Ottawa starting to transfer 'small number' of asylum seekers to Ontario from Quebec

The federal government is starting to relocate asylum seekers who have crossed irregularly into Quebec from the United States, following a rise in the number of would-be refugees at the border.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says that as of June 30, officials have started to transfer a "small number" of asylum seekers to Ottawa and Niagara Falls to help reduce the pressure on Quebec. The department didn't give details.

More than 13,250 refugee claimants were intercepted outside official points of entry in Quebec by border agents between January and May, mostly at Roxham Road -- a rural road leading from the U.S. into the province.

That is more than double the number of people who crossed irregularly into Quebec during the same period in 2019, before the entry points into Canada were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Roxham Road was reopened to would-be refugees in November 2021.

Premier Francois Legault has asked the federal government to shut down Roxham Road because of the pressure the rise in asylum seekers is putting on Quebec's ability to care for the newcomers.

The Canada Border Services Agency says it has increased its capacity to temporarily house asylum seekers at the Roxham Road crossing, to 477 people from 297.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2022. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship