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Canada: Trudeau defends handling of asylum seekers

09 July 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with Toronto Mayor John Tory this morning, against the backdrop of the city's escalating gun violence and Ontario's clashes with Ottawa over carbon pricing and refugee resettlement. "The City of Toronto has been clear that we need assistance to deal with unprecedented numbers of refugee claimants and asylum seekers". In Toronto, thousands of refugees are now in the shelter system. But Ottawa has for months hinted it could return hundreds of millions in revenues it will raise directly to taxpayers, and not to governments that oppose its plan.

Press Secretary to the Prime Minister of Ontario Doug Ford said Thursday, July 5, that the Federal government has pushed people to the illegal penetration in Canada and continues to encourage those passing through the border between the US and Quebec, arriving in Ontario.

Trudeau, speaking Friday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning, said Canada has an obligation to help those seeking protection, but that there is a rigorous system to ensure only people who need that help are allowed to stay.

"I have talked to a lot of people who ask me - and it is a reasonable question - "Why don't we just stop them at the border, why don't we prevent them from coming over" and the answer is a combination of the charter, global obligations and quite frankly due process", Trudeau told CP24 during a one-on-one interview prior to his meeting with Tory.

"Thousands of refugee claimants and asylum seekers are in Toronto's shelter system - this includes 800 people, many who are children, who will need shelter after August 9 when we can no longer use two college dormitories", Tory said in a statement Thursday. "If they are not they will be sent home".

"The response that I got from across Ontario was fabulously positive and they've agreed, many of them from different parts of the province, to help", Tory said, adding numerous mayors suggested they also had jobs to offer newcomers.

The city of London won't pledge immediate help to Toronto as that city struggles to deal with an influx of asylum seekers.

Ontario "Sunshine List" grows, now includes 131,741 workers and that list has been growing alarmingly in recent years along with the salaries of many Ontario public sector managers. "We're going to sit down and talk about it".

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"They, and they alone, should be be responsible for the housing and settlement costs", MacLeod told reporters at Queen's Park.

"The discussion now has to be about rebuilding capacity - reopening beds and (operating rooms), restoring funding - not centralizing, cutting, closing and privatization our local hospitals", Natalie Mehra, the coalition's executive director, said in a statement.

Boyd said Canada, and its provinces, have been long-standing co-signators to global agreements which give asylum seekers legal rights.

"We have invested in faster processing of refugee claims, we have invested in reimbursing provinces for the additional costs but make no mistake that we have legal obligations". The answer, he said, is the law.

"What I'm simply saying to the federal government (is), you have resources, you have assets in the city of Toronto, you're going to need to use those", she said.

NDP MPP France Gelinas said the solution to the province's hallway medicine crisis is to hire more frontline staff like nurses and to add more hospital beds to the system. "We're working with Toronto to make sure that we have a plan in place to deal with that situation".

Meanwhile, some of those tasked with helping to house the newcomers say the disagreement between Ottawa and Ontario over the issue has left them in limbo. "Canadians expect us to work together at all levels of government", he said.

Canada: Trudeau defends handling of asylum seekers