08/03/2017 12:54 EDT | Updated 08/03/2017 12:55 EDT

Asylum Claims In Quebec Tripled In Last 2 Weeks, Immigration Minister Says

Kathleen Weil says the province faces 150 requests a day.

Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil speaks in Montreal on March 7, 2016.
Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil speaks in Montreal on March 7, 2016.

MONTREAL — Quebec's immigration minister says the number of people seeking asylum in the province has tripled in the last two weeks.

While there were roughly 50 requests a day between July 1 and July 19, Kathleen Weil says the number has since surged to 150 a day.

Weil said Thursday the spike is putting a lot of pressure on accommodation resources but that ultimately the province will be able to handle the influx.

'Dignified and safe care'

"We have a strong, competent and experienced public and community network to deal with this type of situation and will offer dignified and safe care for these people during the processing of their asylum applications," she told a news conference.

Her comments came a day after asylum seekers began arriving at Montreal's Olympic Stadium where they will stay on a temporary basis.

Many of them are of Haitian descent.

In the United States, the Trump administration is considering ending a program that granted Haitians so-called "temporary protected status" following the massive earthquake that struck in 2010.

If the program isn't extended, as many as 60,000 Haitians could be sent back to their homeland.

Liberal MP Marc Miller, speaking on behalf of the federal government, said Canada's border service agencies have experience dealing with fluctuating volumes of arrivals.

"Our government is committed to offering protection for those fleeing war, persecution and natural disasters without compromising the safety and security of Canadians," he said at the news conference.

"We know that people will go to extraordinary lengths to seek a safe and peaceful life for themselves and their families."

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He said Ottawa will increase staff and resources to ensure the refugee claimants are processed in a timely manner.

Asylum claimants, he added, will also be "triaged" so those who do not intend on staying in Quebec can have their files treated in other cities.