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Asylum seekers threaten the French language, according to François Legault

Photo: Karoline Boucher The Canadian Press Like Minister Roberge, François Legault also makes the link between threats to Quebec identity and asylum seekers.

Lisa-Marie Gervais

February 22, 2024

  • Quebec

After his minister affirmed that asylum seekers posed a risk to Quebec identity, Prime Minister François Legault followed suit by adding that they threatened the French language. “The facts are stubborn,” he said in a press briefing on Thursday. According to him, 39% of asylum seekers do not speak French. “We know that in Quebec, we have 80% French speakers, that unfortunately, it is decreasing. So, this has an impact on the future of French. »

On Tuesday, four CAQ ministers made a public outing to denounce the increase in costs linked to welcoming asylum seekers and demand additional sums from Ottawa. The Minister of the French Language, Jean-François Roberge, spoke of a possible threat to Quebec identity. “Yes, there are things that are threatened, there are services that are threatened, there is a way of living that is threatened when the numbers [of asylum applications] are too high. We have to name it,” he said.

François Legault did not hesitate on Thursday to take up the conclusions of his ministers, emphasizing the pressure that asylum seekers exert on public services such as education and health. “We have had to open the equivalent of several dozen schools for the children of asylum seekers while there is a shortage of teachers. We obviously have a lot of pressure on health services when we already lack nurses. Then, obviously, it has a big impact on housing,” he said.

“This whole situation is due to the inaction of the federal government,” he added, recalling the “urgency to act”.

No places for them in daycare

The Prime Minister also defended his government's intention to challenge in the Supreme Court the recent decision of the Court of Appeal which restored the right to the children of asylum seekers to attend subsidized daycares . In its judgment rendered on February 7, the Court concluded that excluding them from daycare at $9.10 per day constituted a discriminatory measure based on sex since it especially prevented women from working.

“The Court of Appeal, a federal court, comes to tell us that we are obliged to provide subsidized childcare services to asylum seekers when we are already unable to provide them to Quebec citizens,” declared Mr. Legault.

Also read

  • Quebec identity is “threatened” by the influx of asylum seekers, says Quebec
  • Language cannot be the main criterion in the distribution of asylum seekers, says Quebec
  • Quebec will challenge in the Supreme Court access to CPE for asylum-seeking children

For their part, all opposition parties welcomed the decision of the Court of Appeal. For the interim leader of the Liberal Party, Marc Tanguay, “it’s the right thing to do.” However, it was a minister from his party, Luc Fortin, who at the time reinterpreted the regulations to exclude asylum seekers, believing that they were not here “mainly” to work.

The co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, believes that asylum seekers should quickly have their work permit and access to early childhood centers. “It will make integration easier. This will allow these people to do what they want to do: contribute fully to Quebec society. »

The leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, is of the opinion that access to CPEs “should be given to all children, regardless of their status.” “But we reiterate that, if we welcome many more people than our capacity to deliver services, […] in fact, what will happen is just a waiting list which will grow longer without the capacity to deliver services. »

The Court of Appeal made an error, argued for her part the Minister of Families, Suzanne Roy. “Children have two parents, it’s not discrimination based on sex,” she summarized. The minister, however, clarified that until the courts rule on the suspension of the judgment, as requested by the CAQ government, these children do indeed have access to La place 0-5, whether for subsidized services or no.

“There’s one, table! »

Often taken to task by Quebec in recent days, the federal government has denied that it does not want to discuss the issue of asylum seekers. Thursday morning, his lieutenant in Quebec, Pablo Rodriguez, recalled that talks are currently taking place “at a table” between the two levels of government and that senior officials even met “as recently as last Monday”.

“Call it what you want, but the Deputy Minister of Immigration from Quebec, the Deputy Minister of Finance from Quebec, their counterparts from Ottawa got together to discuss exactly the financial details regarding asylum seekers,” he said. The Canada-Quebec Agreement on Immigration provides for regular meetings between the two governments.

In response to Mr. Rodriguez, who asked the Quebec government not to negotiate through the media, Minister Christine Fréchette addressed him on X to tell him that the table “does not exist.” “If the federal government wants to negotiate at a table, let it convene. We are more than available. Despite our numerous discussions, the federal government is in no hurry to act. »

Minister Rodriguez also wanted to rectify certain facts, among others on the sums that Quebec considers to be “due”, whereas for him, these are sums “claimed” since there is no has not yet had an agreement.

He notably recalled that Ottawa transfers approximately $700 million per year to Quebec for its immigration needs under the Canada-Quebec Accord. This sum is 775 million for 2023-2024. “It’s Ottawa that pays for health care,” he added, detailing the millions that his government pays to Quebec for francization and housing.

Called to comment on these figures, Prime Minister Legault refused to admit that these sums covered part of the costs claimed. “The 775 million is for regular immigrants, but there we have 160,000 asylum seekers. So, it’s really an exceptional situation, which requires, first of all, action, because we are no longer able to provide services, but also to be financially compensated. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116