A bus carrying 50 asylum seekers arrived in Halifax on Wednesday bringing the total number of refugees diverted to Nova Scotia from an unofficial Quebec border crossing at Roxham Road to 113.

Some of the refugees who entered Canada from the United States are from Turkey, Haiti, and Pakistan, said Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration Jill Balser. But those aren’t the only countries. 

Balser said the province began having discussions with Ottawa “early in February” about the possibility of welcoming and settling refugees. That was after Quebec Premier François Legault wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to close the back road between New York state and Montreal because the flow of illegal migrants was placing a severe strain on Quebec’s ability to provide for them.

Thousands of people are believed to have walked across the border in the past few years. The three other Atlantic provinces have also stepped up to offer homes for people displaced by wars and natural disasters.  

‘Continue to monitor situation’

All the Roxham Road refugees are staying in hotels, Balser told reporters following Thursday’s cabinet meeting. She said Nova Scotia “will continue to monitor the situation” and is prepared to house people at the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre in Cornwallis after federal funding runs out for hotel stays to a maximum of 60 days.

Balser said the conference centre, which includes 248 rooms as part of the former Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, was used to provide temporary housing for dozens of Ukrainian refugees after they came to Nova Scotia last year. 

A two story building with beige siding and white trim. Over the front entrance of the building is a white rounded roof with white pillars. A blue-and-green sign in front of the building says Welcome, Annapolis Basin Conference Centre, James Horsfall Memorial Hall. Decorative shrubs, flowers, and plants are along the pathway and under the windows of the building.
The Annapolis Basin Conference Centre. Credit: The Annapolis Basin Conference Centre.

“When we understood the pressure Quebec had felt, we said we would be willing to help out,” Balser said. “So, our conversations with the federal government were Nova Scotia is ready, willing, and able, and we have room to accept individuals who need a place to call home.” 

‘No cap’ on how many refugees Nova Scotia will accept

Balser indicated Ottawa is also working on some type of support package for Atlantic provinces, which are welcoming asylum seekers. The bus trip is covered by the federal government. 

Balser said at this point “no cap” has been placed on how many refugees Nova Scotia will accept but the future capacity could be limited based on to what extent partner agencies like the Halifax Refugee Clinic, the Immigrant Settlement Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), Feed Nova Scotia, and the YMCA are able to provide services to help newcomers with housing, language training, food, and jobs. 

Asylum seekers are eligible for all settlement services funded by the province. The Houston government has set a goal to grow Nova Scotia’s population to two million people by 2060.

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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  1. Canada has the highest third-world immigration in the world, Can. has 2 million out of work, Can. has millions on welfare, Can. has 5 million without doctors, Can. has 1.5 million visiting food banks, Can. has one of lowest min wages in the world, Can has a Quater million HOMELESS. These people are not refugees at all, they are breaking the law by crossing the border at Roxham Rd.they are coming to Canada for better social programs from the riches country in the world, according to the New York state police some of these people are criminals that commit crimes in the states and head to the Canadian border, New York City is paying their bus fair and sending them to Canada because they do not want pay for their social programs and now buses are bringing them in from Texas and the Mexican border and there is about 400 a day and Quebec takes 10, in the warmer weather they will be 7 or 8 hundred a day mostly going to Atlantic Canada, Alberta and the west refuse to take any and so they dump them in Atlantic Canada which is the poorest region of the country and the lowest wages and extremely high cost of living, Trudeau and the liberals caused this and the only thing they have to do is close Roxham Rd as they did during the covid crisis, Houston is weak and does not stand up to Trudeau like the west does and another million in Nova Scotia is insane. Nova Scotia is a tiny province only about 80 miles wide another million is just crazy, check this vid on Roxham Rd. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAwloYD8g2U&t=2s

  2. That’s great.
    It’s nice to be able to help good people in a tight spot and we need healthy, young folks who can work hard, prosper and pay good taxes.
    However assuming that are granted Landed Immigrant status …

    How will they be helped to learn English?
    How can their kids go to school here is they don’t already speak English?

    We have a shortage of accommodation – where will they live in the longer term?

    We have a shortage of family doctors – how ill they find theirs and who will cover their medical costs?

    I hope some serious consideration has been given to these things. They often seem like an afterthought.