Feds ship 142 'Roxham migrants' to Vancouver-area hotels, Surrey

A Commons Inquiry by Conservative MP Lianne Rood revealed Surrey as one of the cities where the feds rent hotel rooms for Roxham migrants.

Feds ship 142 'Roxham migrants' to Vancouver-area hotels, Surrey
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According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), 142 Roxham migrants from Québec and Ontario have been transferred to Vancouver-area hotels in B.C.

"IRCC has asked several provinces, including B.C., to receive a transfer of claimants from Ontario who arrived through Roxham Road," the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs told True North.

"B.C. is assisting the federal government, and IRCC has leased 110 hotel rooms in the Metro Vancouver area to accommodate these arrivals…IRCC intends to fill all 110 rooms."

The federal government transferred all 142 migrants to the province last month.

Québec's provincial government asked Ottawa to offload migrants to other jurisdictions last year after it fielded complaints that the migrant surge strained its social support and healthcare systems.

Last year, 39,171 migrants crossed Québec through the unofficial border crossing, causing significant tension between Ottawa, Québec and the U.S. since 2017.

In June 2022, the feds began redistributing migrants from Québec to Ontario to reduce the "pressure on publicly funded services and accommodation in Quebec," including Niagara Falls and Windsor.

The province spent upwards of $20 million a month covering the social benefits of migrants and asylum seekers. 

In February, the IRCC transferred 2,841 Roxham migrants to some 1,000 privately owned hotel rooms in Niagara Falls the month before.

Between January and March, Windsor welcomed another 1,100 migrants. 

Soon after, both city councils requested additional federal resources to cope with the growing number of migrants needing accommodation.

Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati said the migrants occupied between 1,500 and 2,000 hotel rooms, with Windsor tapping out at 500 rooms.

According to the IRCC, provincial governments must care for asylum seekers while the federal government determines their eligibility as a refugee.

Provinces and municipalities have paid $551.6 million since 2017 through the Interim Housing Assistance Program, which covers "extraordinary costs of interim housing for asylum seekers."

The federal government leased hotel rooms and placed them in temporary lodging while they got work permits and processed refugee claims. 

According to Windsor city staff, about 250 of those 1,100 refugees left Windsor, with 850 remaining at hotels.

"We need to know the long-term plan for their accommodation because they're supposed to be temporarily in the hotels," added the Niagara Falls mayor, adding: "The tourists are on their way."

He posed that the feds would relocate the migrants as part of a "Team Canada approach." 

As of June, B.C. Municipal Affairs funded local settlement organizations through the B.C. Settlement and Integration Services (BCSIS) program, "supporting claimants with searching for housing, finding employment, and enrolling in provincial services."

With a $6 million annual budget, the provincial government is quadrupling that figure to nearly $26 million next April.

While B.C. did not disclose the gender breakdown of the migrants nor did they disclose which cities and hotels the migrants currently reside in, a Commons Inquiry by Conservative MP Lianne Rood revealed Surrey as one of the cities where the feds rent hotel rooms for Roxham migrants.

Between March 20, 2020, and January 31, 2023, the IRCC spent $136 million on "temporary accommodations," meals, security and transport for migrants who entered Canada via Roxham Road. 

On March 24, U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to close Roxham Road effectively in exchange for Canada taking in an additional 15,000 migrants from their southern neighbour, leaving the fate of several southern municipalities across Ontario and Quebec in the air.

In January, 4,875 migrants crossed illegally into Québec, falling to 30 last month.

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