Canada News Agency

Canadian opposition parties call for emergency meeting for asylum seekers

OTTAWA, July 11 -- The Canadian opposition Conservative Party and New Democratic Party (NDP) Wednesday appealed to the Canadian Parliament to hold an emergency meeting to address the issues of increasing number of asylum seekers crossing the Canadian-U.S. border into Canada, reported by Xinhua.
 
In two statements separately issued Wednesday, the two opposition parties urged the Canadian House of Commons Citizenship and Immigration Committee to urgently meet to discuss the matter.
 
The NDP have called for the meeting "to discuss the lack of support" for the asylum seekers coming from the United States, while the Conservatives want to meet to review the government's response to what they consider a "border crisis."
 
"The time to act is now, before this situation gets any worse. We know that shelters are at capacity," said Conservative critic Michelle Rempel in the Conservative statement.
 
The Ontario government, which recently stated the province is "at capacity" and insisted that Ottawa foot the bill for any new asylum seekers that cross the border illegally.
 
"So far the Liberals have dragged their heels and failed to present a clear plan, meanwhile the Conservatives' only solution is to take a page from Trump and shut down the border to asylum seekers,"
 
NDP immigration and refugee critic Jenny Kwan said in the NDP statement.
 
Between the beginning of January and the end of May 2018, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Ministry of Immigration and Refugees and Citizenship have processed more than 20,000 asylum claimants.
 
There were 3,304 refugee claimants in the Toronto shelter system as of late June, accounting for close to half of its users.
 
Fifty-four bedroom dormitories at Centennial College in Toronto are being used as temporary homes for 344 asylum seekers, and hundreds more are being housed at another student residence.
 
The asylum seekers are expected to be out of the residences by Aug. 9, as the colleges prepare for the return of the student population.
 
Ontario Premier Doug Ford blamed the Canadian federal government's immigration policies for putting a strain on local and provincial resources, saying Trudeau's administration has encouraged people to cross into Canada illegally.
 
The Canadian federal government recently pledged to give the province of Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba 50 million Canadian dollars (some 38 billion U.S. dollars) to help offset some of the costs incurred due to the influx of asylum seekers illegally crossing the Canada-U.S. border.
 
The house is currently on a summer break. It has happened in the past to address pressing issues.
 
Four opposition Conservative and NDP members of the committee have formally requested the meeting, the house rules that a meeting must be held within five calendar days to consider the request.
 
Since the house is not currently in session, this would be considered a "special meeting." If the committee-which the Liberals hold the majority on-agrees to study the matter at that meeting, there is not a specific timeframe in which that has to happen.