Hundreds of millions more spent on Roxham
Hotel hire, security guards, health services, police presence: the already high costs, linked to the massive influx of asylum seekers asylum, exploded this year, learned Radio-Canada.
About a hundred RCMP officers work day and night on Roxham Road to welcome and arrest the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have arrived in Canada this year.
Spending on Roxham Road continues to rise.
Since the borders reopened just over a year ago, these fees have followed the growth in the record number of asylum seekers passing through the famous passage, located between Montérégie and the State of New York.
The care of these people who arrived in Quebec in recent months alone resulted in costs of $155 million. And again, this amount concerns only Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, according to documents obtained by Radio-Canada, which were recently communicated to federal parliamentarians.
The documents, which provide a summary of the sums paid by the Trudeau government between 2021 and October 2022, show that more than a third of new federal spending, or about $61 million, relates to the rental of hotel rooms and office buildings.
The rest of the sums mainly cover health services, protection, interpretation, translation, but also transport and the provision of meals.
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Immigration Canada is not the only federal entity to have recently signed major contracts related to Roxham Road. According to the documents, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) also paid several million dollars, in the last year, in support and management services.
These expenses are in addition in part to the multiple contracts, sometimes without a call for tenders, signed by Ottawa in recent years.
Nearly half a billion dollars had already been spent by the federal government, even before the historic influx of 2022, whether for accommodation, infrastructure or land rental.
After their arrival at Roxham Road, asylum seekers are transported to hotels managed by Quebec and Ottawa.
According to our information, approximately one thousand migrants are currently entering Canada , every week, via Roxham Road. Some days, they are more than 200 to appear before the federal agents.
By the end of the year, more than 40,000 people are expected to have crossed the border here. Far more than double that of 2017, when nearly 18,800 irregular entries were recorded.
As revealed by a Radio-Canada investigation, a very lucrative industry has even formed with the emergence of networks of smugglers who bring these people in private vans to the gates of Canada.
“The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has experienced a surge in requests over the past few weeks.
— Karine Martel, CBSA Spokesperson
Due to this influx, the two accommodation centers managed by Quebec, in Montreal, were taken by storm. Ottawa has therefore signed new contracts with hotel chains to temporarily house these families, who come mainly from Haiti, Colombia, Venezuela and Turkey.
Almost all of the expenses for accommodation were made this year.
According to a list we obtained, about twenty establishments currently receive asylum seekers, mainly in the greater Montreal area.
Rooms have also been reserved in Ontario, from the summer, to house migrants wishing to change their host province.
An $11.3M contract has been awarded, without competitive bidding, to the Dev Hotel and Conference Center in Cornwall.
Just over 3,000 beds are available in Quebec to accommodate asylum seekers, whether they come from Roxham Road or from the Montreal airport.
Immigration Canada has currently reserved 1,860 rooms in the greater Montreal area. A number that has clearly increased since the beginning of the year. For its part, the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Ile-de-Montréal, responsible for this accommodation in the metropolis, has 1,200 beds, spread over two sites.
The average duration of these accommodations is around three weeks.
Most people arriving in Canada via Roxham Road are from Haiti, Colombia, Venezuela or Turkey.
The amounts listed in the summary obtained by Radio-Canada do not take into account the cost of the police requisitioned to arrest and receive these asylum seekers.
Since the he summer of 2017 and the first wave of asylum seekers, Canadian authorities set up temporary facilities at the end of Roxham Road, which were recently expanded and modernized.
Several teams take turns on the spot, every day and every night. A hundred RCMP officers are directly assigned to this passage.
According to our information, however, there are not enough Quebec personnel to monitor Roxham Road. The RCMP regularly calls on police officers from other provinces, particularly from the Atlantic region.
The latter are fully supported, in terms of accommodation and meals, when they come.
How much is this continued presence on these premises costing Canadian taxpayers? The RCMP declined to specifically answer the question.
“The RCMP does not disclose financial data that could compromise its resources in order to ensure the safety of its officers and the public , and to preserve the integrity of investigations. »
— Excerpt from a document prepared by the RCMP
The police authority nevertheless acknowledges having spent more than $7.6 million on non-salary activities such as travel expenses and other operating costs directly related to supporting operations at border crossings.
That's not all. In addition to the RCMP, the Border Services Agency (CBSA), which handles security checks of asylum seekers at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle post, has also seen a sharp increase in its expenses.
Between January and October 2022, the CBSA spent $26M on officer salaries ($9M) at the Refugee Processing Center and on other activities ($17M). These costs include employee travel, site security services, humanitarian services, space rentals and maintenance, said a CBSA spokesperson.
This is a 100% increase over the whole of the previous year.
Ottawa has recently upgraded and expanded its facilities at Roxham Road, due to the influx of asylum seekers.
Ottawa will soon have to take out his checkbook again. And the bill could be historic.
Since Roxham Road became popular, the federal government has retroactively reimbursed the amounts paid by the provinces for the accommodation of asylum seekers. Quebec thus obtained $374 million for the period covering 2017 to 2020.
This time, Quebec wants to broaden the range of reimbursements.
The Legault government is now demanding compensation for social services, such as last resort assistance granted to asylum seekers as well as the health and education services offered to them.
Initial discussions on this subject took place last week, during a meeting between the federal and Quebec immigration ministers. But no official request has yet been made, we slip on the side of Ottawa.
According to our information, hundreds of millions of dollars are currently being made. #x27;discussed at the negotiating table.
With the collaboration of Marie Chabot-Johnson