Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Ottawa releases $362 million for applicants ;asylum

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Immigration Minister Marc Miller recognized that “Quebec and Ontario are more than their share in proportion to their respective population.”

Radio-Canada

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The federal government is releasing $362.4 million to facilitate the reception of asylum seekers, of which $100 million is intended for Quebec, which instead demanded a sum of 470 million.

This is an enhancement to the Temporary Housing Assistance Program (PALP), specified the federal Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller. This program provides funding to provinces and municipalities for costs related to temporary housing for asylum seekers.

Under this program, the Quebec has already received $374 million (2017-2020) and $66.9 million (2021-2022).

Mr. Miller did not specify the amount that would be dedicated to the City of Toronto, saying that an announcement will be made on this subject in the coming days.

Of course, money alone will not be enough. […] It is clear that Quebec and Ontario are doing more than their share in proportion to their respective populations, said the minister.

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Mr. Miller added that there is more effort to be made on the part of the federal government to help the provinces meet the challenge of the growing number of asylum seekers arriving in the country, suggesting that Ottawa could review its decision to exempt Mexicans from the requirement to have a visa to enter Canadian territory. Sources had already mentioned this intention of the federal government to Radio-Canada.

We are working together with Quebec and we will continue to do so, further assured the federal minister. The money announced is a significant amount and it will help [with] accommodation needs.

The leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, believes that the funds announced Wednesday concern social housing more than the debt owed by the federal government to the Quebec government for the reception of asylum seekers.

This $100 million has nothing to do with anything, he said. Mr. Miller suggested he had good news to share, but his good news is on the wrong subject. He is missing $470 million that he owes Quebec and as a deadbeat, he is unreliable and untrustworthy.

Unfortunately, Quebec will continue to pick up the bill [for asylum seekers] because it has no human choice and Ottawa will not reimburse it.

The office of the Quebec Minister of Immigration, Christine Fréchette, for its part did not want to react immediately, saying it was evaluating Mr. Miller's announcement.

We expect that all expenses assumed by Quebec will be fully reimbursed, Minister Fréchette declared Monday on X.

On January 18, Prime Minister Legault wrote in a letter addressed to his federal counterpart Justin Trudeau that Quebec is very close to the breaking point due to the excessive number of asylum seekers arriving in Quebec month after month. The situation has become unbearable, he added.

The same day, Justin Trudeau assured that Ottawa would share the burden.

The massive arrival of asylum seekers in Canada is putting significant pressure on the reception and integration capacities of the provinces , particularly from Quebec and Ontario.

Although the management of asylum seekers and immigration falls under federal jurisdiction in Canada, it is in fact the provinces that must ensure to the reception, care, education and housing of these tens of thousands of people who arrive in the country, often penniless and in a state of advanced precariousness.

According to the latest official data, the Border Services Agency and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada processed a record number of 144,035 asylum applications in 2023, including more than 65,500 in Quebec.

This is an increase of more than 56% from the 92,000 applications filed in Canada in 2022.

Last year, the international airports of Quebec and Ontario were the main points of entry into the country for asylum seekers: 41,350 of them opted for this gateway entry into Canada.

Quebec and Ontario airports received 25,755 and 14,340 asylum seekers, respectively.

In this regard, 14,663 asylum seekers were intercepted at the border in 2023 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Of this number, 13,962 were in Quebec.

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