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Immigration Stress Prompts Urgent Meeting Between Quebec Premier and PM Trudeau

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is set to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Quebec City on Monday to address immigration concerns. The focus will be on the equitable distribution of asylum seekers across Canada.

This meeting follows their March 15 discussion, where Trudeau denied Legault’s request for full immigration control to be transferred to Quebec. Legault claims that the influx of asylum seekers is straining provincial services.

In 2022, Quebec accepted more asylum seekers than the rest of Canada combined. Despite the closure of Roxham Road in 2023, the number of arrivals continues to rise, particularly through airports. 

In January 2023 alone, Quebec registered 60,000 new asylum seekers, adding significant pressure to provincial services.

Quebec has provided $33 million in aid for 43,200 asylum seekers as of last October, but the financial strain continues. Legault pointed out the increase in asylum claims from Mexico, attributing part of this to the visa-free entry from Mexico to Canada. 

He criticized the airports in Toronto and Montreal for their inefficiency in handling the influx. He called for stricter visa policies and equitable distribution of asylum seekers nationwide, possibly through busing measures.

Additionally, Legault is seeking federal reimbursement for the $470 million Quebec spent on asylum seekers in 2021 and 2022 and wants assurances for future costs.

Legault emphasized the broader immigration challenges Quebec faces. About one-third of the province’s 560,000 temporary immigrants are not francophone, predominantly residing in Montreal. This influx puts immense pressure on mental health services, homelessness services, social assistance, and education.

Legault urged the federal government to manage the number of temporary immigrants better to ensure adequate housing, health, and education services in Quebec.

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