'At capacity,' Ontario wants Ottawa to foot the bill for asylum seekers
Published Friday, July 6, 2018 11:18AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 6, 2018 2:09PM EDT
OTTAWA –The Ontario government is saying the province is "at capacity," and is insisting on Ottawa footing the bill for any new asylum seekers that cross the border illegally.
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod made this declaration Friday, speaking to reporters. Her comments came on the heels of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying that the handling the influx of asylum seekers "requires" the co-operation of all levels of government.
In an interview with CP24 interview, Trudeau defended the federal government’s management of Canada's immigration system and related housing crunch, in the face of criticism from Ontario Premier Doug Ford that Trudeau’s approach to asylum seekers has overburdened local resources.
"We need to continue to work closely together, obviously this is a situation that requires all orders of government to work together," Trudeau said Friday.
However, MacLeod announced later Friday that the new PC provincial government would be taking a different approach. While the province will not be withdrawing from any immigration agreements, and will continue to provide employment and language services, it wants Ottawa to foot the bill for settlement and housing for those crossing irregularly.
She said while Ontario will welcome those who want to call the most populous province home, they have to follow the legal process.
"There are very clear rules, there are legal ports of entry for those seeking asylum against persecution. We will always welcome people who follow that process. Illegal border crossers are not following these rules and the federal government is not enforcing them," she said.
"Frankly they know better. It was the federal government who has encouraged this and it is the federal government who continues to usher it in."
MacLeod said the federal government’s approach has resulted in a housing crisis in the Toronto area, and has threatened social services. Now, it's on Ottawa to help pay for these costs and help find housing alternatives using federal "assets." MacLeod said she gave a list of such "assets," presumably building or land to put up the newcomers, to Trudeau yesterday.
"If Justin Trudeau wants to tweet out 'Canada welcomes everybody,' that's great, but he has to be responsible for that," MacLeod said.
Speaking to the opposing views emerging between the province and the federal government, Trudeau said that he is doing what is required.
"We recognize that there is a global situation where people are trying to cross borders and Ottawa is certainly taking responsibility for stepping up and addressing it,” Trudeau said earlier.
Trudeau cited Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and international obligations as to why those who cross into the country have the right to be processed, something he suggested yesterday Ford didn’t fully understand.
Speaking on CTV News Channel Friday morning, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen echoed Trudeau’s comments.
"Canadians expect all levels of government to work together to solve these issues," he said. "This is a legal responsibility, we can’t opt out of it, it's not a choice… we are obligated to give these people a fair hearing."
This morning Trudeau met with Toronto Mayor John Tory, and the matter of asylum seekers was on the agenda.
Tory has asked for many millions more than the $50 million the federal government has already earmarked for Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, to recoup some of the costs associated with taking in a considerable number of newcomers. Of this, Ontario is set to receive $11 million, though MacLeod said those funds have yet to flow and amounts to in her estimate, a tenth of what will be needed.
In the CP24 interview Trudeau also spoke to the ongoing issue of gun violence in Toronto and how he believes Bill C-71 regarding gun control will make it easier to control the flow of firearms into Canada; reiterated his response to a nearly 20-year-old allegation of "groping" involving him and a reporter in B.C.; and on the issue of tariffs and the state of relations between Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump, stated that "the relationship is what it is."