Canada’s immigration minister responds after B.C. premier criticizes QC deal

The federal immigration minister is firing back, a day after B.C. Premier David Eby criticized a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar deal between Canada and Quebec to help that province pay for a surge in temporary immigrants.

On Monday, Eby questioned the $750-million agreement, saying this was just another example of spending in the east at the expense of the west.

“To see a single-province agreement with Quebec is an underlining of a sense of frustration that I heard around the table. And I won’t put this on anyone else, but I will say, for British Columbia, how frustrated we are to see the money being showered down on Quebec and Ontario, and us grovelling around for what’s leftover,” the premier said at a new conference in Whitehorse, where the Western Premiers’ Conference was being held.

“They’ve offered us nothing. Zero dollars. With 10,000 people coming to our province every 37 days, we have, right now, refugees in homeless shelters. We have international students grappling with a lack of supports in the community.”

However, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said Tuesday there may have been “some confusion on the premier’s behalf as to what this money was for.”

“We need provinces like British Columbia to step up when it comes to actually portioning asylum seekers. It doesn’t come without financial support from the federal government,” Miller said.

The minister explained the millions was meant to compensate Quebec for two years of high costs associated with a disproportionate number of asylum claimants.

Government data shows 65 per cent of asylum seekers arrived in Quebec last year, compared to under two per cent in B.C.

Hamish Telford, an associate professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley, tells CityNews he feels the upcoming provincial election may have played a role in Eby’s spirited remarks.

“I’m guessing that he anticipated it would be something the BC Conservatives and John Rustad would seize on, so he wanted to jump on it before they did,” Telford explained.

On the other side, he says maybe the premier is trying to appease the public by asking for a piece of the pie.

CityNews has reached out to the premier’s office for comment.

-With files from The Canadian Press