The “logjam” of federally sponsored Syrian refugees stuck in hotels waiting for permanent homes could be eased by linking them with groups prepared to help families settle here, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday.
“They are ready and willing,” Wynne told reporters, echoing concerns from local sponsorship groups. “We have asked the federal government to look at making those connections.”
The Toronto Star reported Monday that the feds have placed about 950 refugees in hotels and shelters in the Greater Toronto Area alone while they wait for permanent housing.
While it’s typical for federally sponsored refugees to spend some time in hotels, some are feeling stranded and in limbo as the search for permanent housing continues for weeks in some cases.
In the case of privately sponsored refugees, the families and groups committed to getting them set up for life in Canada arrange housing and other needs.
But many are still waiting for refugees to be assigned to them, and could help trim the backlog, Wynne said.
“My hope would be that soon we’ll be able to see those connections being made,” she added.
“The challenge is that there are sponsoring families and groups that are ready to take refugees but they haven’t . . . had people identified for them. And there are people sitting in hotels who don’t have access to housing and don’t have the support.”
Former Toronto mayor John Sewell estimated earlier this week that there are as many as 400 groups ready to sponsor refugees from the 25,000 expected to be resettled by the end of February.
More than 11,000 Syrian refugees have landed in Canada since the first arrived Nov. 4, with about 60 per cent being federally sponsored and most of the others privately sponsored.
The Ontario government has said it will spend $10.5 million over two years to open the province’s doors to 10,000 refugees fleeing civil strife in Syria.