(Ottawa and Quebec) Immediately requested, immediately declined. François Legault unsuccessfully called on Wednesday for the closure of Roxham Road, a “strainer” that allows the entry of “more than 100 migrants a day”, which he considers unacceptable. Ottawa promises to continue to help Quebec welcome them.

“Our government is working with its American counterparts on shared border challenges, including the Safe Third Country Agreement. We remain committed to modernizing the Agreement,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to questions from the Bloc Québécois, who are asking Ottawa to foot the bill.

“We will always respect our national and international obligations towards asylum seekers,” he added.

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, only individuals who claim asylum at an official border crossing are returned to the United States. La Presse had learned in December that Ottawa wanted to plug the breach that has become Roxham Road, located in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.

Amendments to this agreement will give Canadian authorities the power to return a refugee claimant to the United States, regardless of whether they present themselves at an official port of entry on the Canada-United States border to make this claim or he deposits it after having crossed the border in an irregular way by taking the Roxham road, for example.

The federal government already provides financial assistance to Quebec through the Intermittent Housing Assistance Program. Between 2017 and 2020, 500 million have been reimbursed. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser said Wednesday that Ottawa will continue to ensure Quebec has “the resources to manage the influx” of asylum seekers.

But before implementing this new agreement, the Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, and Mr. Fraser must pass the relevant regulations implementing the changes. Their American counterparts must do the same. And in Washington, this file is far from being a priority.

“We are clearly asking the federal government, Justin Trudeau, to close Roxham Road because it is becoming unmanageable, the amount of people coming through there. We can’t go on like this, ”said Mr. Legault at a press briefing earlier in the day.

A marked increase in the number of migrants daily using Roxham Road, described as a “strainer” by Quebec Immigration Minister Jean Boulet, had forced him to make the exit, he said.

Mr. Legault laments that a “good part” of the migrants who take the Roxham Road “are not refugees”, but that the federal government’s processing time – more than 14 months – delays their deportation from the country too much. During this time, the Quebec government must “provide services, house them, send the children to school”, laments the Prime Minister. “Our capacity is not unlimited. All of a sudden, we have 36,000 more people coming in every year. The federal government must take responsibility,” he said.

Since the reopening of Roxham Road, 13,000 migrants have crossed the border, according to Mr Boulet. Of those, 10,800 are receiving welfare benefits, he noted. He is also attacking the federal government, which is slow to offer them a work permit – 11 months on average.

This massive influx of people also puts pressure on housing, explained the minister. “They are provided with temporary accommodation for an average of 15 days; 75% live here. And so, beyond the 15 days, it’s the pressure on public employment services, on housing, on health services, social services, school, “he listed.

The Minister affirmed that Quebec was open to humanitarian reception, but in an “orderly and legal” manner.

Regarding the request to close Roxham Road, the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) will have at least one ally: the Parti Québécois. Its leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, also makes this request, and believes that it is a “bad move by the federal government which is intentionally seeking to create disorder on our border”.

However, he accuses the CAQ of playing a double game and of being “unfair” by claiming on the one hand that the current situation is “unacceptable”, then by signing on the other a contract of 50 million over 10 years to house the applicants. asylum passing through Roxham, as revealed by Radio-Canada.



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