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B.C. Premier Eby slams Ottawa's immigration offer to Quebec

Eby frustrated after Ottawa gives Quebec $750M to deal with surge of immigration
Premier David Eby Monday called on Ottawa to match support for Quebec when it comes to supporting the needs of immigrants in B.C. (Black Press Media files)

Premier David Eby is calling on Premier Justin Trudeau to offer B.C. the same deal as Quebec when it comes to supporting new arrivals.

"I look forward to the call from the Prime Minister to share with us the details of their immigration funding for British Columbia on a per-capita basis, the exact same as Quebec got today," Eby said Monday as western premiers and territorial leaders wrapped meetings in Whitehorse.

Visibly frustrated, Eby issued his demand after learning of Ottawa's offer of $750 million dollars over five years to help Quebec deal with its surge of immigrants straining public services and housing in that province. 

"That announcement today with Quebec, frankly, is the straw that broke this camel's back," Eby said. 

Quebec had been lobbying Ottawa for additional support of up to $1.4 billion to help accommodate some 560,000 temporary immigrants, with a nearly a third of them said to be asylum seekers. At one stage, Quebec even demanded Ottawa grant the province full control over immigration in face of social strains and threats to the French language. 

Eby said Ottawa has offered B.C. nothing, even as 10,000 people come to B.C. every 37 days, creating similar strains on housing and services. Refugees, Eby said, have to sleep homeless shelters. International students and temporary workers are struggling to find adequate housing, he added. 

"So to see a single province agreement with Quebec is an underlining of a sense of frustration that I heard around the table," Eby said. "(I) won't put this on anyone else, but I'll say for British Columbia, how frustrated we are to see the money being showered down on Quebec and Ontario and us scrabbling around for what's left." 

Monday's demand was hardly the first occasion, during which Eby had questioned Ottawa's commitment toward western Canada. He has in the past complained about the initial lack of support for housing, infrastructure and energy initiatives. Eby has in the past also been critical on other issues such as Ottawa's pace on the bail reform. 

Eby found a sympathetic ear in Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. 

"It does seem to me that they need to give us the tools, if they want us to be able to settle newcomers," she said.

Ottawa also benefits from Alberta's high-paying jobs in the form of income taxes, she added.

"So we want to make sure that we are properly supporting the people coming to our province and our economy, so that we can also make that the rest of the country is supported as well. But it's a two-way street."

Also attending the meeting were Saskatchewan's Premier Scott Moe, Manitoba's Premier Wab Kinew, NWT's Premier R.J. Simpson, Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai and Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok.

Topics of discussion included housing, infrastructure and Arctic sovereignty. 

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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