Toronto receives $750,000 from Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees

TORONTO, May 24, 2016 /CNW/ - Coinciding with Newcomer Day in Toronto, Community Foundations of Canada is pleased to announce a $750,000 contribution from the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees (Welcome Fund) to a new cross-sectoral leadership group led by Toronto Foundation that has come together to test new approaches to address the overall housing affordability gap, which is particularly acute in Toronto. The Welcome Fund was seeded by Manulife, and quickly augmented by CN's historic $5 million donation, as well as by generous support from GM.

Established to respond to an urgent gap in accessible and affordable housing, the Welcome Fund provides an important investment in community-driven solutions to support the successful settlement of families recently arrived from Syria and help them transition into suitable permanent housing.

Approximately 2,000 government-assisted refugees from Syria have arrived in Toronto, with over 1,000 more expected to arrive by the end of 2016. A new partnership has been created by the Toronto Foundation with the City of Toronto, COSTI Immigrant Services and a consortium of landlord and property management groups. The Welcome Fund will contribute $750,000 to this partnership for a new pilot program that will identify new reduced-rent units to meet the immediate housing needs of government-assisted Syrian families and bring the business community, landlords, settlement services organizations and the City together to create innovative solutions to tackle the gap in affordable housing. Landlords will be asked to make in-kind contributions to further reduce rental costs.

"As someone who has represented GTA residents in Parliament for many years, I am very familiar with the important and dedicated services that COSTI provides to newcomers to Canada and how much its work benefits communities within the region," said John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. "I am very pleased that generous private sector donors and the Community Foundations of Canada are supporting that work, with funds that will help Syrian refugees find housing, build connections with their new communities, and better integrate and thrive in the GTA."

"I am a strong advocate for private-public partnerships to deliver services and supports that our residents and businesses need," said Toronto Mayor John Tory. "The Welcome Fund helps Toronto close the affordable housing gap for Syrian refugees. Through this fund, our new residents will successfully transition into permanent housing in Toronto. My sincere thanks to Community Foundations of Canada, Manulife and CN for establishing the fund."

"The Welcome Fund will allow refugees to afford suitable housing while they learn English and search for employment," said Mario Calla, Executive Director, COSTI Immigrant Services. "It will ease the stress of housing as they get established."

"Shifting refugees from temporary to more permanent homes is the first step in helping people and families to settle into their new lives in Canada," said Andrew Chunilall, Chief Operating Officer at Community Foundations of Canada. "We thank CN, Manulife, GM, and other participating partners for their support, and invite other organizations to step forward to assist with our continued rollout of the Welcome Fund across the country."

"Our work is built on strong collaboration and this pilot is a great example in action. We have convened a cross-sectoral leadership group to meet the immediate housing needs of government-assisted Syrian refugees coming to our city. At the same time, we are exploring innovative approaches and partnerships to tackle the ongoing affordable housing challenge in Toronto,'' said Rahul Bhardwaj, President and CEO, Toronto Foundation.

"CN has a great history of helping those arriving at our shores settle in places across our great country," said Paul Deegan, Vice President of Public and Government Affairs at CN. "We hope our $5 million donation to the Welcome Fund will encourage other Canadian businesses to join in contributing to this urgent cause. As that financial aid reaches organizations across the country, including here in Toronto, CN is proud to support refugees with their transition to a better life, filled with the same dreams for their families and children that all Canadians share."

"The arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada is only one step among many for these new Canadians as they begin the next phase of their lives," said Marianne Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer, Manulife Canada. "The Welcome Fund was established to provide housing and job preparedness, which would not happen without the leadership of these great local organizations in Toronto."

"Community Foundations Canada is turning the outpouring of community support across Canada into actionable housing for Syrian refugees," said David Paterson, Vice President of Corporate and Environmental Affairs, General Motors of Canada. "In addition, GM employees and our dealers across Canada are pleased to offer support, work, skills training and apprenticeship opportunities to support these new Canadians."

About Community Foundations of Canada

Community Foundations of Canada is the national network for Canada's 191 community foundations which help Canadians invest in building strong and resilient places to live, work, and play. Community foundations contribute time, leadership and financial support to initiatives that benefit community most, directing grants and other investments towards everything from shelter, education, and care for those in need, to the arts, environment and recreation. To learn more visit www.communityfoundations.ca.

To learn more about partnership opportunities related to the Welcome Fund, please contact JP Bervoets, Vice President, Partnerships and Public Engagement, at jbervoets@communityfoundations.ca.

SOURCE Community Foundations of Canada

For further information: Media Contacts: Community Foundations of Canada, Tina Barton, Manager, Partnerships, Tel: +1 (613) 236-2664 ext. 304, Email: tbarton@communityfoundations.ca, Twitter: @CommFdnsCanada; CN, Patrick Waldron, Senior Manager, Media Relations, Tel: +1 (514) 399-8803, Email: Patrick.Waldron@cn.ca; Manulife, Brooke Tucker-Reid, Media Relations Consultant, Tel: +1 (647) 528-9601, Email: brooke_tucker-reid@manulife.com, Twitter: @Manulife or @ManulifeNews; Toronto Foundation, Julia Howell, Vice President, Communications and Marketing, Tel: +1 (416) 902-2035 ext. 231, Email: jhowell@torontofoundation.ca, Twitter: @TorontoFdn

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