Minister of Immigration: “no apology” to homeless Canadians for taking in 25,000 Syrian refugees
In a conversation with the Executive Director of Global Diversity Exchange at the 2016 Cities of Migration Conference in Toronto on March 2, 2016 (the video was published on YouTube on April 7, 2016), Ratna Omidvar asked Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees John McCallum:
“What do you say to Canadians who say to you (as you welcome 25,000+ Syrian refugees) what about our homeless people, our young people without jobs, our native population, our sick and our elderly? How do you keep that up”?
McCallum responded (03:17-04:43):
“I say you can walk and chew gum at the same time. There are always going to be poor people in Canada. I think one of the greatest things on which we’re mandated to make progress is First Nations people, aboriginal people, indigenous people. And we’re certainly spending a lot of money on that if you look at the platform.
“So I make no apology to anybody. In fact, if anything I boast about it the fact that we are one of the few countries that is being more welcoming to refugees rather than shutting the door or inching the door shut.
“I think that is a good thing and I think when you think that this is the worst refugee crisis the world has known in decades. There are literally millions of people displaced. It is causing huge problems in the European Union which we hear about every day.
“So I believe we are doing the absolute right thing in taking 25,000 people from the horrors of a civil war across the ocean and welcoming them here at home and most Canadians agree with that.
“And so I’m delighted that most Canadians agree with that and it doesn’t mean that we will not take measures to help others in Canada who have but others as well. We can do more than one thing at a time.”
According to Raising the Roof, an organization that seeks long-term solutions to homelessness, over 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness each year.
On any given night, 35,000 Canadians experience homelessness and 50,000+ Canadians experience “hidden homelessness”, such as couchsurfing, sleeping in a car, or other precarious housing. 20% of the homeless population are young people aged 16-24. Additionally, 10% of Canadian families live below low-income cut off and 14% of Canadian children live in poverty. Finally, 1 in 4 people experiencing homelessness identify as Aboriginal or First Nations.
In Toronto alone, there are at least 10,000 homeless youth during any given year and as many as 2,000 on a given night. About 50% of street youth surveyed by Covenant House said they had stolen food and eaten food that had been thrown out and 23% of the young women and 11% of the men said they’d resort to trading sex for food.
According to The Homeless Study, urban Aboriginal Peoples experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate and make up a significant percentage of the homeless population ranging from 20% to 50%, and in some cities more than 90% of those living on the streets are aboriginal.
Original article courtesy of CIJNews