Source: X

If British Columbia and other Western provinces want a slice of the federal immigration funding pie, they need to take in even more asylum seekers. 

That was the message from Immigration Minister Marc Miller after complaints from Western premiers, including B.C. Premier David Eby, about Ottawa committing $750 million for Quebec’s immigration pressures.

Miller says B.C. largely accepts immigrants on economic programs that contribute to the province’s economy. 

“When you talk about volumes, it’s important to disaggregate it because not all of them are necessarily comparable. Let’s not confuse apples and oranges,” Miller said. 

“We need provinces like British Columbia to step up when it comes to actually apportioning asylum seekers.”

Speaking from the Yukon on Monday afternoon, Eby said he sensed frustration “around the table” when Ottawa’s latest deal with Quebec was discussed. 

He said funding for Quebec’s surge of migrants is coming at the expense of Western Canada, which is also feeling pressure from the influx of newcomers. 

“I won’t put this on anyone else, but I’ll say for British Columbia, how frustrated we are, to see the money being showered down on Quebec and Ontario,” Eby said.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith was the only other premier to speak on the issue at the Western Premiers Conference. She said 20% of newcomers to Canada are choosing Alberta, which isn’t being given more monetary support from Ottawa. 

“We also are host to 70,000 of the newcomers from Ukraine, the Ukrainian evacuees, and we have not seen the same kind of support for those new arrivals in the same way that Premier Eby has talked about,” she said. 

Eby said the Western provinces are “scrabbling around for what’s leftover.”

“It’s not acceptable, it is not okay,” he said. 

Miller accused Eby of being confused about the facts surrounding Quebec’s funding.  He said the dollars will address the strain caused by asylum seekers, of which Quebec takes more than half when compared with the rest of the country. 

“I think perhaps there is some confusion on the premier’s behalf as to what this money was for,” Miller told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday. 

“The suggestion was it was for temporary residents. That is absolutely not the case.”

In Canada, “temporary immigration” streams include international students, temporary residents, visitor visas, and work permits.

B.C. received 1.8% of asylum seekers entering through official border crossings and just 4.2% of migrants who entered Canada through unofficial border crossings.

Eby’s office did not respond to a request for comment from True North.