Tories, NDP call for emergency meeting on asylum seekers

Parliament Hill’s two main opposition parties are requesting that an emergency committee meeting be held during the summer break to discuss the issue of asylum seekers.

The Conservatives and the NDP both announced on Wednesday morning that they are asking for the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to reconvene “to review the adequacy of the Trudeau government’s response to the increased number of asylum seekers crossing into Canada.”

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The number of asylum seekers crossing the border between legal checkpoints actually fell 27 per cent between April and May, the last two months for which numbers are publicly available.

The numbers for June have not yet been released.

READ MORE: Feds have spent over $5.7M on border shelter, security, humanitarian aid

Under parliamentary rules, Wednesday’s joint request triggered an initial committee gathering set for this coming Monday.

The governing Liberals hold a majority of the committee seats, however, and it’s unclear if they will agree to the joint Conservative-NDP request to study the adequacy of the government’s asylum plan.

While the number of people crossing into Canada may be dropping, the total number of arrivals so far in 2018 (now likely over 10,000) has put a strain on both municipal and provincial resources in Ontario and Quebec.

Housing has been a particular issue, with local shelters reaching capacity. Hundreds of people currently staying in college dormitories will be forced out in early August as schools prepare for students to return.

“The time to act is now, before this situation gets any worse,” said Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel in the Tory statement.

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“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,” said NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan in her party’s own statement.

“It’s clear to everyone that under the Trump administration, the United States is no longer a safe country for asylum seekers. But we need real supports for asylum seekers and putting them in student dorms and homeless shelters is not a plan.”

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has argued that his government has the situation under control, with funding being provided to help the provinces. He has also stated repeatedly that Canada cannot ignore its international obligations when it comes to asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s new PC government recently announced that it would insist the federal government cover the ongoing costs associated with the asylum seekers.

— With a file from the Canadian Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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