Afghan refugees asking for more support from Reception House
KITCHENER -- Some Afghan refugees who arrived in Waterloo Region over the past few months say they aren’t getting enough support from Reception House, the local agency in charge of resettling government-assisted refugees.
Sayed Salahuddin said he is grateful to be on Canadian soil since September 2021, calling it "a lifesaving experience."
He is staying at the motel with five of his family members.
“I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but we’re not getting the support and the attention that other refugees are getting in other parts of Canada,” said Salahuddin.
Some of the concerns he brought up are unclean rooms and not enough allowance. He claims the allowance has been cut by up to 60 per cent.
Lynne Griffiths-Fulton, interim CEO at Reception House said they don’t set the amount and it should be unchanged.
“Clients are provided an allowance for every day they are in the hotel. Upon arrival, clients are given an initial supply of food, dishes, and other donations, as well as a cash allowance advance, followed by regular cheque top ups, along with start-up funds from IRCC, until they move into permanent accommodation. We do not set the allowance rate that people are receiving but it is $20 per person per day for the duration of their stay in temporary accommodation,” said Griffiths-Fulton.
Reception House claimed the rooms are supposed to be cleaned regularly, following COVID-19 protocols, and added that they're following up with hotel staff to ensure it is being done.
Reception House said they planned on taking in about 250 refugees all year but instead received about 200 people, all within the last three months.
“We are able to do what we can with the capacity that we have,” she said. “In three months we’ve received over three-quarters of our annual target.”
Salahuddin said he and many local refugees have been relying on community donations.
Linda Drouin, a Waterloo resident, has been volunteering to help with donations. Her home is filled with boxes.
“The generosity of the neighbourhoods here, of my friends. I received donations from a family in Ottawa,” Drouin said.
“We welcome the community support. We want to work with community members,” said Griffiths-Fulton.
Some local refugees also raised concerns about their kids not being able to attend schools in the region because they don't have a permanent address.
The Waterloo Region District School Board said in a statement to CTV News:
“The Waterloo District School Board is aware of the situation and we are working closely with our community partners to help get these families access to our schools as quickly as possible.
We are working with the task force to address this collaboratively and as effectively as possible and once again, to be part of a great initiative to welcome newcomers to our WRDSB community, as we did with Syrian refugees in 2016.”