If you’re looking at establishing a new business in Canada, perhaps you should set up a fast food chain where illegal immigrants cross into our country in St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que.
You might even be able to get the federal government to fund it all.
In a move that is nothing short of absurd, the Canadian government is planning on providing a supply of meals and snacks for people who illegally cross the border and claim asylum. That’s on top of the heated trailers the government has been providing since last November to take care of the asylum seekers while they await processing of their claims.
The contract for meals and snacks, to be awarded in the coming weeks, is for a minimum of 12 months, and will ensure that asylum seekers who are detained after walking illegally across the border are given food to eat and water or juice to drink as they wait to be processed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
Depending on how busy things get at the crossing, the wait can sometimes exceed 24 hours. Last year, 18,836 people were intercepted by the RCMP in the small Quebec town.
Provided on an as-needed basis, the food will be delivered in recyclable containers and will be handed out by the CBSA officers on site, according to government documents. It must include “varied” juices, milk, egg and chicken sandwiches for lunch, chicken and vegetable sandwiches for dinner, plus granola bars as snack items.
There is no precise dollar amount attached to the contract, as it’s unclear how much food will actually be needed.
What’s really sad is that while the government rolls out the red carpet to illegal border crossers, there are 850,000 Canadians who are forced to turn to food banks to avoid hunger.
Thirteen percent of Canadians live in a state of food insecurity, which means they do not have reliable access to adequate amounts of safe, good-quality, nutritious food. The root cause of hunger in Canada is low income, which consistently affects more than four million Canadians at any given time.
But while 850,000 Canadians have to turn to food banks for help, an illegal immigrant just has to walk across the border into the welcoming arms of our national police force to get food, water and an application that could lead to a lifetime of social assistance payments, courtesy of our federal and provincial governments.
And while they wait, the illegal crossers enjoy free food courtesy of our government. The government hasn’t nailed down the cost of its generosity, but spending estimates tabled in the House of Commons Monday also revealed that the immigration department is being granted an extra $10.4 million “to address irregular migration at the Canada-U.S. border and the resulting interim health program pressures.”
A spokesperson for the office of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Monday that Canada will continue “managing the influx of irregular border crossers at Lacolle in an orderly, professional way.”
“We are committed to protecting the safety of the public and keeping our borders secure,” wrote Scott Bardsley. “At the same time, people seeking asylum must be treated fairly and afforded due process.”
At the height of activity last summer, St-Bernard-de-Lacolle was the site of hundreds of irregular crossings per day. In August alone, over 5,500 people crossed on foot, were intercepted there by the RCMP and then processed.
In December 2017, the last month for which data is available, 1,916 people crossed irregularly into Canada at St-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
By crossing between legal border checkpoints, they avoided being sent back to the United States under the Safe Third Country Agreement and were instead permitted to try to make an asylum claim here.
But what about Canadians? Are we being treated fairly? We’re watching thousands of people breach our borders and instead of repelling them, our national police force is welcoming them. And instead of making the illegals look after themselves, our government is feeding them….with our money of course.
Jeff Wilkinson is a Senior Politics Reporter at Debate Report covering provincial and national politics, . Before joining Debate Report, Jeff worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Jeff has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.