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.