London taxpayers paying M a year as asylum seekers crowd out shelter spaces
London taxpayers paying M a year as asylum seekers crowd out shelter spaces

The cost of sheltering asylum seekers in London, Ont. has reached a staggering $1 million within a year but the federal government is alleging that the southwestern Ontario city hasn’t been upfront about requesting aid to handle the evolving situation. 

London has disputed this, alleging it has been vocal about the need for federal government assistance. 

According to the London Free Press, London Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos and federal authorities allege they have not received any communication from London city hall regarding reimbursement for asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers have commandeered 11.9% of overnight shelter stays, a staff report slated for discussion during Monday’s city council meeting says.

These figures, spanning 11 months from May 2023 to March 2024 offer a glimpse into the strain faced by London’s shelter system due to overwhelming refugee and asylum seeker intake. 

City staff tracked the numbers: 123 asylum claimants found refuge within the city’s 306 shelter beds, accounting for a total of 11,073 overnight stays.

Taxpayers are billed $96.99 daily per bed, totalling a jaw-dropping $1.07 million. And that’s merely the tip of the iceberg—additional funds, approximately $31,000, were dished out on hotel rooms for migrants.

Yet, the scope of the crisis may be even more troubling. City officials suspect that the actual number of refugees seeking shelter could surpass the recorded figures. 

Staff reported some migrants may be fearful of repercussions and as a result, have hesitated to disclose their presence officially. 

London city council commissioned an internal study in November to size up the scale of the issue. 

In a bid to alleviate the mounting pressures, Ottawa recently pledged $212 million to cities nationwide.

Ottawa promised the funding would offset the costs associated with housing newcomers. However, the path to accessing these funds isn’t very clear as other municipalities struggle to get the federal Liberals to fulfill its pledge. 

As recently reported by True North, the City of Ottawa has requested an additional $32 million from the Liberal government to accommodate the increasing influx of asylum seekers, as new data reveals that half of the capital’s homeless shelters are currently occupied by new immigrants and refugee claimants.

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