Business leaders in Montreal are calling for Quebec immigration numbers to reach 60,000 by 2020, instead of the slower increase favoured by the provincial government.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal wants to see the numbers rise by 10,000 from the current 50,000, while Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil is planning a more gradual rise, which would see 52,500 immigrants brought in by 2019.
It is the debate going on across Canada at the moment, with employers pushing for greater immigration numbers and streamlined programs for bringing in talent.
Board of Trade President Michel Blanc says the availability of talent is one of the key concerns of Quebec businesses going forward.
He agrees with the provincial government’s immigration reforms, designed to streamline the process and bring in the right immigrants to match labour shortages in Quebec.
The number of economic migrants to Quebec has been reduced in 2016 to make room for more refugees. Leblanc argues the refugees should have been added to the overall number.
He says technology talent, in demand across the rest of Canada and the world, is also a key requirement in Quebec.
Figures show Quebec welcomes 16 per cent of total immigration to Canada, but has 23 per cent of the total population.
Leblanc argues that if Quebec’s population continues to stagnate – receiving proportionally fewer immigrants than Ontario and British Columbia – it will have an impact on the provinces political standing inside Canada.
Quebec already creates controversy in Ontario and B.C. because of the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP).
It is Canada’s only viable passive investor program, and as such is extremely popular. The problem is the wealthy, mainly Chinese immigrants who pay $800,000 in return for permanent resident, end up settling in Toronto or Vancouver, helping to drive the housing booms the two major cities are experiencing.
Opponents to increased immigration in Quebec point to a greater unemployment rate for newcomers, saying that fewer, better-targeted immigrants are the best policy.
The issues are being debated at the National Assembly this week. There is also a proposal to increase the proportion of French speakers being welcomed.
The government wants 85 per cent of workers brought in to have a decent level of French.
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