Winter respite centre opens at Toronto’s Exhibition Place


Prime minister Justin Trudeau is in Toronto this morning and will be meeting with the city’s mayor Olivia cha now the meeting comes as Toronto finds itself dealing with a growing problem to help the homeless stay warm as the temperature gets colder here Toronto is now asking the federal government to do

More to fund its shelter system and today the City opens a new warming Center that will eventually accommodate 240 people Megan Fitzpatrick joins me now from that site so good morning to you Megan tell us more about Toronto’s winter plan and the opening of this new space that you’re

At yeah we got more details yesterday from the city Travis on uh additional efforts the city will be making this winter to provide warm spaces for people experiencing homelessness they first unveiled a plan in October and they’ve now made some adjustments to it and one of those adjustments is opening this

Space at the Better Living Center we’ll give you a look inside at uh what they’re doing here they’ve set up some CS um and this will be a 24hour a day 7 days a week respit Center they’re calling it um they are going to open this gradually so start welcoming

About 40 people per day starting today and over the coming days eventually they say they’ll ramp up the capacity to have about 240 people in here at a time and this will operate until early March so this is a new addition to the winter plan and then they also announced some

Other uh initiatives including a respit center particular clearly for youth that will be operated in partnership with Covenant House um also the warming centers will be uh opening when the temperature is at -5° C and they announc they’re also extending some of the hours at the city’s 10 dropin centers now uh the

Demand for these spaces as we know will grow uh and Rise throughout the winter as those temperatures drop and people who work in this sector Outreach workers saying while these efforts are are welcome they’re really not enough and there need to be longer term solutions to provide housing for people take a

Listen to what this Outreach uh worker said earlier today on News Network one of the things that the city talked about yesterday was that they’re going to add more shelter beds but they don’t say what they’re doing by is that they’re actually going to push beds closer

Together in order to add more beds and so what that means is you’re basically sleeping on a cot beside a total stranger in a large dorm setting that’s that’s why people don’t want to go in there and so what we really need is actual Upstream Solutions we desperately

Need affordable gear to income housing and we really have not seen the speed um to build those as as much as we need and the city is saying they they they are stretched that On Any Given night upwards of 10,000 people uh are being provided shelter either through City operative facilities or through

Other Partnerships like with the Red Cross um and they’re saying uh close to 50% % of those people are Refugee claimants and that has been an increasing Trend uh in in Toronto in recent months um so City officials saying uh they’re working as hard as

They can to do as much as they can but it’s not enough they say On Any Given night upwards of 200 people who are seeking a bed in a shelter are turned away Travis and as we said Megan uh Olivia Chow will be meeting with Justin Trudeau uh at 11:45 a.m. eastern time

What does Toronto want want from the federal government there’s two key asks they want um from Ottawa one is an extension of the Canada housing benefit program uh this is something that Toronto says has been very successful and very helpful in terms of getting people who are using the shelter system into permanent

Housing it’s funding that helps Bridge those costs uh to get them into housing and some of that funding that had been flowing to Toronto from Ottawa ran out a few month months ago last summer and then the province and the city stepped up to keep funding it and the city is

Saying that funding is due to run out in March and they would like Ottawa uh to resume funding send more money to Toronto for that program because it not only gives permanent housing for people who need it but then it would relieve pressure on the shelter system the other

Key thing they want is money um to provide shelter to these Refugee claimants who are arriving in Toronto the city says immigration is federal jurisdiction yet the city of Toronto has been paying the bill for these shelter spaces and they would like to be reimbursed $200 million for this past

Year and they want the federal government to send about $250 million to Toronto for next year here’s some of what city officials are saying about this request City of Toronto cannot do this alone specifically when almost half of those beds are currently in use by folks who are fleeing different very

Challenging situations around the world we want to welcome them and we want to support them but fundamentally we believe that the federal government has the Juris jurisdiction for immigration in this country and we need them to play a part not only in the bill for today

And next year but frankly in a long-term strategy to support people that will continue to come to this country for a better life now they say City staff are in frequent touch with their Federal counterparts they have been advocating for this they will keep pressing this case and no doubt Travis that’s what

Mayor Olivia Chow will be doing when she sits down with the Prime Minister today they are hoping uh that he’s brought a check with him from Ottawa for Toronto uh to help with these costs we will see if that happens okay Megan Fitz Patrick reporting for us in Toronto

The City of Toronto is calling on the federal government to help fund its shelter system, as it opens a 240-bed respite centre on the Exhibition grounds.

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