Quebec ideating new immigration program to accelerate francophone PR

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: November 21, 2022

Ahead of the release of its next immigration plan, the province of Quebec is considering a new immigration program that would accelerate the path to permanent residence (PR) for francophone immigrants already living in Quebec.

As part of this new immigration program, Quebec would target “graduates from francophone CEGEP colleges and universities as well as temporary workers who have [already] lived in the province” for some time.

Why Quebec’s immigration history is separated from the rest of Canada

Understanding Quebec’s potential new immigration pathway requires a base understanding of why Quebec can create its own immigration programs in the first place.

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The present reality of immigration to Quebec is a result of the Canada-Quebec accord, which has progressively changed to allow Quebec the freedom to choose all their own “skilled workers that wish to immigrate” there based on the province’s curated criteria and procedures.

After launching its own immigration ministry in 1968, Quebec has constantly sought immigration autonomy for its province, due largely to a desire to sustain the prominence of Canada’s second official language (French) throughout the region. Such became clear when Christine Frechette, Quebec’s immigration minister, voiced her displeasure that Canada has not yet made understanding the French language mandatory for immigration to the province.

In early November 2022, Frechette said "[Quebec] will use all the levers at our disposal to attain the maximum percentage of immigrants who are francophone; this is essential for the sustainability of French.”

Although they have not received their desired degree of immigration control from Canada’s federal government, there is currently nothing holding the province back from altering its selection criteria and bringing in more French-speaking economic immigrants.

Quebec has also taken steps — including the introduction of Bill 96 — to further preserve and strengthen the breadth of French in the province. Officially passed as law on June 1, 2022, Bill 96 means that immigrants “will only have six months to learn the language before they are required to receive most government services only in French.”

Due partly to the above-outlined desire to have full control over its own immigration and the presence of the Canada-Quebec Accord, the province is now unable to ask the Canadian federal government to prioritize French-speaking immigrants for PR in Canada.

Accordingly, Quebec’s concept for a new immigration program will have to work without the help of the Canadian government to meet the specific goals that it has outlined.

The two primary goals of Quebec’s potential new immigration program

As Quebec has always aimed to do, the province’s primary goal with its new immigration pathway is to “keep families, students, and workers in Quebec by creating a faster stream toward permanent residency.”

Also hoping to protect and grow the use of the French language throughout the province, Quebec will use this program as a means of advancing that objective by only fast-tracking francophone immigrants via this new pathway.

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