Canada Immigration News: The choice of political party that will form the next government in Quebec after the close of elections on October 3 could have profound implications for future immigration to La Belle Province.
Prime Minister François Legault made himself understood. He is fiercely opposed to increasing immigration to Quebec to 58,000 new permanent residents per year.
“With 50,000 immigrants a year, we are already one of the few places in the world to receive proportionally as many immigrants,” the prime minister reportedly said in French at the start of June.
Read More Canada Immigration News
Arrima Québec draw: the province invites 58 candidates for Canadian immigration
Quebec invites 351 candidates for Canadian immigration to a new expression of interest draw
More financial assistance for Quebec immigrants taking French courses
Early polls have given Legault’s ruling Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) a wide lead, putting it on track not just to win this election, but to do so with an even bigger majority than it did in 2018. .
Polling aggregator Qc125.com (Canada338) estimated on the day the writ was filed that the CAQ would win between 82 and 106 seats and the Liberal Party of Quebec only between 10 and 24.
It was estimated then that Quebec solidaire would obtain only between five and 14 seats, the Parti Québécois six or less and the Conservative Party of Quebec four or less.
Unless the Liberals pull off a major U-turn during the campaign, immigration policy in Quebec will likely continue to be set by the CAQ.
Some immigrants will get their driver’s license faster in Prince Edward Island
Canada set to open express entry to truckers
Quebec invites 58 candidates for Canadian immigration with job offers in the regions
But the Liberals are far more optimistic on immigration than the ruling party.
In mid-May, provincial Liberal leader Dominique Anglade called for a massive increase in immigration to Quebec, up to 70,000 new permanent residents a year.
“This year, Quebec will welcome as many as a whole,” she reportedly said in French. “It is the policy of François Legault, 70,000 people. If we have the capacity to take in 70,000 immigrants, I think we should base ourselves on that figure and we are discussing it in all the regions of Quebec.
Quebec wants to welcome up to 71,275 new permanent residents this year alone
In May, Quebec announced it would welcome up to 71,275 new permanent residents this year, up more than 41.7% from 50,285 last year, in a bid to compensate immigrants who were unable to come to the province at the height of the crisis. pandemic.
Provincial Immigration Minister Jean Boulet, however, played down the increase in immigration this year during an interview with the French-language television network Radio-Canada earlier this year.
He was then – and still is – under pressure from corporations and industry groups to dramatically increase Quebec’s immigration targets, but Boulet explained this year’s immigration increase as nothing more than the province catching up. its losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The limit on the number of authorized immigrants, based on the multi-year plan, limits new permanent residents in Quebec to 52,500 per year,” Boulet said in French.
In 2020, however, Quebec was unable to welcome the 44,000 new permanent residents it was then authorized under this multi-year plan. Instead, only 25,225 new permanent residents came to Quebec that year.
The 18,775 permanent resident shortfalls between those expected under the 2020 immigration target and those who actually arrived that year are now added to Quebec’s allocation for that year.
Business groups welcome temporary increase in immigration to Quebec this year
This pushes immigration to Quebec to an all-time high, as the previous shortfall is now added to the 52,500 allocations for this year under the multi-year plan.
This level of immigration to Quebec – if it materializes – will mean 20,990 more new permanent residents in the province this year than in 2021.
The increase in immigration to Quebec comes as the province also expects an increase in the number of temporary foreign workers from the roughly 30,000 who worked in the province last year.
“With the simplified applications and the addition of several professions, trades that will benefit from accelerated processing for temporary immigration, there will certainly be more (temporary foreign workers in Quebec) to respond to the requests of Quebec companies”, Boulet said.
This additional immigration is music to the ears of the province’s business community.
Michel Leblanc, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, blames the region’s acute labor shortage for the upward pressure on wages, unfulfilled contracts and lower quality of service from Greater Montreal businesses. Montreal.
“The question of the availability of workers is the No. 1 question cited by companies when asked about the risks or obstacles to their growth and even the risks to the eventual survival of the company,” the president reportedly said. of the chamber of commerce. the Canadian Press earlier this month.
