PREMIER RECOGNIZES LOCAL RESPONSE TO REFUGEE CRISIS IN MANITOBA
– – – Co-ordinated National Response Required: Premier
Premier Brian Pallister today expressed thanks on behalf of all Manitobans for the humanitarian response of the province’s citizens, municipal leaders, first responders and not-for-profit agencies to the recent influx of asylum seekers to Canada.
“Manitoba welcomes the largest number of refugees per capita of any province in Canada and recently we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of people crossing into Canada at the Manitoba border,” said Pallister. “Manitobans have responded with generosity and compassion, welcoming these newcomers with open arms and open hearts. I commend and thank each and every person who has contributed to ensuring the safety and well-being both of the individuals seeking refuge and of those living in border towns.”
Since Jan. 1, more than 200 individuals have crossed into Canada from the United States at the Manitoba border. The premier acknowledged the influx has already created significant pressures on front-line services and he expressed concern about the continued willingness of asylum seekers to make the dangerous journey despite significant risks to their safety, particularly on the heels of an extended blizzard and as the potential of a spring flood remains.
The Manitoba government has previously announced transitional funding supports, including temporary housing units, direct employment and labour market support, and funding for not-for-profit agencies like Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (Welcome Place) and Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations.
Manitoba also continues to offer health-care coverage, employment income assistance, legal aid assistance and child protection placement for legal minors crossing on their own without family.
The province is requesting federal support across a number of social service sectors including:
temporary and longer-term housing;
employment income assistance;
direct employment and labour market support;
legal aid assistance; and
child protection placement for legal minors crossing on their own without family.
In addition, Manitoba is asking the federal government to revisit the recently announced reductions and redeployment in funding support levels for English language assistance through post-secondary institutions in Manitoba.
“Our government has added transitional funding supports, but this is a national challenge and it requires an immediate and co-ordinated national response,” said Pallister. “Manitobans have always been a compassionate, tolerant and welcoming society, but we cannot address this situation alone. We are seeking additional support from the federal government and hope that our requests will be responded to with generosity.”