According to Quebec Immigration Minister Jean Boulet and Canada Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, Ottawa has to improve its processing timeframes for applications for economic immigration and study permits for overseas students.
The francophone province’s continuing complaint about lengthy processing timeframes for permanent residency applications dates back to early last year. Former Quebec Immigration Minister Nadine Girault slammed Ottawa in May of last year, calling the processing times “deplorable.”
At the time, the processing period for applications for permanent residence in Quebec was reported to be more than two years, 27 months, compared to six months in the rest of the country.
The situation was also deteriorating rather than improving. The processing period for applications to Quebec in 2019 was 19 months. Canada’s new immigration minister, Sean Fraser, took action on the issue last month and visited with Boulet. However, no information about the committee’s conclusion has been revealed, Quebec’s immigration minister praised it as a “nice meeting.”
“I reminded him that Ottawa must speed up the process of admitting economic immigrants selected by Quebec and the issuance of study permits for francophone international students,” tweeted Boulet in French. “My counterpart has assured me of the cooperation of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).”
Following the meeting, Canada’s immigration minister expressed optimism. Canada and Quebec will continue to collaborate to advance our shared interests, according to Fraser’s tweet. “Canada is committed to protecting the French language by welcoming more francophone immigrants to Quebec and the rest of the country.”
According to the most recent IRCC data, 44,495 new permanent residents arrived in Quebec in the first 11 months of last year, nearly 76.4 per cent higher than in all of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic brought immigration to Canada to a standstill.
The number of new permanent residents in Quebec in the first 11 months of 2021 is also over 9.7 per cent greater than the 40,565 new permanent residents who arrived in the province in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic began.
Over Twitter, however, the soothing words of Canada’s immigration minister and Quebec’s labour minister were insufficient for dissatisfied immigration applicants.
“We’ve had enough of this situation!” wrote one Twitter user. “We pay thousands of dollars to have, at the end of the day, no assistance! They don’t even reply to our applications. “A file that should reasonably take six months to process, the IRCC in Sydney takes 44 months to complete. Free us!”
In an effort to assist Quebec in resolving its labour shortages, Ottawa agreed to allow businesses in Quebec to hire twice as many temporary foreign workers under a deal struck between the province and the federal government.
“The recruitment of temporary foreign workers is one of the options Quebec businesses will now have to deal with the labour shortage,” said Boulet last August. “With this flexibility in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, we are supporting businesses suffering from an urgent need for workers.”
Quebec spent $246 million in its budget last year on programs to attract and retain immigrants.
“Attracting and retaining immigrants to our communities, particularly those in the outlying regions, allows businesses to grow due to these skilled workers and helps resolve labor shortages in several of our economic sectors,” said Girault.
According to the agreement reached last year, Quebec businesses in some areas of the economy can now hire temporary foreign employees for up to 20% of their workforce, up from the current ceiling of 10%, in lower-paying jobs. Quebec became the first province to relax the legal restriction on temporary foreign employees after reaching an agreement.
In addition, the province has simplified the application process for more in-demand occupations, such as lower-skilled employment and the hard-hit hotel sector. Considering his optimistic outlook on immigration, Quebec Premier François Legault has ruled out major increases in immigration while the francophone province rebuilds its economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the premier has focused his efforts on helping Quebec heal and build a brighter future.
“Now that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, it’s time for Quebec to project itself into the future,” Legault reportedly said.
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