Irregular migrants on track to cost Canada almost $400 million, watchdog says

OTTAWA — Asylum-seekers who entered Canada irregularly last year will cost federal organizations $340 million — an amount projected to balloon to almost $400 million for migrants who arrive in 2019, the federal budget watchdog says.

report Thursday from the parliamentary budget officer calculates the average cost of each irregular migrant who arrived in Canada between April 2017 and March 2018 at $14,321.

The actual amounts vary depending on how long asylum seekers wait for their refugee claims to be finalized, budget officer Yves Giroux wrote in his report. Claimants accepted at their first hearings cost the federal government less; those who exhaust all legal avenues and are eventually removed from Canada cost more.

The PBO projects that costs per migrant will rise to $16,666 in the fiscal year ending March 2020 because of longer wait times for migrants waiting to complete the entire asylum-claim process, which will mean the federal government will be responsible for their health care for longer.

Giroux warned that $340 million or more could become an annual cost if Canada doesn’t see any decrease in the number of irregular asylum-seekers.

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