The numbers say it all.

The city of Toronto’s 2024 budget predicts that 42% of shelter users will be refugee claimants. These claimants will cost the city some 31% of the city’s gross shelter and housing expenditures, topping $787-million in 2024.

The budget notes say that refugees need “specialized services and supports” to serve their distinct needs.

This is over and above the housing and stabilization support given to the homeless who don’t come from distant lands, but, for whatever reason (often drug addiction) have found themselves without a roof over their heads.

If one compares these figures to five and six years ago, it is easy to see how an industry has thrived because politicians have permitted it to, expanding an already bloated system to meet the demand instead of capping the supply to address other huge city issues.

Instead of just saying no to the feds, who have allowed asylum seekers and refugees to enter Canada at a ridiculously rapid rate without any plan in place, politicians continue to absorb the largely unvetted migrants into Canada’s largest city while complaining they need more money to do so.

This year Mayor Olivia Chow has opted to play cat-and-mouse with our prime minister, threatening that if she doesn’t get another $250-million Toronto taxpayers will be on the hook for a 16.5% tax hike.

That’s outrageous enough. But no one wants to admit there is only one taxpayer.

At the City of Toronto, homelessness is an industry with 1,255 city employees now on staff and a host of community groups ready to serve the homeless and refugees – often giving them a handout instead of a hand up.

The employee numbers have surged from 826 in 2018, a  51% increase, and 904 in 2019, a 38% increase.

The number of shelter beds proposed for 2024 is 10,600, even though this was never meant as any more than an emergency measure. This is double the 5,000 emergency beds and 700 respite spaces provided in 2018.

I reported in 2018 that 2,600 shelter spaces were occupied by refugees, or “irregular” migrants, as they flowed across Roxham Road into Quebec. 

City staff said at the time that 18 to 20 were coming to Toronto a day, several put in taxis from Pearson airport bound for the city’s downtown assessment and referral centre.

Many were put in hotels, to the surprise of regular customers. This continued until the hotels were completely booked by the city to house refugees.

In 2019, when the refugees continued to flow into the city, the number of shelter beds jumped to 7,000. 

Instead of simply saying, “No we can’t accommodate any more,” the city begged the feds for money and got it – hiking the budget just to house refugees by $87-million.

The homeless agencies of choice were positively ecstatic as more hotels and an old hydro site opened and they were given lucrative contracts to manage the inflow.

Bear in mind these numbers continue to accumulate in the budget, forcing city officials to scramble each year to find that much money and more.

The city’s own budget documents show that 1,500 refugees were dealt with at Central Intake in September of 2023 compared to 500 in the same timeframe the year before.

Most of those who enter the country in Ontario find their way to Toronto, their documents show.

Many cities in the surrounding GTA and Hamilton send their refugee claimants to Toronto, something the city of Toronto has tried to stop with little success.

Let’s not forget the services don’t stop with shelter beds. These migrants need counselling and help obtaining proper documentation.

The city says in its budget note this year that there are not enough spaces to accommodate the refugees and because of this there are higher levels of homelessness on the streets, in encampments and on the TTC.

No one wants to concede either that the rise in crime is a direct result of this.

Truly it’s nothing short of a runaway train.

But the Trudeau government doesn’t care.

And our city politicians have no political will to stop the flow.

Much like the LGB industry has turned their sights to trans issues to keep themselves thriving and well-funded, the homeless industry is quite happy to broaden their scope and keep themselves afloat with refugees.

We only need to follow the money.


  • Sue-Ann Levy

    A two-time investigative reporting award winner and nine-time winner of the Toronto Sun’s Readers Choice award for news writer, Sue-Ann Levy made her name for advocating the poor, the homeless, the elderly in long-term care and others without a voice and for fighting against the striking rise in anti-Semitism and the BDS movement across Canada.