Quebec is increasing its funding to community groups that help refugee claimants as the province grapples with a sharp increase of people coming through the unofficial border crossing at Roxham Road, south of Montreal.
The announcement came on the same day the mayor of New York revealed that his administration helps provide bus tickets to migrants looking to leave the city, including those travelling north to claim asylum in Canada.
Quebec’s Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette said she was “surprised” by the story and that it highlights the need for Ottawa to solve the problem at Roxham Road, used by tens of thousands of people last year.
She and the Minister of Social Solidarity and Community Action, Chantal Rouleau, announced $3.5-million in funding for dozens of groups helping to provide shelter, food and clothing to newcomers. They were responding to a recent call for help from community organizations.
“Right now, in Quebec, the resources devoted to immigrants and to the most vulnerable people are stretched to the limit,” Ms. Fréchette said. “Obviously the large number of people entering Quebec through Roxham Road is contributing to this overload.”
Roughly 60,000 asylum seekers arrived in Quebec last year, double the annual number from before the pandemic, the minister added, calling it an “unprecedented situation.”
New York Mayor Eric Adams told Fox 5 Monday morning that his administration helps in the “reticketing process” for people who arrive in the city but want to go elsewhere.
He told the news station that the city does not push or force people to leave but some express a desire to move on to other places, including Canada.
His comments come after the New York Post reported that some migrants in New York City are being given free tickets to Plattsburgh, N.Y., from where they travel about half an hour by shuttle or taxi to cross into Quebec at Roxham Road.
An official with Mr. Adams’s office said the city doesn’t treat requests for bus tickets to Plattsburgh any differently than those for other American cities.
In October, 2022, Mr. Adams declared a state of emergency as the number of people in New York City’s overwhelmed homeless shelters soared amid the influx of thousands of migrants from Latin America.
Federal opposition parties in Canada have repeatedly called for a review of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S. – a long-standing pact that requires border agents from each country to turn away asylum seekers from the other if they present themselves at official land border crossings – but anxiety about the situation has been sharpest in Quebec.
The RCMP intercepted 34,478 asylum seekers who did not use official ports of entry to enter Quebec between January and November of 2022, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data, compared with just 316 in the rest of the country.
The opposition Parti Québécois put forward a motion in the province’s National Assembly last week calling on the government to shut down Roxham Road with police help if necessary.
With files from Frédérik-Xavier Duhamel, The Canadian Press and The New York Times