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Quebec presses for help from feds amid anticipated jump in asylum seekers

Quebec presses for help from feds amid anticipated jump in asylum seekers
From CBC - April 16, 2018

The Quebec government says it's unable to handle thedroves of asylum seekers who continue to cross into the province and is calling on the federal government for help.

"Quebec is ready to do its part from a humanitarian point of view, but reaching the point of saturation of our services has to be equally considered," Quebec Immigration Minister David Heurtel said at a news conference in Montreal this morning.

"And the fact is, for the government of Quebec, that point has been reached."

StartingApril 24, the government said it will not take in any more asylum seekers who did not come into the province through a legal border checkpoint,once 85 per cent of the1850 daily places available in the temporary housing centres is reached.

"It's not a question of injecting more money, it's a question of resources," said Public Health MinisterLucie Charlebois.

"On the front lines, we have people who are on sick leave, we also have people who are asking to start working in other services because the pressure is so intense."

Call for more federal help

The ministers said the province did its part after the U.S. government's announced it would end the temporary residency permit (TRP) program for Haitians, which triggered the massive border crossing wave last spring and summer.

But they saidthe federal government has to step up and take responsibility for those who cross illegally.

"We do not take this lightly. We are ready to work with the federal government to find a new solution, but the status quo is not acceptable," Heurtel said.

Heurtel will be in Ottawa Wednesday for a meeting of the intergovernmental task force on irregular migration, which was struck to specifically examine the issue of the influx of asylum seekers entering Canada at illegal border crossings.

Jean-Marc Fournier, Quebec's minister responsible for Canadian Relations, said the province has been accommodating and assisting asylum seekers for humanitarian reasons, but has no legal obligation to do so and has received no federal funding.

He said Ottawa needs to come up with a plan to take in asylum seekers, determine when and how they arrived in the U.S., quickly process their application in line with the federal legislation, quickly produce work permitsand redistribute those who do not want to stay in Quebec to other areas of the country.

More asylum seekers crossing into Quebec

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