“Asylum seekers on top of homeless, mental health and addictions. All of this has come together to become this storm,” Henry says.
Town officials say they are facing an emergency situation.
“More displaced individuals are arriving daily and with no remaining capacity in the system, people are being forced to sleep on the street,” says Collier.
On Harwood Avenue, the need for more help is evident. At times, groups of people can be seen congregating in Pat Bayly Square, with people pushing shopping carts with their belongings along the sidewalks. In one situation highlighted by Durham Regional Police, a person was seen taking shelter in a children’s playground.
“It breaks my heart that I have to tell these people there is no more capacity in the system,” says Henry. “Municipal governments cannot fix this, we need the help of our other levels of government.”
“The safety, dignity and well-being of newcomers must be a priority and I echo the Region’s call to upper levels of government to respond to this crisis,” says Collier.
Refugees from a number of countries including Ukraine, Afghanistan and Africa are fleeing their country for a better life. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press conference this week, they are here to support municipalities.
“We will continue to work with municipalities and provinces on support as necessary to make sure that Canada continues to support people who are coming to Canada,” he says.
But unless something is done soon, the situation in Durham Region will become even more dire, leaving potentially hundreds of people on the streets.