Taking in refugees Miller finds Quebec 39exaggerating the numbers39

Taking in refugees: Miller finds Quebec 'exaggerating the numbers'

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller is questioning the goodwill of the Legault government, which is “exaggerating” the number of refugees it is taking in and not really seeking to “sit down with Ottawa to negotiate,” he said.

“The reception of asylum seekers is not the sole responsibility of the federal government. It is clear that Quebec has done more than its fair share. “Sometimes I find and believe that he exaggerates the numbers, but the reality is that we have to help each other,” said Mr. Miller in a press briefing on Tuesday morning.

Quebec, which last year demanded about $460 million in compensation for all refugee reception services, increased the bill to $1 billion last week.

Quebec ministers took to the public square last week to demand this new sum as Quebec's social services neared a “breaking point” and the overall situation risks turning into a “humanitarian crisis.”

According to Statistics Canada, Quebec hosts more than half (55%) of the country's refugees, more than double its demographic weight within Canada (between 22% and 23%).

But Ottawa says Quebec is not taking into account the impact of “secondary migration,” which saw nearly 30,000 migrants leave the province after arriving in 2022 and 2023. This brings the number of refugees in Canada living in Quebec to 35%.

Mr. Miller explained that the billion dollars requested by Quebec today is therefore partly related to “points that are, in some respects, Quebec's responsibility.”

But beyond the numbers, the minister questioned Quebec's approach to the matter – that is, throwing stones in the public square, saying there were no discussions between the two levels.

“The reality is that I never got the impression from the Quebec government that they really wanted to sit down together, apart from wanting to do it in the public square, which is not the way to do things between responsible governments .”

A meeting between deputy ministers at both levels took place on Monday last week and negotiations over funding are continuing, Ottawa says.

Minister Miller assured that the federal government remains ready to engage with Quebec.