Ottawa is renting 250 hotel rooms to house six migrants in Québec: Immigration Canada

As of May 21, Immigration Canada revealed about 1% of the rooms remained occupied in Québec.

Ottawa is renting 250 hotel rooms to house six migrants in Québec: Immigration Canada
Google Maps/ Quality Inn & Suites Hotel in Brossard, Quebec
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According to Immigration Canada, Ottawa rents 250 hotel rooms on the taxpayer dime to house only six migrants in Québec.

From 2018 to October 2022, 14 hotels received contracts nationwide to house migrants. Documents obtained by Conservative MP Michelle Rempel-Garner showed a surge in Roxham migrants during that period. 

In 2018, only 50 required hotel accommodations, rising to 27,555 in October 2022. However, the closure of Roxham Road on March 24 drastically reduced the occupancy rate of 'migrant hotels,' which neared two-thirds (64%) last March. 

As of May 21, Immigration Canada revealed about 1% of the rooms remained occupied in Québec.

On March 24, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden announced the signing of an ʼadditional protocolʼ on the Safe Third Country Agreement. It amended a loophole in that agreement which permitted those who enter Canada via an unofficial crossing to remain in the country without the immediate threat of deportation.

Since March 24, Canada Border Services have identified 484 migrants who attempted to cross the Canada-U.S. border between official ports of entry via Québec.

In the first month alone, border patrols captured 264 people attempting to enter Canada between official ports of entry. Of that, they deported 185 individuals to the U.S. and approved 78 others to seek asylum. One person voluntarily withdrew their application.

"When people crossing between ports of entry are stopped by the RCMP or local police, they are brought to a designated port of entry…from where they will be sent back to the United States if they are not eligible," said CBSA spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé.

According to Public Services and Procurement Canada, hotels still operating under the tutelage of the federal government received a fixed rate from the government to temporarily house migrants, regardless of room occupancy.

Bloc Québécois Immigration critic Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe questioned Ottawa's management of migrant spending following the closure of Roxham Road.

"I have often asked the question: Is there a clause in the contracts that renders them null and void following the closure of Roxham Road? he asked during a media interview.

On March 24, the feds pegged the costs to house migrants at $61.5 million over ten years temporarily. However, taxpayers will be on the hook for another $14 million contract coming into effect on July 1 to provide health care and "integration support" for migrants entering Quebec.

"The contract will start on July 1, 2023, as planned. It remains unchanged," wrote an Immigration Canada spokesperson.

Between March 20, 2020, and January 31, 2023, the feds spent $136 million on temporary accommodations, meals, security, and transport for Roxham migrants. 

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

In February, Québec Premier François Legault asked Ottawa to permanently close the unofficial entry point, citing the continued strain Roxham migrants put on the province's social services and healthcare systems.

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) said it could take up to 23% of asylum seekers moving forward, contending their "capacity is not unlimited." 

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

"We cannot give services to so many people...It takes time to build houses. We cannot tomorrow decide to add 36,000 places for them," Legault told reporters then.

"It is time for Justin Trudeau to put out a new tweet to say not to come anymore because we have exceeded our reception capacity," he added. "We have problems with housing, school capacity, and hospital staff. At some point, Trudeau has to send a new message."

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre openly called for Ottawa to close Roxham Road in January. "It is not legal to cross there. That is a reality," he said.

The Bloc Québecois echoed those sentiments. However, PPC leader Maxime Bernier was the only one to visit the unofficial border crossing after expressing concerns for several years.

"I am at Roxham Road, and as you can see, I cannot go any further as the police do not want us here," he said in late February.

"We at the PPC have a solution for that. We are not American — we won't build a wall — but we can build a fence and [instruct] the RCMP to do their job. We must stop [illegal] migration and ensure our borders are respected."

In 2022, 39,171 illegal immigrants entered Québec through Roxham. "These people are jumping the queue," added Bernier. "We must have the courage to demand respect [for our sovereignty]."

To alleviate Québec's concerns, the federal government transported the vast majority of 5,300 migrants to Windsor and Niagara Falls, Ontario, with both requesting federal funding to assist with providing them "temporary accommodations." The IRCC said about 3,300 migrants seeking asylum in Ontario came through Roxham Road.

However, a surge of illegal immigration at Roxham in 2021 and 2022 cost taxpayers nearly $87.8 million to pay for "temporary accommodations for unvaccinated asymptomatic asylum seekers without a suitable quarantine plan."

According to government data, nearly two-thirds of asylum claims in Canada last year occurred in Québec, with most coming from Haiti, Turkey, Colombia, Chile, Pakistan and Venezuela.

Aggregate data, revealed by Conservative MP Chris Lewis on the number of asylum seekers entering the country each year, has steadily increased since Justin Trudeau became prime minister in 2015.

Under a Conservative government led by Stephen Harper, about 16,000 asylum seekers entered Canada in 2015. Under Trudeau, Canada exceeded that number this January and February alone.

Between 2015 to 2016, the number of asylum seekers rose from 16,115 to 23,910, respectively. 

Between January 2013 and February 2023, Canada received 396,575 asylum seekers — one-quarter of those arrived in 2022 alone at 92,445. 

Though Ottawa alleged they closed the border in 2020 and 2021 owing to the COVID pandemic. Trudeau admitted the approach was "reasonably effective." 

However, the number of asylum seekers entering Canada remained on par or exceeded 2016 data for those years at 23,760 and 25,160 persons, respectively. 

Effectively, the number of claims quadrupled from 2016 to 2022.

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