1708854507 Asylum seekers and Quebec identity A question of numbers says

Asylum seekers and Quebec identity: “A question of numbers,” says Roberge

In an interview on Saturday on the radio show Les faits d'abord, Jean-François Roberge defended the intention of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) to go to the Supreme Court to challenge the Court of Appeal ruling handed down two weeks ago. which directs the government to allow asylum seekers access to early childhood centers (CPE) and subsidized daycare centers.

The decision not to offer access to subsidized CPE dates back to 2018 under the Liberal government [de Philippe Couillard], [et] was subsequently challenged, argued the French language minister. The number of people who arrived before was much smaller, and now they are arriving in very, very, very large numbers. Demand is increasing faster than supply and we can't keep up.

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The French language minister, who believes that Quebec's identity could be at risk if there are too many asylum seekers, nevertheless stressed that the point is not to blame people who rightly want to improve their lot.

Quebec this week asked Ottawa to double its aid to compensate for benefits for asylum seekers, and is now asking for $1 billion.

It's a question of numbers. There are currently more than 160,651 asylum seekers [au Canada]. More than 55% of the country's asylum seekers are in Quebec. We are no longer able to look after everyone, to welcome them into our classes, to train them. We lack space, we lack teachers. This poses challenges for both them and us as the host country.

Given that this figure represents less than 2% of Quebec's population, Minister Roberge responds that, according to the consultations carried out last September, Quebec should receive about 50,000 immigrants per year. […] In addition, many people arrive through airports as asylum seekers, especially in the Greater Montreal area.

Asylum seekers are greeted by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer.

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According to Minister Roberge, more than 55% of the country's asylum seekers are in Quebec territory. (archive photo)

Photo: The Canadian Press

Although the organization Amnesty International claims that this type of speech equates to hatred and xenophobia, Minister Roberge responded that Quebec has always been a country of hospitality.

French decline

The Commissioner for the French Language presented a report ten days ago which, with supporting figures, clearly shows that the French language in Quebec has been in sharp decline for around twenty years. years, complained the minister. This decline has gained momentum in the last two years due to the loss of border controls and, above all, the explosion in the number of asylum seekers.

It is true that the nation of Quebec has a special identity, and it is true that at the center of that identity is the French language. So if we welcome a lot of people who don't speak French, we won't be able to make them French, and even before we welcome them, French will be in decline, which is a problem.

“Closed Road,” reads in English at the entrance to Roxham Road.

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Since March 25, 2023, a new Canada-American agreement has governed irregular entries, for example on Roxham Road. (archive photo)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Romain Schué

There are very important issues with the Official Languages ​​Act and we have succeeded in changing Canadian law. So sometimes it takes time, but in the end we are heard. This week we made our voices heard very loudly: it resonates and will continue to resonate, promised Mr. Roberge, who is also Minister of Canadian Relations and Canadian Francophonie.

We strongly represented Quebec's vote for the closure of Roxham Road and received it. We would be in a much worse situation today if the road had not been closed, the minister argued. I think ultimately the Federal Government will have no choice but to review its position on Roxham Road.