Quebec Premier François Legault is holding to his government’s plans to increase economic immigration and prioritize skilled workers and entrepreneurs.
In a recent interview published in the French-language newspaper Le Devoir, Legault reiterated his government’s goal of admitting between 49,500 and 52,500 immigrants by 2022 and that, of this number, 65 per cent would be selected through Quebec’s economic-class immigration programs compared to 59 per cent this year.
Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government, which came to power in October 2018, temporarily reduced the province’s immigration target for 2019 to 40,000 — a decrease of roughly 20 per cent over 2018. The CAQ said this was necessary in order to ensure newcomers to the province were properly integrated into Quebec society.
The 2022 target of up to 52,500 newcomers would return Quebec’s immigration level to where it was four years prior.
Legault told Le Devoir that Quebec’s doors are wide open to immigration candidates with skills required by Quebec companies. When asked if he was referring to individuals such as engineers, he said “I don’t want to refuse one of these people.”
Quebec is facing an acute shortage of labour that is only expected to worsen in the coming years as the province’s population ages and more workers retire.
Legault said addressing the labour shortage has been his highest priority during his first eight months at the head of Quebec’s government.
Last week, Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said the province’s online Arrima platform is expected to accelerate the selection of immigrants based on the needs of the Quebec labour market.
Arrima manages the profiles of candidates for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP), which serves as the province’s main source of skilled foreign labour.
The minister stated that the revamped platform will soon allow employers to select QSWP candidates who match their labour needs. The system promises a six-month processing time for those invited to apply for Quebec Selection Certificate, rather than the current 36-month processing time.
With less than four months to go before Canada’s federal election, Legault is also asking the leaders of Canada’s national political parties to commit to approving the addition of a new condition for Canadian permanent residence for all immigrants settling in Quebec that will require the successful completion of a values test and a French test no later than three years after their arrival.
Quebec needs the go-ahead from Canada’s federal government to tie permanent residence to these conditions, which critics say may violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Both the governing Liberals and the federal Conservative Party of Canada have refused to endorse the conditions, citing the lack of clarity around what the details of the tests and what will happen to those who fail.
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