Quebec business and industry groups want to nearly quadruple immigration to address labour shortages, but the francophone province’s separatist opposition party is skeptical.
Industry leaders want it to be significantly enhanced in order to assist alleviate the province’s acute labour shortages. According to industry groups, Quebec should welcome 80,000 immigrants each year. According to reports, Véronique Proulx, president of the Manufacturers et Exportateurs du Québec (MEQ) manufacturing and exporting sector association, has urged 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. Not so fast, argues Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ).
Although it now only has a tiny number of seats in the provincial legislature, the PQ continues to wield disproportionate power in Quebecois society because it previously formed the government. It also opposes the province’s call for additional immigration. Conversely, St-Pierre Plamondon wants an immigration debate that is “based on science, not ideology or incorrect 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.
However, Quebec society must make its own decisions regarding immigration and determine whether greater immigration will increase prosperity and raise per capita GDP, he said. It is not the first time the PQ leader has attempted to halt immigration. The federal government unveiled its 2022-2024 Levels Plan in February, revealing that Ottawa aims to accept 431,645 permanent residents this year, 447,055 the following year, and 451,000 in 2024. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser stated that increased immigration numbers will help Canada to address labour shortages while also boosting the national economy.
“We are focusing on economic recovery, and immigration is critical to that,” stated. “Bold new immigration targets, as established in the Levels Plan for 2022-2024, will help bring the immeasurable contribution of immigrants to our communities and across all sectors of the economy even further.”
That did not go down well with St-Pierre Plamondon. He promptly wrote to Quebec Premier François Legault, asking if the province had been consulted about Canada’s revised immigration objectives.
In that letter, the PQ leader also cautioned that increased immigration to the rest of Canada could reduce Quebec’s political weight. According to St-Pierre Plamondon, Quebeckers currently account for only 23% of the Canadian population, down from 25% previously. He cautioned that additional immigrants in the rest of Canada could result in Quebec accounting for barely 20% of the Canadian population.
“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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