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The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a significant drop in the already low number of immigrant admissions to Quebec and the province is now actively seeking ways to reverse the situation.
Quebec immigration minister Nadine Girault said Thursday at a virtual press conference that there is a shortfall of nearly 17,000 or 18,000 people, and the province plans to fill that gap.
The province is exploring “different scenarios,” she said.
Girault’s comments come days after the province’s labour minister, Jean Boulet, said at a meeting with the business community that immigration is “a necessity” and that there is a need to accelerate the flow of immigrant workers to the province. Boulet also said his government will be reviewing some immigration regulations in order to help address the current labour shortage.
Boulet’s remarks were specifically related to temporary immigration, which is a major focus of the current government in Quebec.
The minister also said he has agreements in principle to raise the current 10 per cent foreign worker threshold for companies to 20 per cent and plans to expand and streamline processes for recruiting temporary foreign workers, according to Radio-Canada.
Another report published last week by Radio-Canada suggests that Quebec’s previously announced plan to gradually increase immigration thresholds is being re-evaluated and that the government will unveil new numbers by the end of the year. Quebec is reportedly currently engaged in talks with the federal government regarding temporary foreign worker and permanent immigration programs.
Quebec plays an active role in the development of immigration policy on its territory and in the selection of immigrants under the Canada-Quebec Accord. This agreement allows the Quebec government to select its own immigrants in the economic category, while the federal authorities are in charge of the final admission and its procedures, including health and security checks.
Quebec’s current government lowered the immigration quotas when it came to power three years ago. The rationale behind this decision was that accepting fewer immigrants would allow for better integration of those who arrived.
However, many people, particularly the province’s business community, criticized this approach in the context of the current labour shortage, and are now also saying it will greatly slow down the province’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
In 2020, Quebec admitted just over 25,000 permanent residents, about half of the previous year’s total admissions. This decrease is largely due to travel restrictions imposed by the federal government which have made immigration to the country more difficult.
In late October 2020, Quebec had announced its immigration targets for 2021. The province’s goal for the coming year is to welcome between 43,000 and 44,500 immigrants. The majority of new admissions to Quebec, 62 per cent, are expected to come from the province’s economic immigration programs.
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