B.C. premier ‘confused’ on reason for Quebec immigration funding: minister

Click to play video: 'Ottawa to give Quebec $750M to deal with surge in temporary immigrants'
Ottawa to give Quebec $750M to deal with surge in temporary immigrants
Ottawa to give Quebec $750M to deal with surge in temporary immigrants – Jun 10, 2024

Immigration Marc Miller says he believes B.C. Premier David Eby is “confused” on why Quebec is getting $750 million to help pay for a surge in temporary residents, namely for asylum seekers.

That comes after Eby suggested federal funding was being “showered” on Quebec after an offering announced on Monday.

“I think perhaps there was some confusion on the premier’s behalf as to what this money was for…. It’s to compensate Quebec for two fiscal years of costs they’ve incurred with respect to the disproportionate flow of asylum seekers,” Miller said Tuesday following the cabinet meeting in Ottawa.

At the closing news conference for the Western Premiers’ Conference on Monday, Eby said federal immigration is being “showered” on Ontario and Quebec “at the expense” of Western Canada.

“And so to see a single-province agreement with Quebec, is an underlining of a sense of frustration that I heard around the table,” Eby said, suggesting Western provinces are “scrabbling around for what’s left over. It’s not acceptable.”

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Quebec Premier François Legault had said the offer from Ottawa came after he asked for $1 billion to cover costs associated with a surge in temporary residents.

Eby said Canadians are seeing resources go to Ontario and Quebec “at the expense, in my opinion, of the West.”

“That announcement today with Quebec, frankly, is the straw that broke this camel’s back,” he said on Monday.

“I cannot understand how that could happen. I cannot understand why we cannot get a per capita share at a minimum.”

Click to play video: 'Trudeau says feds, province of Quebec need to work together on immigration'
Trudeau says feds, province of Quebec need to work together on immigration

Legault has previously said the number of temporary residents coming to the province — including asylum seekers, students and workers — had “exploded” to 560,000, a number he says doubled in two years, straining social services. The Quebec government says 177,000 of the temporary residents are asylum seekers — representing 54 per cent of claimants in Canada.

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B.C. government figures show there were 475,778 non-permanent residents in the province as of Jan. 1, an increase of about 84 per cent from two years earlier. The province saw record growth in non-permanent residents in 2023, with 128,141 arriving in B.C., according to government data.

For non-permanent residents in B.C., asylum claimants make up the smallest proportion, with 14,939 last year. People with work permits account for 50.7 per cent of non-permanent residents in the province as of the end of 2023.

Miller said B.C. has not applied for funds meant to help house asylum seekers since 2019, but is open to having a conversation with the Eby government on the issue.

“There’s also stuff that is entirely within B.C.’s jurisdiction when it comes to international students. They, alongside Ontario, have aggressively recruited international students abroad, with some real distortions in the system that they themselves have acknowledged and are reigning in,” Miller said.

On Tuesday, Transport Minister and Liberal Quebec lieutenant Pablo Rodriguez said that province takes on an outsized role in welcoming temporary residents.

“Well, Quebec has accepted, a lot of people — way more than its weight. So we’re just compensating for what they’re doing,” Rodriguez said prior to the weekly cabinet meeting.

“If there’s a lot of people going to B.C., we have to look at it, but Quebec received a big, big chunk of people entering the country, so it’s just recognizing that.”

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— with files from The Canadian Press. 

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