Xpera received $56 million in government contracts to house migrants in Canada: documents

The company received payment for investigating, monitoring, and providing risk assessments for thousands of 'vulnerable asylum seekers.'

Xpera received $56 million in government contracts to house migrants in Canada: documents
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Over the past half-year, Xpera Risk Mitigation & Investigation received $56 million in government contracts to house migrants across central and eastern Canada.

According to Immigration Canada, Ottawa has provided over half the contracts to the privately-owned firm since March 2020 to provide Roxham migrants with temporary accommodation.

Xpera received payment for investigating, monitoring and providing risk assessments for thousands of “vulnerable asylum seekers”

Though most migrants arrived in Canada through the unofficial border crossing at Roxham Road, the company only had a few employees in a modest Laval office.

However, this did not detract Canadian authorities from hashing out a $37.5 million contract last October to find hotels and caterers for 3,000 asylum seekers in Quebec and 1,000 in Ontario.

Immigration Canada also entered into three over-the-counter agreements with Xpera for $23.8 million, citing the “urgency” of the migrant crisis.

"IRCC was confident that the company would be able to book hotel rooms and mobilize suppliers [...] within tight deadlines," writes a ministry spokesperson.

According to the department, 14 hotels received contracts nationwide to house migrants from 2018 to October 2022.

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. 

The surge has been widely attributed to a tweet by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2017, wherein he welcomed migrants to Canada to troll President Trump's ban on immigration from several failed states.

"To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you," he tweeted.

Since then, roughly 100,000 migrants have crossed over, with yearly averages varying between 16,000 and 39,000, except for 2021, when Trudeau secured the borders against COVID.

"It gives a little impression that the state of emergency has been used in all sources to conclude private contracts," reacts Nicolas Gagnon, Quebec director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, on the taxpayer money given to Xpera.

Though Trudeau closed Roxham on Saturday, his government gave the firm another $14.3 million contract in December to care for migrants in Quebec from July, though the deal to close Roxham was agreed to last April.

The president of Xpera declined a request for an interview from Journal de Montreal.

Though government records suggest the company received its first government contracts in 2021, Ottawa has rented hotels for “vulnerable asylum seekers” in Quebec and Ontario since at least 2015.

The federal government previously contracted third-party companies or directly with the hotelier for typically less than $3 million each. However, Xpera has entered into agreements of $75 million within Canada, though not exclusively for the migrant crisis.

"Betlet this and our current contracts with Immigration Canada. You can draw your conclusions," said an employee not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

On its website, Xpera claims to have 400 employees in 24 locations nationwide. In Laval, the offices remained vacant and were filled with cardboard boxes.

"There were two regional directors for Quebec, but they retired. They haven't hired anyone else since then," said the employee.

Lacolle, Quebec, the site of the infamous Roxham Road illegal crossing, has gone from 25 illegal border crossers housed in hotels in 2018 to 615 in 2022. Dorval now has over 10,000 migrants residing in hotels — 10 times the 2021 numbers. Before 2021, none required "accommodations" at Dorval.

In Cornwall, Ontario, the federal government paid for the social services used by nearly 800 migrants at the DEV Hotel and Conference Centre.

In February, the IRCC publicly disclosed it had signed a three-month contract with the new owners of the Ramada Inn on December 29, 2022, to host migrants from Roxham Road. 

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) spokesperson declined to detail the amount spent on specific hotel contracts.

In 2022, 39,171 migrants crossed Quebec through Roxham Road, causing significant tension between Ottawa, Quebec and the U.S. because of an influx of asylum seekers entering Canada since 2017.

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

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

According to Niagara Falls Mayor, Jim Diodati, the tourist destination has between 1,500 and 2,000 hotel rooms occupied by migrant families.

Since January, Windsor has welcomed over 1,100 migrants from Roxham. 

The federal government leased hotel rooms and placed them in temporary lodging while they got work permits and processed refugee claims. There are currently 439 rooms leased at three Windsor hotels for these claimants. 

According to city staff, about 250 of those 1,100 refugees have left Windsor, and about 850 remain at area hotels.

Since last summer, the federal government has paid the hotel owner of the DEV Hotel and Conference Centre in Cornwall over $15 million to accommodate them. However, Ontario taxpayers, especially locals, continue to fork up the costs for the social support accessed by migrants.

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."

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

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