600 refugees crammed into Toronto hotel despite waiting sponsors

A Toronto hotel has become home to more than 600 government-sponsored Syrian refugees, leaving them feeling squeezed, while Canadians living in the hotel say they’re being pushed out to make room for more.

See Full Article

And it’s all despite the fact that private refugee sponsor groups say they are prepared to take on these government-sponsored refugees, but have been turned away.

Refugee Ali Hamoud and his 12 children have been living in the Toronto Plaza Hotel for three weeks. He managed to find a house, but said it was too expensive, so he will continue to stay in the hotel.

Ghassan Al Kakouni, his wife and three children are finally moving into a Mississauga, Ont., apartment after a month in the hotel.

Al Kakouni said that hotel residents are thankful for all the help they have received with things like English and health care, but that the close quarters are creating tensions for some of the families.

Immigration minister John McCallum said Tuesday that connecting government-sponsored refugees with private sponsor groups prepared to receive them "definitely makes sense,” but added “there are some other issues involved.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday that her government had approached the federal government to ask them to do just that.

Humaira Khan, from the Toronto-area charity Partners in Humanity, said there are 100 sponsor groups ready to be matched with Syrian families, so they could help get 500 people out of the hotel.

“They are safe here, they are warm here, they are being fed,” she said of the hotel. “But they need to start their lives. The children need to go to school.”

Hotel resident Brian McIssac said that seeing them move on could help him too, since the hotel has asked him to vacate the room he’s lived in for a year and a half.

“Why did Mr. Trudeau bring in all these people and start throwing out Canadians, into the street?” he said, adding other residents have also been asked to move.

“I have nothing against these people, but why should we have to leave?”

The owner of the hotel restaurant said she too would like to see the refugees find permanent housing as soon as possible.

Manjit Sangh said her regular customers have stopped coming and that she has not been compensated.

“It’s really slow,” she said.

The influx of refugees has put such pressure on the tight rental markets that settlement agencies in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa have requested the government slow down the intake. So far, however, they have refused.

More housing is also available at military bases in Ontario but that has not yet been used.

A total of 13,764 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada between Nov. 4 and Jan 25, of which 7,926 are government-assisted, 4,985 are privately sponsored and 853 are in a blended program, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

With a report from CTV National’s Peter Akman



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Saudi Arabia: G-20 gathering of world leaders to be virtual

    World News CTV News
    DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -- Saudi Arabia, which is presiding over the Group of 20 countries this year, said Monday that the upcoming November gathering of world leaders will be held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic. Source
  • Australian park owner fined $3.4M over 4 river ride deaths

    World News CTV News
    BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA -- An Australian theme park owner was fined 3.6 million Australian dollars (CAD$3.4 million) on Monday for safety breaches that led to the deaths of four people on a river rapids ride in 2016. Source
  • Musicians barred from regular shows get creative during COVID-19

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- COVID-19 measures have made the world a little quieter, as public health measures limit large-scale performances for bands, choirs and musicians, but some Manitoba musicians are finding ways to keep the music going. At Oak Park High School in Winnipeg, students can’t sing ‘O’ Canada’ in the classroom, but band practice is still going on. Source
  • Organizer arrested after driving car into California protest

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- An organizer of a Southern California demonstration against racism was in jail Sunday on suspicion of attempted murder after authorities say she drove through a crowd and struck two counterprotesters. Tatiana Turner, 40, was arrested Saturday in Yorba Linda after speeding from a parking lot when her car was surrounded by shouting counterprotesters. Source
  • New York Times report claims Trump tax avoidance, which he dismisses as 'fake news'

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, according to a report Sunday in The New York Times. Trump, who has fiercely guarded his tax filings and is the only president in modern times not to make them public, paid $750 US in taxes to the federal government the year he was elected, 2016, and $750 US again his first year in office. Source
  • Members fighting sale of MEC say planned COO hire clashes with Canadian company's values

    Canada News CBC News
    Members of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) fighting its takeover by an American investment firm say the hiring of an executive from a U.S. company that makes footwear for the military and police clashes with the company's values. Jay Taylor, who is currently listed as the CEO of LALO Tactical on its web page, is in line to be MEC's president and chief operating officer if the sale goes through to Kingswood Capital Management, the Los Angeles-based firm confirmed to CBC News in an email. Source
  • Sask. reports 15 new COVID-19 cases, cluster among Yorkton students

    Canada News CTV News
    REGINA -- The Saskatchewan government reported 15 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases to 144. There is one new case in the north central region, one in the Saskatoon area, eight in the central east zone and four in the Regina area. Source
  • Recall issued on Quebec-made spaghetti sauce that may contain dangerous bacteria

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- A spaghetti sauce sold in Quebec has been recalled by food safety officials because it may contain dangerous bacteria. The sauce, sold by Erabliere Godbout may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum or foodborne botulism, the recall from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reads. Source
  • One new case of COVID-19 reported Sunday in Newfoundland and Labrador

    Canada News CTV News
    Full coverage at CTVNews.ca/Coronavirus Tracking every case of COVID-19 in Canada Handwashing, distancing and mask-wearing all drastically cut risk of catching COVID-19: research Source
  • Russian dissident Navalny recovering faster than expected

    World News CTV News
    BERLIN -- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is recovering from the suspected assassination attempt last month faster than expected, one of his aides said Sunday. Navalny, who collapsed on a plane from Siberia to Moscow on Aug. Source