According to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), 142 migrants who crossed the border through Roxham Road in Quebec and Ontario have been transferred to hotels in the Vancouver area of British Columbia (B.C.). The B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs confirmed that the IRCC has requested several provinces, including B.C., to receive these migrants. B.C. has leased 110 hotel rooms in the Metro Vancouver area to accommodate these arrivals, with the intention of filling all 110 rooms.
Last year, Quebec’s provincial government asked Ottawa to transfer migrants to other jurisdictions due to complaints about the strain on social support and healthcare systems. In 2021, 39,171 migrants crossed into Quebec through the unofficial border crossing, leading to tension between Ottawa, Quebec, and the U.S. Since June 2022, the federal government has been redistributing migrants from Quebec to Ontario to reduce pressure on services and accommodation in Quebec.
In February, the IRCC transferred 2,841 Roxham migrants to privately owned hotel rooms in Niagara Falls, and between January and March, another 1,100 migrants were welcomed in Windsor. Both city councils requested additional federal resources to cope with the increasing number of migrants needing accommodation. As a result, migrants now occupy around 2,000 of the 16,000 hotel rooms in Niagara Falls.
Provinces and municipalities are responsible for caring for asylum seekers while the federal government determines their eligibility as refugees. Since 2017, they have paid $551.6 million through the Interim Housing Assistance Program, which covers the costs of interim housing for asylum seekers. The federal government leases hotel rooms as temporary lodging for migrants while they await work permits and process refugee claims.
Concerns have been raised about the long-term accommodation plan for the migrants, as they are supposed to be temporarily housed in hotels. Windsor and Niagara Falls may face challenges due to the upcoming tourist season. It is expected that the federal government will relocate the migrants as part of a cooperative approach.
As of June, B.C. Municipal Affairs has been funding local settlement organizations through the B.C. Settlement and Integration Services program. They support claimants with housing, employment, and enrolling in provincial services. The provincial government plans to quadruple the program’s budget from $6 million to nearly $26 million next April. The exact gender breakdown of the migrants and the cities and hotels they currently reside in have not been disclosed.
Between March 2020 and January 2023, the IRCC spent $136 million on temporary accommodations, meals, security, and transportation for migrants who entered Canada via Roxham Road. On March 24, U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to close Roxham Road, with Canada agreeing to take in an additional 15,000 migrants from the U.S. The closure of Roxham Road leaves the fate of several southern municipalities in Ontario and Quebec uncertain.
In conclusion, the federal government has transferred 142 Roxham migrants to hotels in the Vancouver area of British Columbia. This comes after Quebec requested the relocation of migrants due to strain on social support and healthcare systems. Similar transfers have occurred in Ontario, with Windsor and Niagara Falls facing challenges in accommodating the growing number of migrants. Provinces and municipalities are responsible for housing asylum seekers while their refugee claims are processed. The federal government leases temporary hotel rooms, but concerns have been raised about long-term accommodation plans. B.C. Municipal Affairs is providing funding for settlement organizations, and the IRCC has allocated significant funds for temporary accommodations. The closure of Roxham Road raises uncertainty for southern municipalities in Ontario and Quebec.