There’s been a new development in the plight of about 200 mostly African refugee claimants who were literally sleeping in the streets of downtown Toronto for weeks: many of these refugee claimants were recently relocated and are now residing in churches. Earlier this week, community organizations and faith groups bused the refugee claimants from their makeshift tent city at the corner of Peter and Richmond Streets, transporting them to two churches in north Toronto, Revivaltime Tabernacle Downsview Church and Dominion Church International.
As well, the federal government, no doubt suffering from a well-earned public relations black eye, finally stepped up to the plate to provide funding to municipalities struggling with the influx of refugee claimants.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said that $212 million is being earmarked for the Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP) which is slated to last until next March. IHAP works on a cost-sharing basis with municipalities and provinces to provide temporary housing to those migrants seeking asylum.
Stated Fraser: "Our modelling demonstrates this should more than cover the cost of interim housing for the people who are currently being denied access to the shelter system by the City of Toronto.”
Fraser, alas, neglected to mention two important reasons why migrants are being “denied access to the shelter system” in Toronto. For starters, all 9,000 shelter beds in the city are fully occupied, with one-third of those beds already accommodating refugee claimants. Secondly, this influx of migrants is unquestionably the fault of the Trudeau Liberals. Immigration is a federal responsibility; the feds have turned a blind eye to border security for years now; and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself has taken to social media in the past, actively encouraging migration to Canada.
For Fraser to accuse municipalities of “denying” migrants access to shelters that are already jam-packed is a bit rich, even by Liberal standards.
Recently, we dropped by Revivaltime Tabernacle Downsview Church and interviewed pastor Judith James. Pastor James said the refugee claimants are grateful to finally have a roof over their heads and access to showers. She also maintains that they bring with them skillsets and that they will contribute to society once they are given citizenship.
However, there is an odd sidebar story to this ongoing saga. On Tuesday evening, Salim Sagar, who was serving as the spokesman for the refugee claimants when they were camped out at 129 Peter St., visited Revivaltime Tabernacle Downsview Church. However, he was met with a hostile reception, as a man told Sagar he had to leave the property immediately.
In a social media post, Sagar states that the Revivaltime church doesn’t “want people to be involved because [the church is] trying to get government funding and don’t want to include [anybody else]… I’ve spent 15K of my own money, and they [church] came in the last 2-3 days with media and stole all the glory. But I don’t care as long as my brothers and sisters are good.”
Pastor James declined to comment on Sagar’s allegations.