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While Ottawa met its goal of welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees, Toronto social agencies are struggling to meet the resettlement needs of refugees arriving in the GTA Press Release




While Ottawa met its goal of welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees, Toronto social agencies are struggling to meet the resettlement needs of refugees arriving in the GTA

  • Lifeline Syria says housing, employment and language instruction needed for newcomers
  • Furniture Bank unable to get furniture to refugees because of a lack of truck drivers
  • Levant Settlement Centre overwhelmed with demand for its services


TORONTO, March 3, 2016 - Social service agencies and charitable organizations in Toronto are struggling to meet the basic needs of Syrian refugee families as they begin their new lives.

"Finding appropriate housing, employment and language instruction is ‘Phase 2’ of the Syrian refugee resettlement process,” says Sheona McGraw, Executive Director of Lifeline Syria, an organization assisting private sponsor groups to welcome and support 1000 refugees resettling in the GTA.

"After years of horror and hardship, the first task facing refugees in Canada is the urgent need to establish a home for their families." added McGraw

One such GTA charity involved in this second phase is Furniture Bank, tasked with providing furnishings to refugee families who have secured permanent housing.

Furniture Bank has seen a 60% increase in demand for its services since the start of the refugee crisis. However without enough drivers and movers to pick up and deliver furniture, the charity is struggling to serve families accessing its services.

“This is causing a huge bottleneck in our ability to serve all our clients,” says Dan Kershaw, Furniture Bank’s Executive Director. “Our furniture pickup and delivery service is the backbone of our charity - without drivers and movers, we aren’t able to get furniture from the community to those in need.”

Furniture Bank has so far delivered furniture to 200 Syrian newcomers, but according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, there are over 3,000 Syrian refugees who have arrived in Toronto. This will exacerbate an already bloated backlog of people waiting for an appointment at Furniture Bank - where currently the earliest available client appointment is the second week of April.

Aris Babikian of the Levant Settlement Centre, which is assisting the resettlement of 400 refugees, echoed similar sentiments: “Overwhelmed is an understatement… finding our clients apartments, acting as guarantors to their lease agreements, getting them furniture and household items, and importantly finding them jobs - even if not in their own profession - is a daily challenge." 

Bottom line? Furniture Bank needs truck drivers. And, more furniture. 

“With the Canadian Government expected to bring in even more refugees before the end of 2016, this is going to put an enormous burden on already stretched resources in the social service sector.” added Kershaw.


Furniture Bank is a registered charity and social enterprise that has been helping people in the Greater Toronto Area establish their homes since 1998. We transfer gently used furniture and household goods donated by the community to people who are in need of a fresh start. The organization’s fleet of trucks are on the road throughout the year, picking up furniture and delivering items to formerly displaced individuals directly to their homes. Our goal is to expand these activities to support furniture banks across Canada.

Visit Furniture Bank online at Furniture Bank is also on Facebook ( and Twitter (


Lifeline Syria is a community engagement initiative formed in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Lifeline Syria will recruit, train and assist sponsor groups to welcome and support 1,000 Syrian refugees coming to Canada as permanent immigrants to resettle in the GTA over the next two years.

Visit Lifeline Syria online at Lifeline Syria is also on Facebook ( and Twitter (


Media contacts:

Dan Kershaw
Executive Director, Furniture Bank
[email protected] 

Naresh de Silva
Marketing Manager, Furniture Bank
[email protected]