Trudeau government looking at buying hotels to house asylum seekers: Influx isn't 'going down drastically anytime soon'

The Liberals spent over $93 million booking hotels to accommodate asylum seekers between September 2021 and January 2023, according to government data.

Trudeau government looking at buying hotels to house asylum seekers: Influx isn't 'going down drastically anytime soon'
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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The Justin Trudeau government is considering a plan to buy hotels that would house asylum seekers in an attempt to cut the cost of booking hotel rooms to accommodate them, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said in an interview.

The Liberals have taken out long leases on hotels to house thousands of refugee claimants, with Ottawa paying for approximately 4,000 hotel rooms for 7,300 asylum seekers this year.

Miller told the Globe and Mail that the government was looking at more sustainable and affordable options when it comes to housing refugees, including buying hotels.

He said this could involve putting Government of Canada employees inside converted hotels to provide front-line services to asylum seekers waiting for their cases to be heard.

Miller said that the number of asylum claimants "aren't going down drastically anytime soon."

The Liberals spent over $93 million booking hotels to accommodate asylum seekers between September 2021 and January 2023, according to government data. These include 10 hotels in Montreal, including a 112-room hotel near Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport.

More than $100 million has been spent housing asylum seekers in Niagara Falls hotels between February 2023 and February 2024, according to official figures obtained by Conservative MP Tony Baldinelli.

Nearly 5,000 asylum seekers, including from Nigeria, Kenya, Venezuela, and Colombia were accommodated in hotels during this time. The average refugee claimant stayed 113 days in a hotel at a cost of $208 per person, per day. This figure includes meals and security.

While housing asylum seekers is a provincial responsibility, the federal government has had to step in to pay for asylum seekers to stay in hotels since the start of the pandemic. Miller told the Globe and Mail that alternatives have been considered, including the construction of reception centres like the one being planned in Ontario's Peel region which would provide temporary shelter for around 1,300 asylum claimants each month.

The Liberals have pledged $750 million to Quebec to help it deal with the influx of asylum seekers after complaints from the party's political leadership that it was putting strain on housing, education, and health care.

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