Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Toronto is owed $72 million from Ottawa to cover the costs of asylum seekers, in response the Trudeau government is accusing Ford of “playing politics.”
The demand was issued in a brief statement after Ford’s first meeting with Toronto Mayor John Tory since his swearing-in last month.
The former mayoral race rivals spoke briefly in opening remarks before the pair and their staff went behind closed doors.
Ford — who calls asylum seekers “illegal border crossers” — said the “burden” to deal with them “has been put on the backs of the City of Toronto and we need funding and we need help from the federal government.”
Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government have been trading barbs since their first meeting last week soured over the issue.
The Ontario government has said the province will face a crisis next month if Ottawa doesn’t help find space for refugees and asylum seekers currently sheltered in university dorms.
There were 3,304 refugee claimants in the shelter system as of late June, accounting for 47 per cent of its users, according to city data. More than half of them are part of a program for refugees in hotels and college residences.
About 800 refugee claimants and asylum seekers are staying in Toronto college residences that must be vacated on Aug. 9 before students return to campus.