Two new studies by Employment and Social Development Canada show that an increasing number of newcomers to Canada are ending up homeless,
A National Shelter Study, which looked at federal data on shelter users between 2005 and 2016, found what it termed an “observable increase” in refugees using shelters.
In 2016, the study found, there were 2,000 refugees sleeping in shelters, not including those specifically for refugees.
That was an increase from 1,000 two years earlier when the figures were first tracked.
Tim Richter, president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, says many of the refugees are coming to places such as Toronto and Montreal, where the rental market is already tight.
“Homelessness is a function of housing affordability, availability and income,” Richter told Teresa Wright of Canadian Press.
“When you’re new to Canada, you generally don’t have the income to be able to buy a house, and there’s not enough affordable housing options,
The city of Toronto estimated in late last year that about 40 per cent of people using its shelters were refugees or asylum claimants.
The second study offered “a point-in-time” snapshot of homelessness in 61 communities across the country.
It found that 14 per cent of people who identified as homeless in 2018 were newcomers to Canada.
Of that total, eight per cent indicated they were immigrants, three per cent identified as refugees and four per cent as refugee claimants.
Both studies also found Canada’s Indigenous Peoples remain vastly over-represented among the country’s homeless population
Almost one-third of shelter users and those counted in the point-in-time report identified as Indigenous, despite making up only about five per cent of the national population.
It’s a consequence, Richter says, of multi-generational trauma endured by Indigenous populations in Canada, as outlined in the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the recently concluded inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.
With files from CP, CBC