Ontario Premier Doug Ford Meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the First Time and Refuses to Cooperate on Immigration Situation
In his first official meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario’s new premier, Doug Ford, has clashed with the federal government’s approach to handling an influx of asylum seekers into the province. Premier Ford is refusing to work with the federal government or cooperate on managing the influx of asylum seekers into Ontario.
Premier Ford has publicly stated that the federal government’s immigration policies are putting a strain on Ontario’s resources and that Trudeau’s administration is encouraging immigrants to enter Canada illegally.
Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted in 2017 that immigrants are welcome in Canada in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”
Ford’s office released a statement blaming the federal government for creating a housing and services crisis in Ontario. “This mess was 100 per cent the result of the federal government, and the federal government should foot 100 per cent of the bills,” the statement said.
Federal Government’s Response
After their meeting, Trudeau said that he didn’t think Ford was aware of Canada’s international obligations with regards to accepting refugees and asylum seekers and he spent time explaining the system to the premier.
The federal government has pledged $50 million to Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba to help offset the costs of the influx of refugees coming across the Canadian border from the U.S. The provinces have asked for more support. The federal government has promised $11 million to Ontario.
Both the federal government and refugee lawyers agree that greater clarity and collaboration between all levels of government regarding the influx of asylum seekers in Ontario is needed. However, Ford seems to be refusing to work with the federal government to handle the situation.
Toronto Mayor Tory Sounding Alarm
Meanwhile, Toronto Mayor John Tory has been seeking more funding and help from the federal government. Tory has also been seeking help from the province to deal with the the housing and shelter shortage for refugees coming into the city.
Tory has said the city alone needs $64 million to deal with the influx of asylum seekers. According to a city report, the number of refugees and asylum seekers using the city’s shelters went up from 459 in 2016 to 3,209 in 2018.
Tory has been raising these concerns for weeks about the lack of shelter space and funding to assist asylum seekers flooding into Toronto from the U.S. He has appealed to Ford and to the federal government for help, but with Ford playing politics and refusing to work with Ottawa on the issue, the various levels of government remain at odds.