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What is a sanctuary city?

The sanctuary city concept is officially known as “Access T.O.” in Toronto. It means that non-status immigrants have the access to certain services provided by the city. The city officials including the police cannot ask for one’s status when they require assistance and cannot report them to Immigration Canada.

Who is a non-status immigrant?

Non-status immigrants refer to people who have made their home in Canada but lack legal immigration status. This includes, failed refugee claimants, undocumented immigrants, claimants waiting for an immigration decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), immigrants who have experienced
sponsorship breakdown, and individuals whose temporary worker, student or visitor visas have expired.

The City of Toronto (not the GTA) has implemented the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, policy on immigration status. What this means is that the city officials are required to:

1. not to inquire into immigration status when providing select services;
2. not to deny non-status residents access to services to which they are entitled, and
3. not share personal or identifying information with federal authorities, unless required to do so by federal or provincial law.

The services provided include Toronto early learning and child care services; dental clinics; emergency shelters; drop-in centers; housing help, private market rental housing; primary care clinics; vaccinations; prenatal counseling; Toronto employment and social services centers; hardship fund; referrals to community care access centers, fire and ambulance, counseling and abuse help, library services, legal aid services which can help with your immigration status, food banks, lesbian and gay counseling, childcare, recreation programs, and volunteering.

In a medical emergency, you can call 911 and request for “ambulance only”.

Every child under the age of 18 has the right to go to school in Ontario
regardless of their (or their parent’s) immigration status.