February 18, 2019

Political head butting: Prime Minister and Ontario Premier meet

09 July 2018, 04:42 | Devin Moran

Trudeau suggests Ford doesn't fully understand Canada's refugee system

Justin Trudeau

At a news conference on Friday morning, Ontario's Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod said that while her government will continue to offer various supports to refugees, they can not and will not shoulder the burden of accommodating thousands of asylum seekers. On Thursday, the province withdrew its cooperation with Ottawa on the resettlement of asylum seekers, seemingly bringing an end to a previous agreement wherein Ontario committed to helping resettle some refugees.

"We're there for people in challenging situations and we know that we have to continue to demonstrate that our immigration system is strong and applies while staying true to our values", Mr. Trudeau said.

Since January, nearly 9,500 asylum seekers have been caught at the border.

After their first face-to-face meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that he didn't think Premier Doug Ford had a good understanding of Canada's asylum-seeker commitments.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets organizers and volunteers of the Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival in Toronto, Ont. on Friday July 6, 2018.

"We were very clear on the campaign trail that we wanted to draw from his expertise in the health-care field and that his job will be reaching out to others throughout the world and in particular across North America and through Europe to see how we can best advance our health-care practices", she said.

"Those college dormitories are for students who are returning in the fall", MacLeod said.

Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has said the money is meant to help address some of the immediate temporary housing needs in those provinces.

"We've been clear that the $1.4 billion Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund is only available to provinces and territories that are part of Canada's clean growth and climate action plan", Caroline Theriault, a spokesman for federal Energy and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, said in an e-mail Thursday.

Trudeau appeared to go even further Thursday, saying he discussed the issue with Ford during their first meeting at the Ontario legislature.

The move drew swift backlash from the provincial Opposition and prompted the federal government to pledge ongoing efforts to alleviate the burden on provinces, while urging Ontario to participate in the process.

"Unfortunately conservative politicians here and around the world are playing a very unsafe game with something that shouldn't be fodder for division", Trudeau said on CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

The province has already committed $3 million to the Red Cross and offered up the 800 spaces that these people now occupy in college dorms, she said. "We are going to be a compassionate government but there is a capacity issue around that". But we also need Ontario to be part of that discussion.

Specifics, including whether the city would be reimbursed for the $65-million it says the more than 3,000 refugees in its shelter system have cost it, were not in offer in their brief remarks. In Toronto, thousands of refugees are now in the shelter system.

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