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Asylum seekers

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Quebec will not participate in a new humanitarian pathway recently established by Ottawa.

  • Alexandre Duval (View profile)Alexandre Duval

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The only province to refuse to participate in a new federal program to welcome 11,000 asylum seekers from Haiti, Venezuela and Colombia, Quebec denies that it lacks humanity. “Quebec has done more than its share,” insists Minister Christine Fréchette.

From November 2021 to the end of October 2023, Quebec welcomed 55% of asylum seekers who arrived in Canada […] I would like to remind you that we are 22% of the population of Canada , illustrates the Minister of Immigration, Francisation and Integration.

We are of the opinion that it is now up to the other provinces of Canada to assume their share of responsibilities.

A quote from Christine Fréchette, Minister of Immigration, Francisation and Integration of Quebec

However, last week, the Haitian Concertation for Migrants described as unfair the refusal of the Legault government to participate in a new humanitarian route (New window) aimed at offering permanent residence to 11,000 Haitian, Venezuelan and Colombian asylum seekers already having family in Canada.

Launched in mid-November, this program was set up by Ottawa following its agreement with Washington regarding the closure of Roxham Road last March.

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Roxham Road was closed in March 2023.

A Haitian, Colombian or Venezuelan asylum seeker who settled in Ontario and who obtained permanent residence after passing through Roxham Road will therefore be able to benefit from this new program to bring in a child, a grandchild, a spouse, a grandparent or their brother, for example.

It However, he will not be eligible if he has taken up residence in Quebec.

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This inadmissibility also affects Haitians, Colombians and Venezuelans who have arrived regularly and have been established in Quebec for several years.

Quebec has demonstrated the greatest humanism, defends Christine Fréchette. From November 2021 to October 2023, a good portion of the 118,000 asylum seekers welcomed by Quebec came from the three countries targeted by the new humanitarian route, explains the minister.

Around 15,425 came from Haiti, 9,275 from Colombia and 3,895 from Venezuela, she lists. The other provinces can therefore very well assume, without the participation of Quebec, the reception of the 11,000 asylum seekers targeted by the new humanitarian route, according to Christine Fréchette.

The minister also recalls that asylum seekers who have obtained permanent residence in Quebec can already use another route – family reunification – to bring in their loved ones.

However, only spouses and dependent children are eligible, which is more restrictive than the new humanitarian pathway established by Ottawa.

By email , Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not seek to blame Quebec.

Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec sets its own immigration levels, which the Government of Canada takes into account in the overall immigration levels plan. Quebec remains solely responsible for the selection of most immigrants who settle there, writes Isabelle Dubois, spokesperson for IRCC.

A meeting between the federal Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller, and his provincial counterpart is scheduled for Friday.

Quebec will take advantage of this to continue to demand a better distribution of asylum seekers throughout the country. Christine Fréchette will also once again demand full reimbursement of expenses incurred in welcoming asylum seekers on her territory.

These sums were estimated just a few weeks ago at $461 million, and with each passing month, the sums continue to add up.

A quote from Christine Fréchette, Minister of Immigration, Francisation and Integration

The provincial minister also plans to ask Ottawa again to issue work permits to asylum seekers more quickly as well as to review the processes for granting tourist visas , to avoid abuse.

Ms. Fréchette is confident, she who says she has perceived an interesting openness from Ottawa in relation to these oft-repeated requests over the last few months.

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