Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Spends Millions Housing and Feeding Border Crossers, Detains Only Some

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Spends Millions Housing and Feeding Border Crossers, Detains Only Some

Article excerpt

Canada spends millions on border crossers

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OTTAWA - As the United States faces mounting criticism over its treatment and detention of illegal migrants, new statistics released by the federal government show Canada's treatment of irregular border crossers stands in stark contrast.

The figures show Canada spent over $5 million in 2017 and the first part of 2018 on temporary housing, food and water to migrants who crossed into Canada from the United States through the unofficial crossing in St. Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. Some of this money also went towards security services.

The data was recently tabled in the House of Commons in response to written questions from Opposition MPs.

A detailed breakdown of expenditures for shelter and humanitarian services shows the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has paid for items such as generators and heaters, water and hotel rooms for irregular migrants.

The CBSA has also contracted the Canadian Red Cross to help provide services to asylum seekers in Quebec, where the vast majority of irregular border crossers have arrived this year.

This includes handing out hygiene kits, blankets and baby supplies such as diapers and formula. Basic health care services are also offered with the help of a nurse on site, and the option of transporting people to hospital for more serious health care needs.

Carl Boisvert, spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross in Montreal, says volunteers offer food and shelter to asylum seekers from the time they arrive in Canada until they are cleared by border security officials to proceed to Montreal or Toronto to await a hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board -- a period that can last a few days.

"We make sure that they are safe and we are taking care of them," said Boisvert.

Most asylum seekers who arrive in Canada are simply seeking a better life after fleeing their home countries due to war and violence, Boisvert says.

When they arrive, they are warmly welcomed.

"I'm proud to be in this position," he said.

"(The asylum seekers) crossed borders and we know it is very difficult. They've made hard choices. And just being there to help them and say, 'Hi, welcome to Canada, the Red Cross can take care of you, we're going to provide you shelter, food and just make sure you are safe, for now,' I know there were some volunteers who were there who were saying they are honoured to just help other humans, even for a short time. …

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