Spread the love

Quebec identity is “threatened” by the influx of asylum seekers, says Quebec

Photo: Jacques Boissinot Archives La Presse canadienne Interrogé mardi sur le risque que l’identité québécoise soit compromise par l’arrivée massive de demandeurs d’asile, le ministre Jean-François Roberge a déclaré que « ça pourrait arriver ».

In addition to having generated expenses of more than a billion dollars in three years, the massive arrival of asylum seekers now poses a risk for “Quebec identity,” according to the government of François Legault.

“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 big. It must be named,” said CAQ Minister Jean-François Roberge on Tuesday morning. Asked about the risk that Quebec identity would be compromised, the elected official responsible for the French language added: “It could happen. »

In addition to Mr. Roberge, the Quebec government sent three ministers for a large-scale press conference at the Parliament Building. The objective: to recall the “urgency” of the situation and make new financial requests to Ottawa in connection with the reception of asylum seekers. According to the Minister of Immigration, Christine Fréchette, the amounts required from the federal government went from simple to double last year.

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 requests] are too great

— Jean-François Roberge

For 2021 and 2022, Quebec expected $470 million from the federal government to reimburse services provided to people who applied for asylum. For 2023 alone, 576.9 million would have been added to the total. Although part of these sums are being reimbursed — approximately 15%, says Minister Fréchette — the government of François Legault thus calculates the expenses incurred over the last three years in the reception of asylum seekers.

“Despite all the generosity that drives us, our capacity to deliver [des] services to asylum seekers has limits,” proclaimed Minister Fréchette at a press conference. At his side, Minister Roberge spoke of a potential “humanitarian crisis”. “This can’t go on any longer,” he said.

An “integration capacity” under threat ?

Last year, nearly half of the asylum seekers who arrived in Canada crossed the country's borders in Quebec. According to the calculations of Devoir, which include interprovincial travel, this proportion is more like 35% for 2023, but remains higher than the weight of the Quebec population within the country. Quebec is therefore asking that a portion of these immigrants be transferred to other provinces.

If this is not done, Quebec's “integration capacity” could be weakened, said Minister Roberge. “We have always been a welcoming society. We want to remain one, but there is a reception capacity, there is a capacity for integration into Quebec citizenship,” said the elected official, while denouncing the “passivity” of Justin Trudeau’s government.

Also read

  • There are too many asylum seekers in Quebec, maintains Minister Fréchette
  • The proportion of asylum seekers in Quebec is not as high as the Legault government says
  • Asylum seekers and French people, four keys to understanding

Present on Tuesday, the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, for his part, repeated that the Quebec school network was approaching a “breaking point”. “We have reached a point where we cannot rule out the possibility that eventually we will no longer be able to educate the young asylum seekers who arrive. »

According to calculations by the Ministry of Education, there are currently “1,237 francization classes in Quebec, which represents, very conservatively, the equivalent of 52 primary schools.” Reactivated on this subject, the office of Minister Drainville clarified that this concerned all classes of francization, all immigrants combined. “A large proportion are asylum seekers,” it was said.

Canada has already “been there,” says Trudeau

Accused Tuesday before question period, Prime Minister François Legault reiterated the government's request to his federal counterpart. “I’m going to try to meet [Justin] Trudeau soon, but we can’t continue like this,” he said without stopping in front of the media.

At the other end of Canada, on the sidelines of a press briefing on housing, Prime Minister Trudeau recognized “to what extent Quebecers [had] been there to welcome asylum seekers in a generous way”, but did not want to commit to releasing new funds. “Strengthening our immigration system is essential for a strong future in Quebec and elsewhere, but it must be done appropriately,” added Mr. Trudeau from Vancouver, while asserting that his government had already “been there” for the Quebec.

A meeting between the two levels of government took place Monday “in order to respond to the financial requests of the Government of Quebec”, confirmed the federal Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller.

“We have regularly discussed all sectors requiring funding and we will maintain open communication at this table,” the minister said in a statement Tuesday.

Mr. Miller also recognized the need for services to promote the integration of newcomers to the province and said he takes all financial requests from Quebec “very seriously”.

Questioned on Tuesday about the government's comments regarding Quebec identity, the director of the Table de concertation des organizations serving refugees and immigrants, Stephan Reichhold, said: a little surprised.” “We are calling on the government to be a little more nuanced in its comments. It’s really a very fear-driven speech,” he said. The interim leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Marc Tanguay, also denounced a “cookie-cutter statement”.

In the press scrum in the morning, the co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, called on the federal government to “do more” while encouraging Quebec to issue work permits quickly “to allow these people -there to go to work.”

The leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, deplored the exit of the CAQ government in a context of “unprecedented social crisis”. “The [Coalition Avenir Québec] is lying to itself. She knows that sending letters and then making demands on her knees in [Ottawa] cannot work because they are in bad faith, they are disloyal. »

With Lisa-Marie Gervais and Sandrine Vieira

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