Asylum seekers: “criminal” delays, says former Liberal minister

François Legault and Philippe Couillard, same fight?

We remember, this one has already accused the other of “blowing on the embers of intolerance”. The fact remains that, in 2018, on the issue of asylum seekers, he practically spoke the same language as his CAQ successor.

Four ministers

April 2018: the situation at Roxham Road worsens. The number of asylum seekers (AD) entering the Dominion irregularly is at record highs. 91% transit through Quebec. Like today, it costs the Quebec treasury dearly and Ottawa turns a deaf ear.

Four ministers from the Couillard government hold a major press conference to deliver an ultimatum to the federal government. Resources are “saturated”. The “carrying capacity” has reached its limit.

  • Listen to the political meeting between Antoine Robitaille and Benoît Dutrizac via QUB :

The portfolios represented are practically the same as at the recent CAQ press conference.

At the time it was:

• David Heurtel, Immigration. Last Tuesday, C. Fréchette.

• Jean-Marc Fournier, Canadian Relations. Last Tuesday, J.-F. Roberge.

• Sébastien Proulx, Education. Last Tuesday, B. Drainville.

• Lucie Charlebois, Minister for Health.

Six years ago, the figures were much lower (25,510 DA in Quebec in 2017 compared to 65,330 in 2023), but the vocabulary and findings are also dramatic.

In 2018 as in 2023, the ministers emphasize that Quebec must assume increasing costs for “last resort assistance, accommodation, health care, education, legal aid”.

Huge costs

The 2017 bill is estimated at $146 million. Last week, Minister Fréchette maintained that for the years 2021 to 2023, it is “a total of more than 1 billion that the federal government must reimburse Quebec.”

In 2018, PM Couillard, in the chamber, maintained that the situation was alarming in the school sector. He speaks of 2,500 more students compared to 2018: “It’s as if there were five more schools!”

In 2023? Minister Drainville spoke last week of the equivalent of “52 primary schools dedicated to reception and francization”.

“Archive photo”

“Criminal” deadlines

In 2018, Liberal ministers emphasized that Quebec received more than its share of DA due to geography, but also the attractiveness of its basket of services incomparable to that of Canada. This is still true in 2023.

David Heurtel, in an interview at my microphone at QUB on Thursday, said he understood the claims of the Legault government. Except on one aspect: “I don’t believe that this endangers the nation.”

According to him, the heart of the problem is the “gross negligence” of the Trudeau government, which has done nothing to reduce AD ​​processing times. The standard was to process cases in 60 days. In 2018 as in 2023, it takes five years! A waiting period during which the ADs, inevitably, take hold.

“Without these delays, we would not have all this pressure on our services!” Once the interview is over, the person who returned to the practice of law adds a qualifier: the Trudeau government’s inaction in the face of this is “criminal”!

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