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Ottawa grants 100 million to Quebec to house asylum seekers

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller at a press conference in Ottawa on Monday

Ottawa announces an additional $100 million in funding for Quebec in a program to house asylum seekers — a sum well below what the province is asking for.

The amount is part of a $362.4 million package for the Temporary Housing Assistance Program (PALP) announced Wednesday by federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller.

The funds will be distributed across the country, meaning that Quebec will receive 27.6% of the amount.

For its part, the Legault government instead demanded a reimbursement of $470 million incurred for the reception of asylum seekers in 2021 and 2022 and that the federal government do the same for subsequent years . Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Legault even urged Justin Trudeau to curb the influx of asylum seekers, in which case Quebec would reach its “breaking point”.

Asked what happened to Quebec's requests, Minister Miller admitted that “money alone will not be enough.”

“We have made significant efforts in recent months and years to put people in hotels outside Quebec. It is clear that Quebec and Ontario, among others, are doing more than their share in proportion to their respective populations. […] It is clear that there are other measures that are necessary,” he said.

The latter also specified that other discussions on this subject would follow this year with Quebec.

In a press scrum just after the announcement, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, judged that the federal government was behaving “like a deadbeat, unreliable and untrustworthy.”

“He is missing 460 million that he owes to Quebec. [Mr. Miller says]: “You, the Quebecers, pay half a billion and, by the way, we have not put any measures in place so that half of the asylum seekers do not continue to arrive in Quebec.” It makes no sense,” lamented Mr. Blanchet.

“A slap in the face”

Ottawa takes a “step in the right direction” by untying the gussets of his purse, indicated Minister Christine Fréchette in a statement sent to Devoir early Wednesday evening.

“However, we are still far from the 470 [million] requested,” she put things into perspective. “It is difficult to explain why the federal government has not yet taken into account our spending on health services, education, and last resort assistance. It's been over a year since we demonstrated to him that costs have exploded. »

In addition to the amounts released by the federal government, Quebec is still asking for a better distribution of asylum seekers in the Canadian provinces, as well as a tightening of “visa management”. “Our reception capacity is exceeded,” reiterated Ms. Fréchette.

Recent data shows that a record number of migrants came to seek refuge in the country last year, almost half of them in Quebec.

We are still far from the 470 [million] requested

— Christine Fréchette

On the social network The leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, spoke of “another slap in the face, after the health transfers and so many others.”

“100 million dollars out of the 470 requested by the CAQ is an insult,” he writes, recalling that half of the asylum seekers in the country are supported by Quebec. “It is downright disgraceful to the efforts of Quebecers to welcome all these people as dignified as possible, well beyond our reception capacities. »

Mexican nationals

Minister Miller did not want to specify where the government's thoughts on the issue stood of visa for Mexican nationals, simply stating that thoughts are “evolving.” “It is clear that a diplomatic approach is necessary with Mexico,” he reiterated.

The Trudeau government ended the visa requirement for Mexican nationals in December 2016. The Prime Minister had just promised during the election campaign to cancel this measure, introduced in 2009 by the previous government, under Stephen Harper.

The number of asylum seekers from Mexico has exploded in recent years. Data obtained by Le Devoir show that it increased from 260 in 2016 to 22,405 in 2023 (as of November). Canada welcomed an average of 2,037 Mexican asylum seekers monthly between January and November last year.

With François Carabin

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