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Ottawa puts $750 million on the table to welcome asylum seekers

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Prime Ministers François Legault and Justin Trudeau met Monday in Quebec.

At the end of a meeting with François Legault, Justin Trudeau agrees to impose new French requirements on temporary workers linked to the federal system and will send $750 million to Quebec to cover the services offered to applicants asylum from 2021 to 2023. Despite these commitments, the CAQ Prime Minister, who arrived at his bilateral meeting with a new quantified request, came away “disappointed”.

“We have made some progress, but there is still a lot, a lot of work to do,” summarized François Legault on Monday, at the end of an exchange of about an hour exclusively devoted to the theme of immigration. His federal counterpart had just presented him with a list of measures aimed at responding to the “emergency” generated, according to the CAQ Prime Minister, by the massive arrival in Quebec of temporary immigrants.

Concretely, Justin Trudeau's government will respond to three-quarters of Quebec's financial requests to compensate for the costs incurred in 2021, 2022 and 2023 in welcoming asylum seekers. The Legault government demanded a billion dollars. “We’re going to take the 750 million. We would have liked to have had the one billion, but we are going to take the 750 million,” Mr. Legault said on Monday during a press briefing held at the Château Frontenac, in Quebec.

In addition to these additional funds, Ottawa will work “with other provinces to promote the voluntary movement of [asylum] seekers outside of Quebec.” In December, Statistics Canada counted nearly 177,000 in Quebec alone. To reduce this number, Ottawa will set up a working group expected to make recommendations by the end of August. Recommendations which should be “implemented in September”.

“[These are] elements on which we are already working to remove a little bit of the pressure on Quebec”, affirmed Mr. Trudeau, a few minutes after his counterpart's speech, and on a separate floor.

New French requirements

In March, Prime Ministers Trudeau and Legault met in Montreal for a first meeting on the theme of immigration, at the end of which the head of the federal government refused to entrust all powers in the area to Quebec. . Mr. Legault, however, welcomed Ottawa's openness to imposing French language requirements on temporary immigrants in the International Mobility Program (PMI).

Mission accomplished for the CAQ Prime Minister on this front: “workers renewing their work permit after three years under the PMI will have to prove their skills in French,” offered Mr. Trudeau on Monday. This is a mirror measure to that which the Legault government is preparing to impose on temporary workers who fall under Quebec's jurisdiction, namely those in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Although favorable to the provincial government's French protection policies, this measure does not resolve the problem of Quebec's reception capacity, said Mr. Legault on Monday.

Immigration causes “100% of the housing problem”

According to his calculations, “100% of the problem” housing in Quebec comes from the increase in the number of temporary immigrants”. The Premier of Quebec also attributes “half” of the problems in providing education services and “a third” of the difficulties in the health network to the presence of some 560,000 non-permanent residents in Quebec.

“When we are no longer able to house families, when we are no longer able to send children to school, when we are no longer able to have access to health services, when we are no longer able to no longer able to slow down the decline of French, we are in an emergency situation,” proclaimed Mr. Legault while presenting a new quantified request to his counterpart: reduce by 50% the number of asylum seekers and asylum workers. PMI in Quebec.

Questioned about this reading from Prime Minister Legault, Mr. Trudeau refused to “blame […] immigrants.” “Quebecers and Canadians know that it is not always the best thing to do, to target and say 'it's all the fault of immigrants,'” he said.

Subjected to the numerical demands of his counterpart, the Canadian Prime Minister demanded the same from Mr. Legault. “Quebec has control, directly or indirectly, over more than half of the temporary immigrants in Quebec. And so, […] if that’s what Quebec wants in terms of immigration, it must [itself present] a plan to reduce [their number],” he indicated.

Quebec currently manages its temporary student programs and a portion—through the TFWP—of fixed-term work permit holders. Questioned on this subject on Monday, Mr. Legault did not present targets for reducing the number of people in these categories, but nevertheless said he was open to studying this possibility.

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