Skip to main content

Ombudsman to investigate City decision to deny shelter access to refugee claimants & asylum seekers

Toronto’s Ombudsman Kwame Addo has launched an investigation into how the City of Toronto has responded to refugee claimants and asylum seekers looking for space in the City’s shelter system since May 31, 2023.
This is the first investigation to come out of the office’s newly created housing unit, led by Deputy Ombudsman (Housing) Reema Patel. Its job is to conduct systemic investigations and systems reviews into the planning and delivery of the City’s housing programs.  

The investigation will focus on the City’s decision to deny refugee claimants and asylum seekers space in City shelters that were not specifically designated for refugees. Staff instead referred them to programs and services available through the federal government.

The Ombudsman will consider:

  • The City’s processes leading up to its decision;
  • The City’s communication about its decision, including with City staff and members of the public;
  • Whether the City’s decision and its implementation were fair and in keeping with City policies, procedures, and rules.

As part of its investigation, Ombudsman Toronto will be speaking with people involved in or affected by the City’s decision. Interested members of the public can write to Ombudsman Toronto at or contact the office by phone at 416-392-7062. All emails and conversations will be confidential.

Ombudsman Toronto is an independent, impartial office that operates at arm’s length from the City of Toronto. It investigates public complaints about the City administration to make sure the City treats all people fairly. Its services are free and available to everyone.


“There is no doubt that the City of Toronto is facing a housing crisis. Even so, the City has an obligation to treat all people in Toronto fairly, with dignity, respect, and care. I am launching an investigation to determine if the City’s decision to deny non-refugee shelter spaces to refugee claimants and asylum seekers met that obligation.” – Kwame Addo, Ombudsman

“All people have a right to adequate housing that is safe and secure. Allegations that this right has been infringed – particularly with a group of people fleeing persecution in their home countries – is serious and must be thoroughly investigated.” – Reema Patel, Deputy Ombudsman (Housing)

An Ombudsman Toronto backgrounder is available at

For more information, contact:

Alex Kruger
Ombudsman Toronto
Office: 416-338-3023
Cell: 647-472-0873

Ombudsman Toronto listens to and investigates people’s complaints and concerns about City administration and the fairness of City services. We are a free and impartial office that operates independently from the City, holding it accountable to the people it serves.