Marc Miller defends $750M in immigration funding for Quebec, says B.C. premier was ‘confused’

B.C. Premier David Eby was “confused” about the facts when he criticized the federal government this week for giving Quebec $750 million to manage asylum seekers, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said Tuesday. 

“I think perhaps there is some confusion on the premier’s behalf as to what this money was for. The suggestion was it was for temporary residents. That is absolutely not the case,” Miller said in Ottawa.

The funding is “to compensate Quebec for two fiscal years of costs they’ve incurred for the disproportionate flow of asylum seekers,” Miller added. “I think perhaps he was confused about what the money was for.”

Last year, Quebec received 65 per cent of Canada’s asylum claimants entering through official border crossings and 95 per cent of claimants entering Canada illegally.

British Columbia received only 1.8 per cent of asylum seekers entering through official border crossings and just 4.2 per cent of refugees who entered Canada through unofficial border crossings.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was giving Quebec $750 million to fund the “provision of services to asylum seekers, including temporary housing.”

After that announcement, Eby told a news conference marking the end of the annual Western Premiers’ Conference in Whitehorse that the funding being directed to Quebec had come “at the expense” of the West. 

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

“I’ll say for British Columbia how frustrated we are to see the money being showered down on Quebec and Ontario, and us scrabbling around for what’s left over. It’s not acceptable.”

B.C. should ‘step up’ on refugees, Miller says

Eby said 10,000 people come to British Columbia every 37 days and a housing shortage in his province means refugees are being shunted to homeless shelters. Eby also said international students don’t have the support they need.

“When you talk about volumes, it’s important to disaggregate it because not all of them are necessarily comparable,” Miller said. “Let’s not confuse apples and oranges.

“The larger proportion of the amount of people that go to B.C. are on economic programs that bring capital to British Columbia and to Canada. They pay taxes, they are some of the reasons why the economy in B.C. is doing so well.”

Miller said provinces that take in more refugees can ask for support from the federal government. “We need provinces like British Columbia to step up when it comes to actually apportioning asylum seekers,” Miller said. 

Miller also said B.C. has not applied for any funding from the federal government’s interim housing assistance program for asylum seekers since 2019.

Earlier in the day, Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Canada’s minister of tourism with responsibility for economic development in Quebec, said the government will work with Premier Eby “to make sure that we’re there to support the people of British Columbia.”


Posted in CBC