The province’s business groups want Quebec to welcome at least 64,000 new permanent residents a year, or 21.9% more than its current allocation set by Ottawa.
Businesses and industry groups want up to 90,000 new permanent residents each year
Other business organizations want immigration levels to be even higher. The reported consensus among industry groups is that Quebec welcomes 80,000 immigrants each year.
Véronique Proulx, president of the manufacturing industry and exporter association of Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Québec (MEQ), is said to have called for the province to welcome up to 90,000 immigrants a year.
“We know that labor shortages cannot be solved in the blink of an eye and it will take a series of strategies working in tandem to reduce the impact of the lack of workers,” Proulx said in a statement. in French.
Ahead of the electoral campaign for the provincial election, the MEQ and three other business associations, the Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ), the employers’ association of the Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ), the association of chambers of Commerce of the Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce (FCCQ) and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), an association of independent businesses, lobbied provincial political parties to take a series of measures to address labor shortages.
Immigration was one of them.
“With a provincial election in Quebec, it is important for us to inform the political parties of the need to put in place solid strategies to grow the labor pool and maintain Quebec’s competitive advantage,” said Mr. Proulx.
Decrease in the percentage of Quebec households speaking French at home
Boosting immigration is a tough sell to Quebecers, however, following a Statistics Canada report that shows the use of French at home is declining as a percentage of the population due to immigration to Quebec despite the actual number of French speakers that increases in this province from 2016 to 2021.
“From 2016 to 2021, the number of Canadians who spoke mainly French at home increased in Quebec, British Columbia and the Yukon, but decreased in the other provinces and territories,” reports Statistics Canada.
“The proportion of Canadians who spoke mainly French at home decreased in all provinces and territories except the Yukon.
This has stoked fears among Quebeckers that their traditional Quebec culture is in jeopardy – and it has led most political parties in the province to avoid any discussion of increased immigration during this election.
In the provincial legislature earlier this year, the Parti Québécois (PQ) opposed any sort of massive increase in immigration.
The leader of the PQ, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, called instead for a debate on immigration “based on science and not on ideology or false premises”.
“Just asking questions about increasing immigration quotas raises implications about the intolerance of those raising them, which creates an atmosphere that is not serene,” he reportedly said.
The leader of the PQ tried to curb immigration to Quebec
Quebec society must make its own decisions on immigration and answer for itself whether or not more immigration will in fact create more wealth and increase GDP per capita, he said.
The PQ leader also tried to curb immigration to the province in February.
When the federal government released its 2022-2024 Levels Plan in which it revealed that Ottawa wants to welcome 431,645 permanent residents this year, 447,055 next year and 451,000 in 2024, St-Pierre Plamondon sent a letter to the prime minister asking if the province had been consulted on Canada’s new immigration targets.
In this letter, the leader of the PQ warned that higher levels of immigration to the rest of Canada could reduce the influence of Quebec on the national political scene.
“Quebec is already in a position to be politically insignificant in the sense that to become Prime Minister of Canada, it is no longer necessary to win Quebec,” the leader of the separatist party reportedly declared.
“Given the fragility of Francophones in North America, being part of a political structure that no longer needs to consider our interests to exercise power, given the history of imperialism and colonialism in Canada towards francophones and aboriginal peoples, the future is bleak. for us if we continue to be part of Canada.
The Conservative Party of Quebec’s approach to immigration in this election is simply to avoid the subject altogether. The party platform is completely silent on immigration.
Sovereignist Quebec solidaire is silent on increasing or decreasing immigration levels overall, but has come out in favor of increased immigration for refugees fleeing their homes due to the effects of the changes. climatic or other humanitarian reasons.
“We want to make Quebec a sanctuary and a truly welcoming place while making it easier to obtain citizenship for those who are already here,” the party’s platform reads in French.
The party also proposes to strengthen settlement services and the teaching of French to immigrants in all regions of the province.