Tell us: What do you think of Canada's policy for asylum seekers?

A group of asylum seekers arrive at the temporary housing facilities at the border crossing in St. Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

With the number of asylum seekers coming to Canada continuing to rise, a recent study shows that the majority Canadians do not have confidence in the federal government’s existing structure for dealing with the influx.

A study by DART Insight and Communications found that 70 per cent of respondents do not believe the Canadian government has a clear plan to deal with the thousands of individuals using irregular border crossings to seek asylum in the country. Additionally, 58 per cent do not believe the government has a handle on the migration situation as a whole.Canada received 47,800 asylum claims last year, with an estimated 5,000 individuals seeking asylum through “unofficial entry points,” according to DART.

Due to the Safe Third Country Agreement, claimants at the Canada-U.S. border must undergo due process, which requires them to apply for refugee status and not simply be turned away at the crossing.

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently defended his government’s policy on asylum seekers, establishing that Canada has a thorough process to asses individuals that require assistance.

“Canada has always had a separate procedure to asses refugees and to determine whether or not they are indeed fleeing violence, persecution and terror, or else they are simply economic migrants at which point, they would get sent home once their files are processed,” Trudeau told reporters on a visit to Queen’s Park to meet with Ontario premier Doug Ford.

Ford said his province needs “100 per cent” of costs associated with handling these newcomers to the province to be covered by the federal government.

“This mess was 100 per cent the result of the federal government, and the federal government should foot 100 per cent of the bills,” Ford said in a statement.

According to the DART survey, 57 per cent of respondents do not believe the Canadian government is providing the correct amount of resources for communities to deal with the increasing number of asylum seekers. That being said, the vast majority, 84 per cent, believe the government is doing their part to ensure asylum seekers are treated humanely.

To date, the federal government has allocated $50 million to Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba to offset the costs of handling the influx of asylum seekers. As costs continues to rise, provinces are asking the federal government for additional funding. Toronto, Ont. has already spent $64 million and Quebec’s current costs are around $146 million.

Toronto in particular is feeling strained with the influx of thousands of asylum seekers. Mayor John Tory has asked both and federal and provincial governments for financial help to accommodate the number of people seeking shelter in the city.

We just don’t have the resources to do it alone,” Tory said.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson is also asking the federal government to repay the city for providing emergency shelter to asylum seekers, which resulted in a $5.7-million deficit in the city’s budget.

How do you feel about the influx of asylum seekers coming to the country through irregular crossings at the Canada-U.S. border? Vote in the poll above and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The DART Insight survey was conducted with 5,357 randomly selected Canadian adults who are members of the Maru/Blue Online panel and has a +/ – 1.5 per cent margin of error.