Quebec minister says reform needed after people line up for days to sponsor refugees


Quebec's immigration minister has acknowledged the province's system to sponsor refugees needs reform after hundreds of people camped out in his department's Montreal offices over the weekend, hoping to claim one of the few available applications.

The government said it would only accept 750 privately-sponsored refugee applications for the entire province.

Most were reserved for organizations seeking to bring an asylum seeker to Quebec, while just 100 applications were reserved for groups of two to five people hoping to sponsor a refugee.

The Immigration Department held to a first-come, first-served policy, and it only accepted applications by courier, one at a time.

As a consequence, people began lining up Friday inside the department's Montreal offices, waiting for the bureaus to open Monday morning at 8:30 a.m.

Aspiring sponsors were forced to pay hundreds of dollars to have a courier make the application for them once the offices opened, and news reports over the weekend indicated people were trying to bribe others to get a better place in line.