February 11, 2019 – Ottawa has spoken out against the Quebec government’s plan to put conditions on Canadian permanent residence in the French-speaking province.
The Coalition Avenir Québec government last week tabled Bill 9, setting out a number of immigration changes, including cancelling 18,000 pending skilled worker applications, affecting 50,000 potential new permanent residents.
As part of the Bill 9 changes, the CAQ also wants to put in place conditions for new permanent residents to learn French and adopt ‘democratic values and the Quebec values expressed by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms’.
In a statement, federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc pointed out that Quebec’s immigration powers are ‘clearly defined in the Canada-Quebec Accord’.
Leblanc added: “… however we do not support the reintroduction of conditional permanent residency.”
The tabling of Bill 9 comes as the CAQ is pushing ahead with a campaign promise to cut Quebec immigration in 2019, from a target of 50,000 to 40,000.
CAQ’s 2019 Quebec Immigration Levels Plan
Meanwhile, the federal government is aiming to increase national immigration to 350,000 newcomers per year by 2021, according to the levels plan published in October 2018.
The federal plan is to use immigration as one way of tackling Canada’s shrinking labour market, with Quebec at the forefront of increasing job vacancies.
Leblanc says that with more than 100,000 jobs available in the French-speaking province, ‘it is essential that our governments continue to work together to ensure that the immigration system works for Quebecers and Canadians’.
Quebec’s Liberals say the CAQ’s Bill 9 is an attempt to circumvent federal law. “They know they don’t have the necessary latitude to act on permanent residents,” said Liberal immigration critic Dominique Anglade.
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The CAQ says it wants to reduce immigration temporarily so that the process of integrating new immigrants can be improved. Bill 9 will put a permanent end to thousands of applications.
With much of Quebec facing chronic labour shortages, opponents to the government’s policies say the province is in dire need of increased immigration, particularly in the Economic Class.
The use of retroactive legislation is a hallmark of Quebec Immigration policies. It used this legal tool in the past to raise criteria of pending applications, with retroactive effect. However, this is the first time it will completely cancel applications in order to deal with an unmanageable backlog of unprocessed applications.
In August 2018, Quebec implemented an Expression of Interest immigration system under its Quebec Skilled Worker program, called Arrima. It functions in a similar way as the federal Express Entry system and replaces the former first-come, first-served process. The first draw under this new system has not yet taken place.
Bill 9 will not affect applicants who submitted profiles under this new EOI system.
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