Time for Trudeau to pay piper on border chaos

Taxis unload passengers, who travelled from a bus station in Plattsburgh, N.Y., at an unofficial border station across from Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec on Roxham Road in Champlain, N.Y., Aug. 8, 2017.Charles Krupa / AP Photo

Justin Trudeau has a new headache, one with a dollar sign at the front and a lot of zeros at the end.

Ontario and Quebec are demanding half a billion dollars from the Trudeau government to cover their costs for his bungled border policies and the illegal crossers still streaming into Canada.

So far 17,120 people have been intercepted by the RCMP as they crossed illegally into Canada this year. That’s up from 16,992 in the same January to October time frame last year.

Now Quebec has updated its demands for compensation.

The province is telling the feds they have spent $300 million dealing with the problem created by Trudeau’s #WelcometoCanada tweet. That is on top of Ontario’s $200 million claim.

In a joint statement issued by Premiers Doug Ford and Francois Legault at the end of the First Ministers Meeting in Montreal the premiers said they are “calling on the federal government to reimburse their provinces for the cost of supporting illegal migrants coming from the U.S.”

While the federal government has spent hundreds of millions processing the 38,000 people that have crossed illegally so far, the provinces have been left holding the bag for social services spending.

“The federal government made a deliberate decision to encourage illegal border crossers to enter Canada, while leaving the provinces to pick up the bill,” Ford said in a statement. “It is time that the federal government took full responsibility for its own failed policies and paid its fair share.”

Provincial, and municipal governments have seen increased welfare, housing and education costs since the deluge of illegal crossings began in early 2017.

At one point so many people were arriving that Montreal’s Olympic Stadium was turned into a shelter. As more illegal crossers have opted to move to Toronto, that city’s shelter system has been put under strain.

The most recent numbers released showed just shy of 40% of Toronto’s shelter spaces were taken up with people seeking asylum. With shelter space so tight the city even considered buying a hotel near the airport that had gone into receivership to make sure the needed rooms weren’t snapped up by a developer.

Toronto alone said they had spent $76 million dealing with the situation.

So far the federal government has offered compensation of $50 million spread across three provinces. Quebec is to receive $36 million for dealing with the bulk of the early arrivals, Ontario $11 million and Manitoba $3 million.

Quebec says that is simply not enough.