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GTHA mayors call on Ottawa, Ontario to fund Ukrainian newcomers' resettlement efforts

More than 145,000 Ukrainian citizens and Canadian permanent residents of Ukrainian origin have arrived in Canada since the beginning of last year, according to government data
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The mayors and chairs of nine large municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area are calling on the federal and the Ontario governments to provide funding to a program dedicated help Ukrainian newcomers. Ukrainian nationals fleeing the ongoing war in Ukraine arrive at Trudeau Airport in Montreal, Sunday, May 29, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

TORONTO — The federal and Ontario governments ought to provide funding for a program dedicated to help Ukrainian newcomers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the mayors and chairs of several large municipalities in the region said in a joint statement Monday.

The mayors of Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Vaughan, along with other municipal leaders in the region, said that almost 2,000 people from 750 households have accessed emergency housing and other services through a project to co-ordinate efforts to support Ukrainian newcomers. 

They said the governments of Canada and Ontario had assured them that support for Ukrainian newcomers was coming but dedicated funding sought by the municipalities has yet to arrive. 

"The mayors and chairs continue to support the Canadian government’s strong condemnation of Russian aggression as well as actions taken to welcome Ukrainian refugees fleeing a terrible, unjustified war," the municipal leaders said. 

"They commend the federal government for support to date with expedited visa processing, support for up to two weeks of hotel accommodation for those with no other options, as well as emergency financial assistance for Ukrainian refugees who qualify."

The leaders said these supports from Ottawa are "very welcome," but they are not sufficient. 

They said they are continuing to provide services for the Ukrainians at "virtually the sole expense" of the municipalities. 

"The unprecedented cooperative proposal between and among the municipal governments has been in the hands of the federal government for months," they said.

"As more refugees are welcomed to the GTHA, the extensive, unprecedented regional coordination to provide housing and supports is crucial, but local resources are limited."

The federal immigration department and the Ontario government didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. 

More than 145,000 Ukrainian citizens and Canadian permanent residents of Ukrainian origin have arrived in Canada since the beginning of last year, according to government data. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press