Ottawa Paying to Move Roxham Road Migrants from Quebec to Other Provinces

Ottawa Paying to Move Roxham Road Migrants from Quebec to Other Provinces
Asylum seekers from Congo cross the unofficial border at Roxham Road into Quebec, from Champlain, New York, on Feb. 9, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz)
Peter Wilson

The federal government is paying to have migrants who are entering the country at the unofficial border crossing of Roxham Road moved from Quebec to other provinces, says Minister of Immigration Christine Fréchette.

Fréchette told reporters in Quebec City on Feb. 14 that the provincial government is “very happy” with the federal government’s action, which follows calls from Quebec for Ottawa to solve the issue of migrants seeking asylum after entering Canada through Roxham Road.

“We are starting to see results,” Fréchette said during a media scrum, according to the Globe and Mail.

Fréchette said that nearly all of the 380 migrants who arrived in Quebec through Roxham Road on Feb. 11 and Feb. 12 were relocated to other provinces, mostly Ontario.

She said the federal government recently booked 500 hotel rooms in Ontario to house the migrants.

“We are expecting that this new approach persists,” she said, adding that Quebec is asking Ottawa to keep the share of migrants who enter Canada through Roxham Road and stay in Quebec at around 23 percent.

Fréchette said that around 60,000 migrants claiming asylum arrived in Quebec last year, which she added was far beyond the province’s “welcoming capacity.”

Free Bus Tickets

A recent report by the New York Post said that some migrants in New York City were being given free bus tickets to Plattsburgh, N.Y.—a city just 35 kilometres south of the Quebec border—from which migrants can travel to Roxham Road by shuttle or taxi in about 30 minutes.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said following the report’s publication that the city doesn’t pressure migrants to leave, but that some express a desire to move on to other places, including Canada, which the city then partially facilitates.
On Feb. 15, Quebec Premier François Legault urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to issue an official statement dissuading migrants from coming to Canada in search of asylum.

“It’s about time that Justin Trudeau makes a new tweet to say, ‘Don’t come anymore,’ because we’ve exceeded our welcoming capacity,” Legault told reporters in Quebec City, a reference to the prime minister’s 2017 tweet welcoming refugees to come to Canada.

Federal Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said on the same day that Ottawa was “in discussion” with the other provinces about the high number of asylum-seekers entering Canada on Roxham Road to find a way to “lighten the burden on Quebec.”

“There’s nobody who’s going to be pushed or anything. It’s done on a voluntary basis. But we recognize that Quebec’s effort here is colossal, and we’ve been there to support it since the beginning,” Rodriguez told reporters.

The Canadian Press and Andrew Chen contributed to this report.