(Montreal) Quebec Immigration Minister Jean Boulet on Monday welcomed Ottawa’s decision to relocate about 100 asylum seekers who entered the province irregularly, but said it was not enough not.
Quebec says its ability to house and care for potential refugees is under strain, as about 13,350 people entered Canada irregularly between January and May, mostly via Roxham Road, a rural route leading from the states United to Quebec.
“Quebec is asking that a significant proportion of asylum seekers crossing the border be redirected to other provinces,” said Mr. Boulet in a written statement, referring to the transfer mentioned to Ontario as ” a step in the right direction”.
“However, we are talking about a hundred people, the equivalent of one to two days of daily passages through Roxham. It is therefore not sufficient. Ottawa will have to quickly find lasting solutions to facilitate these transfers and ensure that asylum seekers use the official entry points at the border,” added Mr. Boulet.
Since June 30, Ottawa has started transferring a “small number” of asylum seekers to Ottawa and Niagara Falls to reduce pressure on Quebec, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said Monday without giving details.
“The exact number of refugee claimants with subsequent travel to Ontario is not definitive at this time,” Aidan Strickland said in an email.
Roxham Road remains the main point of entry for the majority of asylum seekers entering Canada irregularly, Strickland said.
“Many of these people have no intention of staying in (Quebec),” he noted.
More than double the number of people intercepted in three years
The number of people intercepted outside official ports of entry into Quebec by border agents between January and May is more than double the number of people who entered Quebec irregularly during the same period in 2019, before the closure of ports of entry into Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Roxham Road was reopened to potential refugees in November 2021.
Premier François Legault has called on the federal government to close Roxham Road due to the pressure that the increase in the number of asylum seekers is putting on Quebec’s ability to care for newcomers.
The Canada Border Services Agency has announced that it has increased its temporary accommodation capacity for asylum seekers at the Roxham Road border crossing, from 297 to 477 people.
“These structures are not used for housing purposes, but to ensure adequate and comfortable short-term waiting space,” the agency said in a written statement.
This dispatch was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta Exchanges and The Canadian Press for the news.