While Quebec seeks to compensate for immigrants who were unable to arrive during the peak of the pandemic, immigration is expected to reach a record high of approximately 71,275 new permanent residents this year, up more than 41.7 percent from 50,285 last year.
In an interview with the French-language Radio Canada television network, Quebec Immigration Minister Jean Boulet downplayed this year’s increase in immigration to the province. Facing pressure from business and economic groups to significantly increase Quebec’s immigration targets — a move opposed by the Parti Quebecois opposition party – Boulet characterised this year’s rise in immigration as the province made up for losses during the Covid-19 outbreak.
“According to the multi-year plan, the number of immigrants authorised is limited to 52,500 new permanent residents in Quebec per year,” said Boulet in French.
However, Quebec was unable to accept the 44,000 new permanent residents allowed under that multi-year plan in 2020. Instead, there were just 25,225 new permanent residents in Quebec that same year. The 18,775 permanent residence gaps between those predicted under the 2020 immigration objective and those that arrived that year have now been added to Quebec’s allotment for this year.
Because the previous shortfall is now being added to the 52,500 allotments for this year under the multi-year plan, immigration to Quebec is at an all-time high. If that amount of immigration occurs, it will result in 20,990 more new permanent residents in Quebec this year than in 2021.
The increase in immigration to Quebec coincides with the province’s expectation of an increase in temporary foreign employees from the roughly 30,000 who worked there last year.
“With streamlined applications and the addition of numerous industries and trades that will benefit from expedited processing for temporary immigration, there will undoubtedly be more (temporary foreign workers in Quebec) to satisfy the expectations of Quebec enterprises,” Boulet said.
Earlier this month, business and industry groups in Quebec petitioned the province to nearly quadruple immigration to the province in order to address significant labour shortages. According to industry groups, Quebec should welcome 80,000 immigrants each year. As per the reports, Véronique Proulx, president of the Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Québec (MEQ) manufacturing and exporting sector association, has urged for the province to accept up to 90,000 immigrants per year.
“We realise that labour shortages cannot be fixed overnight, and it will take a succession of policies working in unison to mitigate the impact of a labour shortfall,” Proulx said in a statement in French.
MEQ and three other business associations, the Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ) employers’ group, the Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec (FCCQ) chambers of commerce association, and the Fédération Canadienne de l’Entreprise Indépendante (FCEI) association of independent businesses, lobbied provincial political parties last week to take a series of measures to address labour shortages. Immigration was one of them.
“With a Quebec provincial election on or before October 3rd, it is critical for us to remind political parties about the need to put sound measures in place to develop the pool of employees and sustain Quebec’s competitive advantage,” said Proulx.
However, in the provincial legislature, the Parti Québécois (PQ) was opposed to any significant rise in immigration. Instead, PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon wants an immigration debate “based on science, not ideology or erroneous premises.”
“The mere act of raising immigration quotas raises inferences about the intolerance of those raising them, which creates an atmosphere that is not tranquil,” he reportedly remarked.
According to him, Quebec society must make its own decisions about immigration and determine whether or not greater immigration will increase income and raise per capita GDP. In February, the PQ leader attempted to halt immigration to the province.
When the federal government released its 2022-2024 Levels Plan, revealing that Ottawa wants to welcome 431,645 permanent residents this year, 447,055 the following year, and 451,000 in 2024, St-Pierre Plamondon wrote to Quebec Premier François Legault, asking if the province had been consulted about Canada’s new immigration targets. Within the letter, the PQ leader cautioned that increased immigration to the rest of Canada could reduce Quebec’s political weight.
“Quebec is already in the situation of being politically inconsequential in the sense that winning over Quebec is no longer required to become Prime Minister of Canada,” the separatist party’s head reportedly remarked.
“Given the fragile state of francophones in North America, being part of a political structure that no longer requires us to consider our interests in order to wield power, and given Canada’s history of imperialism and colonialism towards francophones and indigenous people, the future is bleak for us if we remain a part of Canada,” he writes.
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