Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Asylum seekers in Quebec

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Dominic LeBlanc recognizes that the country faces many pressures, in terms of housing and reception of asylum seekers in particular. (Archive photo)

  • Rosanna Tiranti (View profile)Rosanna Tiranti

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Faced with the significant increase in temporary immigration, particularly in Quebec, the Trudeau government intends to carry out “appropriate accounting” in order to respond to requests of financial compensation from Quebec for the reception of asylum seekers.

In an interview on the show Les Coulisses du politique, the Minister of Public Safety and Intergovernmental Relations, Dominic LeBlanc, said he understood the pressures facing Quebec.

I recognize that Quebec has done a lot to welcome asylum seekers and we will ensure that there is appropriate accounting. My colleague, the Minister of Finance, will work with her counterpart in Quebec. We recognize that there are increased expenses.

A quote from Dominic LeBlanc, federal Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

Quebec is notably asking Ottawa for reimbursement of more than $470 million for the accommodation of asylum seekers and a tightening of Canadian visa granting policy. In a letter sent to Prime Minister Trudeau, François Legault affirms that the province is reaching a breaking point linked to the reception of the majority of asylum seekers in the country.

Recent data indicates that 144,000 people requested asylum in Canada in 2023 (New window) compared to 92,000 in 2022. Nearly half of the requests were filed in Quebec.

LoadingAbout one in eight seniors' residences still without sprinklers

ELSE ON INFO: Approximately one in eight seniors' residences still without sprinklers

If Minister LeBlanc believes that Canada is able to absorb and integrate the number of immigrants that we target each year in a context of labor shortage, he recognizes that the country is facing numerous pressures, particularly in terms of housing and reception of asylum seekers.

All across Canada, we see “We are hiring” posters. and businesses need workers, more in some sectors than others. So we have to manage that well, but it shouldn’t be unlimited. The question of asylum seekers and the question of foreign students, for example, [are] a little more complex[s].

A quote from Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and of Intergovernmental Affairs

However, in a memo prepared in 2022, officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) mentioned that a rapid increase in population was putting pressure on health care and affordable housing.

Note that Canadian population growth is based on growth in immigration, according to Statistics Canada (New window). The government still chose to increase immigration targets to 500,000 permanent immigrants per year until 2025.

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Dominic LeBlanc, in an interview with Daniel Thibeault on the show “Les glaces du verre”

Regarding international students, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said this week he was considering reducing the number of foreign students admitted to certain provinces. British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia would mainly be targeted, in order to take into account the pressures on the residential environment. Minister Miller admitted that the temporary immigration system linked to international students was out of control.

The Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs indicates that housing represents one pressure among many others, in response to the comments of Pierre Poilievre who – if elected – wishes to link the level of immigration to data from new housing constructions. Dominic LeBlanc wanted to emphasize that on the housing front, the Trudeau government hopes to take some pressure off, but admits that it will have to do more.

One of the possible solutions that Ottawa is seriously considering to manage the influx of asylum seekers is to reintroduce a visa for Mexican passport holders. This requirement was lifted by the Canadian government in 2016.

It's time to look at this question. […] We will work with the government of Mexico, but I know that my colleague, Minister Miller, is precisely reviewing this question, indicates Minister LeBlanc.

The Legault government, like the Biden administration last spring, is calling for the return of a visa system for Mexican travelers. According to IRCC data compiled by the Quebec Ministry of Immigration and obtained by Radio-Canada, Mexican passport holders are over-represented among asylum seekers. In 2023, Mexico was in first place among the countries of origin of applicants.

In Quebec, 17,490 Mexicans applied for immigration. asylum in the province between January and September 2023 (New window), compared to 7,483 in 2022.

As Minister of Public Safety, I obviously work with Canada's border services and the RCMP to ensure that we have supervision in terms of border security. […] We recognize the importance of ensuring that it does not become a side door to return.

A quote from Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and of Intergovernmental Affairs

In November 2023, the Radio-Canada show Enquête revealed the existence of smuggling networks and manufacturers of false passports linked to Mexican criminal organizations, organizations increasingly involved in human trafficking on the border between Canada and the United States.

The show Les coulisses du politique will be broadcast on Sunday at 11 a.m., on Ici RDI and ICI Télé.

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