Quebec is calling on the federal government to help with the growing number of asylum seekers entering Canada through non-designated ports of entry.
Officials said Monday it is expecting about 400 people to cross the border through forests and wooded areas every day this summer — up from 250 each day last year.
Quebec Immigration Minister David Heurtel explained 50.2 per cent of asylum seekers enter Canada via Quebec, but not many of them are staying in the province.
He insists the federal government needs to do more to show “leadership” and help with both financing and processing.
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The minister argued social and housing services in Quebec have been saturated, with almost triple the number of asylum seekers coming in so far this year compared to the same time last year.
Heurtel said the province has made 1,850 temporary housing places available — but once it hits 85 per cent capacity, the province will be forced to tell the federal government that it can no longer process new arrivals in Quebec.
Jean-Nicolas Beuze, UNHCR representative in Canada, insisted Monday that the termination of the temporary protection status (TPS) in the U.S., as well as “negative rhetoric,” are not responsible for the influx of asylum seekers to Canada.
“Yes, it’s true that we had a higher number of Haitians coming over the summer, but Honduran and Salvadoran or the Mexican children or adolescents protected under the DACA have not come in increased number to Canada over the last year,” he said.
He added that “quite a large number” of the people coming into Quebec are simply passing through the U.S. on their way north.
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“We do notice that quite a large number of them were only, again, going through the United States, spending only a few days, coming directly from Haiti or coming from other places such as Brazil,” Beuze said.
Heurtel will be heading to Ottawa on Wednesday to speak with officials at the federal level, adding he wrote a letter dated March 21 describing the situation, but has so far not received an answer.
In 2017, Quebec received 24,980 asylum seekers, an increase of 700 per cent from previous years.
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