Quebecers living by the Canada-United States border where thousands of migrants have crossed irregularly into the country since 2017 will be eligible for payments of up to $25,000, the federal government announced Wednesday.
Life along the previously sleepy Roxham Road — the main entry point for migrants entering the country on foot — has been disturbed, and residents deserve to be compensated, Border Security Minister Bill Blair said.
“I’ve been there. I’ve spoken to the residents. I’ve seen the level of activity of the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency and other officials that has impacted what is otherwise a quiet, rural road,” Blair told reporters.
Roughly 96 per cent of all migrants who have crossed illegally into Canada since 2017 have done so at Roxham Road.
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The federal Immigration Department says 16,000 people crossed the Canada-U.S. border illegally into Quebec through the end of October this year, and about 19,000 did last year.
Bureaucrats divided the Roxham Road area into three zones based on proximity to the border. People living in the closest zone are eligible to receive up to $25,000, those in the next closest $10,000, and those in the third zone $2,500.
A spokesperson for Blair could not say Wednesday how much the compensation will cost Ottawa.
Conservative party Leader Andrew Scheer said in the House of Commons he worries irregular crossings will become a permanent problem.
“The prime minister needs to stop asking others to pay for his failures,” Scheer said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded by stating Ottawa is investing $173 million to improve border security as well as to decrease the time it takes to process asylum seekers claims.
© 2018 The Canadian Press