Area MPs want fed to cover refugee costs
Niagara Falls Review– Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Area MPs want fed to cover refugee costs
Niagara Falls Review– Tuesday, January 18, 2022

FORT ERIE – They have different political stripes, but Niagara Falls MP Rob Nicholson and Welland MP John Maloney have one common belief. Niagara taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for $227,000 to feed and house more than 200 refugees in December.

“I’m going to put pressure on them because it’s not right,” said Nicholson, a member of the official opposition. “It’s unfair to the local taxpayer. If this is a national matter then it should be a federal responsibility.”

Nearly 950 people entered Canada between Dec. 13 and 28 anxious to make asylum claims in Canada before the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country agreement came into effect Dec. 29.

Eager to give people a safe place to go once hotels and refugee shelters reached capacity, the region opened the doors to the former Sunset Haven nursing home in Welland, a gesture that cost $227,545.

Earlier this month, Nicholson fired off a letter to now former Citizenship and Immigration Minister Judy Sgro – who resigned her post Friday amid allegations she promised asylum to people who worked on her campaig – urging her to put up the money to pay for housing a total of 210 refugees as quickly as possible.

“I pointed out to her that immigration is a federal responsibility,” he said.

He admits he isn’t sure what the status is of that letter today, but promises he’ll talk to the newly appointed Citizenship and Immigration Minister Joe Volpe when Parliament resumes and remind him of the same thing.

“All we can do is keep up the pressure on them and bring up the issue again when Parliament resumes in two weeks,” he said.

Although part of a federal delegation touring the Falkland Islands this week, before leaving, Maloney wrote to Sgro and Prime Minister Paul Martin, asking the federal government to pick up the tab.

“I have always said that the federal government needs to cover its fair share of these costs and that’s what I’m asking for,” he said. “The taxpayers of Niagara should not have to carry the burden for this federal initiative.”

Maloney said he would like to see the money make its way through the proper channels as quickly as possible.

“As I stated previously, the immediate priority in December and early January was the safety and security of the claimants and money issues could be sorted out later,” he said. “It is now later, and (St. Catharines MP) Walt Lastewka and I continue to work on this file. It will not be settled today. It might not even be settled next monthy, but it will be settled.”

He also took a jab at detractors, saying he is working on securing the funding in his own quiet way.

“Just because I’m not making a public commotion doesn’t mean I’m not working on it,” he said. “Anyone who knows me can tell you that grandstanding is not my way of getting the job done.”