New temporary shelter in Laval for asylum seekers
Another temporary shelter opened for asylum seekers Monday, this time in a former seniors’ residence in Laval.
Nearly 4,000 people crossed illegally into Quebec in the first two weeks of August in hope of seeking asylum.
The Manoir Chomedey, which closed down last year, will now temporarily house some of those people.
“The most important criteria is we're looking for places where people can sleep but do not need a lot of repairs, accommodations that are already there,” explained Francine Dupuis of the CIUSSS Centre-Ouest de Montreal.
With room for 200 people, about 150 arrived on Monday.
Other buildings such as the Olympic Stadium and the former royal Victoria hospital have also been converted into temporary shelters.
Dupuis said she hopes the new centre in Laval is the last for Quebec.
“Actually, I think that the Quebec health care system has given quite a lot. Our professionals are really spread thin and we cannot really accommodate more than that because we have other professional activities too,” she said.
In the first half of August, more than 3,800 people crossed illegally into Quebec from the U.S.--about 250 per day.
The Canadian and Quebec governments have been publicizing that there is no guarantee that asylum seekers will be allowed to stay in Canada, and that the visa program for Haitians set up in the wake of the 2010 earthquake has expired.
Since then the number of migrants coming into Canada has dropped to about 140 every day.
Additional border agents and immigration officers have been deployed to Quebec.
Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said the screening process remains as rigorous as ever.
“People are being treated professionally - with compassion - without compromising the safety and security of Canadians,” he said.
Public Security Minister Ralph Goodale, however, said the message needs to get out that crossing into Canada illegally doesn't automatically mean they'll be granted asylum here.
“There has been misinformation, or disinformation, circulated in the United States and elsewhere with respect to the border circumstances in Canada. It is very important that we dispel all of those myths,” he said.
Dupuis said she hopes the message get through.
“We have been managing so far day by day, but if the numbers continue to grow that would be a problem,” she said.