Ministers Hussen, Garneau and Goodale provided an update on progress regarding asylum seekers in Quebec and announced new outreach initiatives in Nigeria

News release

May 7, 2018 – Montreal, QC –Today the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, and the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, provided an update on the Government of Canada’s progress to address the disproportionate impact of asylum seekers in Quebec.

The Government of Canada is fully engaged with the issue, and first and foremost is ensuring the safety and security of Canadians. The RCMP arrests people who cross the border irregularly, and they receive a thorough security screening.

The Ministers commended the constructive humanitarian work of the Government of Quebec to manage the situation and reaffirmed their support to help move those claimants who do not wish to remain in Quebec. The efforts of the working group with Ontario to develop a triage system to allow alternative movements for asylum claimants arriving in Quebec are progressing and include a recent fact-finding mission by Ontario officials to Quebec to help advance the work on the triage system.

Given the high concentration of asylum claimants from Nigeria who were only in the United States (US) legally for a brief time before crossing the border, two concrete actions were announced to mitigate the problem at the source. Three Canadian officials have been stationed to work with US visa officials in Lagos and Minister Hussen will travel to Nigeria this month for discussions with Nigerian officials. At the highest levels, both Canada and the United States have reaffirmed their determination to work together to combat abuse of US travel documents.

Budget 2018 is dedicating $173.2 million over two years to strengthen border security and speed up processing of asylum claimants arriving in 2018-2019. These funds will also support claim intake, front-end security screening procedures, eligibility processing and removals. These investments will ensure that those claims that are refused are moved to the removal process in an expedited manner. The IRB has also changed its hearings schedule to address many of the irregular border crossing cases coming in.   

To ensure asylum seekers can support themselves while awaiting a decision, the processing of work permits has been accelerated, with a 30-day service standard. 97 per cent of work permits for asylum claimants have been approved; and since April 2017, more than 12,500 work permits have been approved for asylum claimants in Quebec.

Furthermore, new facilities for short-term accommodations during processing in Lacolle will be installed to help better manage the pressure on Quebec’s resources.

The Government of Canada will continue to enforce all Canadian laws, and to respect all Canada's international obligations toward those who genuinely need our help and protection. Ensuring the integrity of our borders and our rules-based immigration system is a vital national priority.


“While we adhere to international conventions and want to offer asylum to those fleeing persecution and war, the fact remains that there are very specific laws, rules and criteria to be respected in order to find refuge in our country. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and coordinate government resources to ensure the safety of all, asylum seekers and Canadian citizens.”

-  The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

"Coming across the border in a way that seeks to circumvent our procedures is no free ticket to Canada.  As a matter of due process, asylum seekers are required to prove their claim for protection.  Those who cannot do so become inadmissible and will be removed.  We will continue to ensure an orderly managed border, including the compassionate treatment of those who genuinely need Canada's protection.  And we will continue to work with the United States to deter the misuse of travel documents that has helped drive the influx."

-  The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“Our Government’s priority first and foremost is to ensure that all laws are followed to protect the safety and security of Canadians. Through our actions to date, we have applied our policies and procedures to protect our border, while continuing to respect Canada’s domestic and international obligations.”

-  The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Associated links


Contacts for media only

Mathieu Genest
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Relations
Canada Border Services Agency

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