Updates provided to the City by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) late last month outlined that an increase in the amount of asylum claimants housed in Cornwall was to occur in the near future.
Initially, a temporary asylum claimant processing centre was established at the DEV Centre. It has now come to the attention of the City that Ramada Inn, located on Brookdale Avenue, has been acquired by a company contracted to expand and extend this same processing centre.
No communication, consultation or notice was given to City administration by IRCC prior to the decision to expand the processing centre.
“The City of Cornwall welcomes newcomers to our community,” said Mayor Justin Towndale. “As Canadians, we have a long history of helping those who are in need and the City of Cornwall is ready to continue this tradition. We remain concerned however, with the lack of communication from IRCC, and the strain placed on our resources.”
“We call on the Federal Government to communicate with our community and to work with us to plan effectively for the future.”
Cornwall has been home to asylum claimants in the past —over 300 were housed in the then Nav Centre in 2017.
Additionally, a number of asylum claimants have permanently settled in Cornwall, joining the local workforce and contributing positively to our community and the local economy.
Despite being welcoming, the City recognizes that assisting an increased amount of asylum claimants will have a significant impact on its Social Services.
The City will now have to provide the resources to assist asylum claimants, all the while continuing to provide quality services to its residents.
“There has been a direct and significant impact to the Human Services Department and Ontario Works caseloads resulting from the increase in demand for our services,” said Mellissa Morgan, the City of Cornwall’s General Manager of Human Services and Long-Term Care. “We have expanded our work force to try and accommodate this, all while continuing to provide quality service to everyone who seeks our services.”
“We are at a tipping point however, and without concrete long-term plans for this initiative, it is difficult for us to plan accordingly. We would much rather be proactive than reactive to this situation, so we are able to accommodate everyone.”
Economic development is also anticipated to be affected by the IRCC decision, as are local health services.
The City of Cornwall calls on the IRCC to provide more communication and consultation on its recent decision and any future decisions that may have an impact on the City and its resources.