services for newcomers as rates continued to increase. The services include initiatives to help people settle and emergency shelters

However, 2023 has seen a record-breaking influx of people moving to Durham who require these supports. As a result, Henry said, “We cannot keep up with this demand. We have exhausted the capacity in our system and any funding we had available to support newcomers.”

This has created the risk that newcomers will become homeless when they arrive in Durham.

Henry called on both the Canadian and Ontarian governments to step up and aid the Region in settling these newcomers as an emergency response. Our local programs have exceeded capacity; with unprecedented financial and occupancy pressures.

“Although we continue to advocate for urgent funding and access to housing facilities, we cannot support refugees and asylum-seekers—arriving at unprecedented numbers in Durham Region—without the support of our upper levels of government,” Henry concluded.

Durham Region’s population is ever-growing. Between 2016 and 2021, the population grew from nearly 646,000 to 697,000, a nearly eight per cent jump. Durham’s increase is higher than both the Ontario and Canadian averages, which both sit around five per cent.

This is only expected to accelerate until the population nearly doubles to 1.2 million people by 2040. While not all of these new arrivals will require these settlement services, the percentage who do is expected to remain steady.

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