Quebec has announced it will open 40 new immigration ministry (MIDI) service points across the province to improve access for businesses and regions.
The expansion will include the addition of more than 100 new staff and mean Quebec immigration has a presence in 50 cities across the French-speaking province, Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette announced on Wenesday.
It will also see two new MIDI regional directorates opened, bringing the total number to six.
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The expansion will see the creation of a new role with the department, that of Regional Immigration Advisor.
New staff members will be tasked with:
- Keeping companies informed on the programs available for permanent and temporary immigration, and the available financial assistance.
- Processing business applications.
- Helping employers use the Arrima platform’s ‘Employer Portal’.
- Support those working to improve immigrant integration.
The reforms, which will see investment of $8.3 million, follow Quebec’s move to spend $55 million to support businesses looking to hire temporary foreign workers, with the province in the grip of a labour shortage.
The new funding, announced by Labour Minister Jean Boulet on August 26, includes $20.9 million in assistance for businesses looking to hire TFWs.
A further $33.9 million is to be spent on the employment integration of immigrant workers, enhancing the province’s Immigrant and Visible Minority Integration Program (PRIIME) and Internationally Trained Employment Integration Program (IPOP).
These are the latest in a number of changes made by the governing Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ).
The populist government plans to reduce immigration by 20 per cent in 2019 as it overhauls the system for integrating newcomers.
Controversial CAQ changes have resulted in the province welcoming dramatically fewer of the type of newcomers most likely to find jobs and integrate quickly, according to recently released figures.
Numbers of French-speaking newcomers plummeted in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period of 2018.
The CAQ said it wanted to reduce immigration and bring in more newcomers with the attributes to integrate quickly into the Quebec system.
Instead figures show that immigrants to Canada from French-speaking countries including Haiti, France and Tunisia are down significantly, with numbers dropping by 43 per cent, 34 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
Overall, economic immigrants to Quebec dropped by a third in the first half of the year, with the number of skilled workers within that category dropping by 41 per cent.
While the provincial government goes about cutting immigration, Quebec businesses are calling for increases, with the province in the grip of a worsening labour shortage.
Quebec unemployment currently stands at a record-low 4.9 per cent, with a job vacancy rate of 4.1 per cent, the highest of any province in Canada. The latest federal government job vacancy report put the number of Quebec vacancies at nearly 121,000.
The CAQ says it plans to steadily increase immigration to 52,500 by 2022, following the 2019 reduction. Businesses have called on the government to abandon the plan to reduce 2019 immigration levels, and increase numbers going forwards.