An exhausted migrant family huddles on an airport floor while waiting to hook up with assistance.
In Canada, there is a certain smug satisfaction that we are handling refugees the ‘right way.’ By and large (but not entirely) there today remain more than just the dying embers of a welcoming habit. A nearby apartment superintendent captures the spirit.
A refugee from Somalia, educated in a French-speaking corner of Africa, Mohammed arrived in English-speaking Toronto via French-speaking Montreal at a time when Somali refugees were rare. Over several decades he has been one of the Canada’s migrant welcomers, a practice he engaged in from his earliest days when there weren’t any other Somali refugees to welcome.
No matter. Mohammed hooked up with a charity assisting a trickle of arrivals from Latin America. He drove regularly to the airport to track down bewildered Spanish speakers, assisting them in French to unwrap the mysteries of an English-speaking city. Several decades later, he is still devoting one of his days off to welcoming refugees. By now, Mohammed is welcoming incomers to Toronto’s growing Somali community.
All well and good, individually admirable, and worthy of some civic pride. But hang on here. Toronto, like the rest of Canada, remains heavily focussed on a star-crossed housing dream — home ownership for all. The country annually foregoes millions in tax revenues to help reasonably well off middle class families ‘climb aboard the housing ladder.’
What about the safety net in place to help less affluent citizens maintain their human right to adequate rental housing? By and large there isn’t one, with rents continually rising. As increasing numbers of already-citizens are being evicted onto the streets, how far does Canada’s smug welcoming spirit go towards assisting migrant refugees into housing? Read more in NEW CANADIAN MEDIA: Asylum seekers come for a better life but end up homeless in Canada