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Toronto votes on first Canadian Sanctuary City policy

Access Without Fear policy vote comes up on Feb 21st

by Solidarity City Toronto

Toronto votes on first Canadian Sanctuary City policy

Toronto, ON– Over one hundred Torontonians, including undocumented immigrants denied city services, are expected to be in City Hall dressed in yellow t-shirts emblazoned with “Access Without Fear” on February 21, 2013, to see Toronto vote on ensuring accessible services to people without full immigration status or papers. If the vote passes, Toronto will start on the path to becoming the first city in Canada, and the 31st in North America, to have Sanctuary City type policies. The Solidarity City Network, a coalition of community organizations representing and advocating for immigrants and refugees, is urging City Council to adopt motion CD 18.5 that was passed in committee due to significant community pressure and input from activists, advocates and courageous undocumented people themselves. Also included in the motion are demands for city advocacy to the provincial and federal governments around access to services and immigration status.

WHO: Service providers and activists from the Solidarity City Network, and undocumented immigrants who have been denied city services. 
WHAT: Toronto City Hall votes on Motion 18.5, which would set the stage for the creation of accessible services for residents who either don’t have full immigration status or all their immigration papers.
WHERE: Toronto City Hall Council Chambers
WHEN: February 21, 2013, 9:30am onwards
VISUALS: Torontonians in yellow T-shirts emblazoned with “Access Without Fear”, city councillors also encouraged to wear buttons with the same slogan. 


Leonardo Zuniga, a settlement worker, who lived seven years in Toronto without full immigration status and is a member of the Solidarity City Network says, “Not having full immigration status or waiting on your papers from Immigration Canada should not mean that you get evicted, get denied healthcare and can’t put your kids in school. This has gone on too long. Toronto should be safe for everyone who lives here, with or without immigration papers.”

Tzazna Miranda Leal, a community legal worker and members of Solidarity City Network says, “There’s been an outpouring of support for our work as hundreds of people have stepped up to depute at committee and to write to and meet with their councillors. This is important! Federal immigration changes mean that the numbers of people living without full immigration status is increasing and will continue to do so, but city services and policies lag painfully behind. Its time for Toronto to provide access to all without fear and to demand that the province and feds do the same.”

Nell Toussaint, a refugee from Grenada who has lived with precarious status in Toronto since 1999, says “After years of fighting at the federal court, I’ve obtained a stay on my deportation which means I’m not supposed to be removed, but I still can’t get healthcare unless I pay a lot of money. This makes no sense, immigrants should not have to choose between debt and death. This is not only a provincial and federal matter, but the people turning me away live in Toronto, and are partially paid by Toronto, and that makes it a Toronto issue too.”

Bonita Roman Johnson, a mother of three who was denied a City of Toronto childcare subsidy says, “I was about to enter second year of college in September when the City of Toronto’s childcare subsidy office found out that my husband didn’t have immigration status. My daughter was immediately and unceremoniously pulled from daycare, where she had spent a year and a half and  as a result I had to drop out of my college. My kids and I are Canadian citizens, and if we were mistreated in this way, imagine what goes on when an entire family is undocumented. City Hall needs to make sure this stops happening, and that Torontonians aren’t scared to get basic services.”


CONTACT: Syed Hussan, Media Liaison, Solidarity City Network,

The Solidarity City Network is made up of Health for All, Immigration Legal Committee of Toronto, Justice for Migrant Workers, Law Union of Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Roma Community Centre, Social Planning Toronto, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, South Asian Women's Rights Organization, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, The Wellesley Institute and Workers Action Centre. Additionally, Motion 18.5 is supported by Advocacy Centre for Tenants of Ontario (ACTO), Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention, AWCCA at George Brown College, Jane Finch Action Against Poverty, GOAL, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change  and Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.  

Motion 18.5:

Solidarity City Network that led to Motion 18.5’s passing:

Briefing sheet and frequently asked questions on access to services:

Video of deputations from January 31, 2013:





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