Toronto’s City Council is causing some controversy over its recent efforts to become for immigrants a “sanctuary city.”
This month Toronto City Council members voted to “reaffirm [Toronto’s] role as Canada’s first sanctuary city” and discussed ways to provide services for undocumented newcomers. Such services would include access to public health as well as shelters and food banks.
However, controversy erupted not long after the discussions began, with critics saying that the move sends mixed messages about Canada’s stance toward illegal immigration.
“(Council’s) motion tries to help illegal immigrants to stay in Canada, and we think that’s the wrong message to send,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “If you’re here illegally, please respect our laws and go back to your country.”
There are currently an estimated 20,000 undocumented residents in Toronto, most of which are working low-skilled positions such as janitorial work and food service. Advocates say that most of them likely arrived in Canada with a valid visa, but moved underground once those papers expired.
City Council members, however, recognize that although such workers have no legal status, most do contribute through taxes and rent paid on day-to-day living. They often live in constant fear of being exposed and are thus less likely to seek out public services (including health services, which can put communities at risk) and may be less likely to report crimes against themselves or others.
Source: Toronto Star