CAQ wins second term in Quebec with a strong majority
The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) has secured its second consecutive win under the leadership of Francois Legault.
The CAQ was named the winning party only eleven minutes after polls closed. The party made major gains this election, increasing the number of seats it holds in Quebec's National Assembly from 76 to 90. It is the strongest majority government Quebec has had since a Liberal win in 1989. Parties in Quebec require only 63 seats to ensure a majority win.
The CAQ was founded in 2011 and styles itself as the ideal party to build the province's economy, improve the health-care system and protect the prominence of the French language in Quebec.
Additionally, immigration has been a widely discussed topic this election as a principal component of reducing Quebec’s current labour shortage. Like the rest of Canada, Quebec’s population is aging, and the birth rate is low, leading to large gaps in the provincial workforce.
Immigration reforms during last term
Immigration is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments. However, Quebec is the only province in Canada that has complete control over the selection of economic immigrants. Over the past four years, the CAQ has prioritized immigrants from French-speaking countries in order to maintain Quebec's unique cultural status within Canada as the only francophone province.
Each year Quebec releases its own Immigration Levels Plan that will set the target for the number of new immigrants that province is willing to invite. The 2022 plan calls for between 49,500 and 52,200 immigrants across all categories.
With a maximum target of 33,900, the economic category represents the largest proportion of newcomers. In this category, the province expects to welcome up to 28,800 skilled workers and up to 4,300 business immigrants, which would include investors, entrepreneurs, and the self-employed.
Changing immigration targets
Additionally, as a temporary measure to make up for not reaching 2020 targets, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the province committed to admitting a further 18,000 immigrant this year. This means that by the end of 2022, Quebec could welcome more than 70,000 newcomers.
This is a dramatic change from CAQ’s 2019 immigration levels plan in which targets were reduced by 20% to improve the selection and francization of newcomers to Quebec.
Since CAQ lowered admission targets, the Quebec government has focused on the integration and francization of all new permanent residents by making significant investments in this area. For example, The budget for 2022-2023 cites investments of $290 million to increase support for immigrants to learn French, attract immigrants to regions outside Montreal, and expedite the processing of immigration applications.
Immigration reforms to come
Legault has committed to allowing only 50,000 newcomers into Quebec a year throughout his term. He says this is the largest number of immigrants Quebec can accommodate as it is difficult to integrate newcomers into Quebec society, particularly those who need to learn French. One of the main pillars of the CAQ party is to protect the French language in Quebec.
The CAQ is also advocating for control over the selection of family class immigrants, who make up 11,000 of the immigrants Quebec plans to admit. Currently, the federal government decides who can immigrate as a family class immigrant and has refused to grant this power to Quebec.
Earlier this year, the CAQ introduced Bill-96, a law that limits the use of English in courts and public services in Quebec. The bill has faced criticism due to a clause stating that newcomers to Quebec are only able to access public services, such as hospitals, in English for six months after they arrive in the province.
The bill is currently being debated in the courts.
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