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Immigration levels to Quebec could reach 52,500 in 2022 under new proposals introduced by the province’s government on June 7.
This would translate to an increase of 10,500 newcomers to Quebec from this year’s maximum of 42,000 and mark an approximate return to the immigration level that was in place before the election of the province’s new Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government in October 2018.
The proposals introduced Friday will form the basis of public hearings on immigration that begin August 12.
Between 2015 and 2018, Quebec’s immigration levels were 53,084, 52,388 et 51,118, respectively.
The CAQ introduced a temporary reduction to its immigration levels late last year as part of an election promise to address concerns that newcomers are not integrating into the majority French-speaking province.
The proposals published Friday by the province’s Immigration Ministry (MIDI) said the reduction was necessary in order to revamp the province’s integration programs and services.
The foundations for these reforms are now in place, MIDI said, but the actual policies and programs for enacting them and achieving their goals are not.
“For this reason, we envision a gradual increase in the order of 3,000 to 4,000 new admissions per year [between 2020 and 2022] in order to allow both state and civil society actors to provide all immigrants to the province with the tools they need to successfully integrate into Quebec society.”
The government is aiming to achieve an immigration level of between 49,500 and 52,500 by 2022.
Of this number, 65 per cent would be selected through Quebec’s economic-class immigration programs compared to 59 per cent this year.
Other proposals outlined in the new document include:
- Favouring foreign workers and foreign nationals with a degree in Québec who meet the province’s labour market needs and who are already living in Quebec as temporary residents;
- Favouring skilled applicants with in-demand training or a validated job offer who match short-term labour market needs in Quebec;
- Expediting the arrival of economic-class immigrants in order to respond more quickly to Quebec’s labour needs;
- Supporting efforts by employers in all regions of Quebec to recruit temporary foreign workers by reducing delays before their arrival and to facilitate procedures to meet the needs of the workforce. short-term work;
- Promoting the selection of immigrants who know Quebec’s democratic values and the values enshrined in Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms;
- Expanding the number of adult immigrants who speak French by expanding access to government-run French language training;
- Encouraging the permanent immigration of young people to counter the province’s ageing and declining population.
The CAQ’s immigration reforms have been criticized as unfair and even antithetical to the province’s labour needs, which are among the most acute in Canada.
One study published in March said there was no evidence to support the CAQ’s view that reducing immigration will improve integration and called on the Quebec government to return the province’s immigration levels to 50,000.
A CAQ move to dismiss a backlog of more than 18,000 pending applications to the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) under proposed legislation known as Bill 9 was blocked by a court order in February.
Quebec’s Immigration Minister, Simon-Jolin Barrette, said the applications were submitted when the QSWP operated on a first-come, first-served basis, which he said was not in touch with Quebec’s workforce needs.
Quebec switched the QSWP to an Expression of Interest system in August 2018, which Jolin-Barrette said is a better fit for the government’s efforts to tailor the selection of skilled workers to actual labour needs in the province.