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Taxpayers have paid over $115 million to accommodate asylum seekers in hotels throughout Niagara Falls last year. 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada disclosed the figure following a query raised by Niagara Falls Conservative MP Tony Baldinelli in the House of Commons last month.

From Feb. 2023 to Feb. 2024, nearly 5,000 individuals seeking asylum were accommodated in the tourist city. 

The majority of these asylum seekers originated from Nigeria, Venezuela, Kenya, Turkey, and Colombia.

Each refugee claimant was provided housing for 113 days, with the daily expenditure per individual amounting to $208. 

This led to an approximate annual cost of $115 million.

The reported expenses encompassed charges for meals, lodging, services, and security measures. 

However, the immigration department has indicated that these figures are a conservative estimate of the total costs as there was a lack of comprehensive monitoring of such expenses early in 2023. 

Additionally, expenses accrued since Jan. 1, 2024, are yet to be fully accounted for due to pending invoices.

A previous report by Niagara Region said that the sudden surge in asylum seekers was putting significant strain on the local social support systems, which were already under pressure.

The immigration department has clarified that the provision of hotel accommodations for asylum claimants is a temporary measure, but the government has not announced an end date to the program. 

Conservative immigration critic Tom Kmiec told True North that these figures reinforce that Canada’s “immigration and refugee systems are broken” under Justin Trudeau.

“Our system was once the envy of the world but is now filled with fraud, chaos, backlogs, and delays, disadvantaging genuine immigrants,” Kmiec said. “On top of that, Trudeau’s housing crisis has forced refugees to live under bridges or in hotels indefinitely, all at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars at the expense of the taxpayer.”

Kmiec said Conservatives would stop “fraud and abuse” in the system and ensure that immigration is tied to availability of healthcare, housing, and jobs.

The Niagara Falls hotel arrangement was initially implemented in July 2022 to alleviate service pressures in Quebec, with migrants arriving there redirected to Niagara Falls. 

However, this has led to increased scrutiny over federal immigration policies as both Ontario and Quebec have cited these housing provisions as contributing factors to their ongoing housing crises.