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Refugees forced to sleep on Toronto streets share their experiences and messages for the government

At Toronto’s shelter intake centre located at Peter and Richmond streets, people who came to Canada as refugees have been forced to sleep on the street due to a lack of resources within the city’s shelter system. 

An emergency meeting is being held today to address the issue, set to be attended by municipal, provincial and federal officials.

On Wednesday, newly sworn-in Mayor Olivia Chow spoke on the issue, calling on the provincial and federal levels of government to do more to help asylum seekers. 

“We know that our shelters are full, we also know that a third of the residents in shelters right now are refugees,” Chow said.

“We also know that refugees are also a federal responsibility. We need at least $160 million from the federal government to help us in sheltering these refugees.”

“Immediately, we need the government, the federal government and the provincial government, to come up with a plan,” the new mayor continued, adding that the plan must provide shelter right away.

The Brandon Gonez Show visited the downtown centre to speak with people who came to Canada for a better life and have since been forced to sleep on city streets. 

Asylum seekers shared that it has been traumatizing being forced to sleep on the streets, dealing with extreme heat, rain, and other unpleasant conditions.

“I seek asylum, but the city has no more shelter for asylum seekers,” one man from Nigeria said.

“This morning they took one person to the hospital because of the cold when the rain fell on him. After that he fell sick.”

The man told The Brandon Gonez Show that city officials gave them contact information for other shelters, but was told that those locations also don’t have any vacancies after contacting them.

“We arrived on the tenth of June,” shared another man, who came to Canada as a refugee from Uganda, and has been on the streets ever since.

He explained that the situation on Peter St. has deteriorated since his arrival, with more people being turned away and left with nowhere else to go.

So what keeps him going? 

“The hope I had when I was coming is the same hope that keeps me going.”

Those living on the street shared that Good Samaritans have been bringing them food and water, but their real struggle is finding somewhere to live. 

The Brandon Gonez Show has reached out to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for a statement on the ongoing crisis.

On Sunday, a full-length episode exploring this issue, including exclusive interviews with those who are living outside of Peter Street’s shelter intake centre, will be released on The Brandon Gonez Show’s YouTube page. These brave people shared their hopes for a solution, messages for the prime minister, and more. 



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