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Toronto takes a step forward towards ‘sanctuary city’ plan

Last February, the City of Toronto adopted a sanctuary policy in landmark 37-3 decision.

The Toronto Star reports, “Toronto has taken a baby step towards living up to its self-declared status as a “sanctuary city” for undocumented residents, by adopting some key recommendations. Council voted 29-8 Tuesday to take concrete steps on a plan to give Toronto’s estimated 200,000 non-status residents access to city services without fear of being turned over to border enforcement officials — including training city staff and revising policies to prevent discrimination based on immigration status.” This vote will help move the plan forward and give city staff the tools to begin real work on ‘access without fear’ programs.

Non-Status residents pay property taxes, HST and often income tax but are largely denied support services.

“Among the items adopted by council Tuesday:


  • Allowing immigration/citizenship information to be collected only when required by provincial and federal law.


  • Asking the city solicitor to study whether Toronto can withhold such information unless through informed consent of the resident concerned.


  • Implementing a compulsory training program in all city departments and agencies to train staff and volunteers regarding access to city services for undocumented people.


  • Advocating with the province and Ottawa regarding access to child care subsidies, social assistance, health care and housing for the undocumented.


  • Including immigration status in the city’s human rights and anti-harassment/discrimination policy, to ensure undocumented people receive equal treatment.


  • Exploring the idea of introducing a municipal ID card for the undocumented.


  • Encouraging other cities to follow suit, through sharing the new policies with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.”

Earlier this year Hamilton City Council just unanimously voted to adopt a motion affirming access without fear to Hamilton’s undocumented residents.  With the vote, Hamilton is also on its way to becoming Canada’s second Sanctuary City (after Toronto in February 2013).

For more information please see:

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