City

Toronto, a Sanctuary City, what does that really mean? We have the breakdown

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The City of Toronto has renewed its commitment to provide city services to illegal immigrants living within its jurisdiction.

It makes Toronto a Sanctuary City. Staff are told don’t ask applicants their immigration status when they apply for some city services. That means their illegal status doesn’t find its way to Canadian Immigration that would likely deport them.

Here’s what Section 1 of the City of Toronto Act (COTA) says:  “municipality means a geographic area whose inhabitants are incorporated. Therefore, the City is a municipal corporation which consists of serving all people living in the city.

“In recognition of its responsibility to serve all Torontonians, (city council) has taken a proactive position by committing to ensuring that Torontonians, regardless of immigration status, have access to City services without fear of being asked for proof of status.”

According to VisaPlace, a Toronto immigration legal service, there are an estimated 200,000 illegal immigrants in Toronto.

The City of Toronto’s website says services that don’t require immigration status include: Toronto early learning and child care services; dental clinics; emergency shelters; drop-in centres; housing help, private market rental housing; primary care clinics; vaccinations; prenatal counselling; recreation facilities; TESS 
employment centres; hardship fund; referrals to community care access centres, fire and ambulance.

Services that do require immigration status include Ontario Works financial assistance; basic needs allowance for shelter residents; business, trades and vehicle licences and permits, taxi licence; employability services assessment; child care subsidy; social housing waitlist; housing subsidies (rental supplements/housing allowances); and health care services.

City spokesperson Jennifer Wing told 416 Magazine in an email that undocumented citizens don’t displace legal citizens already in line for child care spots and assisted housing.  “Torontonians regardless of status may be put on a waiting list for child care spots; they will be provided access to a spot according to their placement on the list,” said, Wing.  “An undocumented resident would not be given preferential treatment over a documented resident.”  Asked whether being a Sanctuary City draws more illegals to Toronto, Wing said:  “It’s our understanding that other Ontario municipalities and regions that fall under the Provincial Municipal Act are required to provide similar services to their inhabitants.”

As for people who think illegals don’t contribute to the cost of providing city services, Wing said “many are paying to receive a City service (e.g., registration fees for recreation programs).  Most residents, regardless of status, are paying property taxes directly or indirectly.”

Asked if Toronto has consulted with the Canadian Border Services Agency about not requesting status documentation Wing replied: “the city is not responsible for implementing federal laws.”

Toronto Police spokesperson Victor Kwong said only in certain circumstances do police require documentation from people they come into contact with.  “The Toronto Police Service has a policy where we will not ask a person’s immigration status unless there is a bona fide reason, for example for (a) show-cause/bail hearing,” Kwong said.  “This does not mean Toronto Police will look the other way if it’s discovered, for example, (that) an immigration warrant exists.”

The term Sanctuary City (SC) is a U.S. term. Prominent SC cities in the U.S. include New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.  Toronto became Canada’s first SC — the proper term for Toronto is
Access TO — in February 2013. Since then, Hamilton and Vancouver have followed suit.

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