Last Updated on February 6, 2020
Aug 26, 2019 – The Quebec government’s policy of cutting immigration has resulted in the province welcoming dramatically fewer of the type of newcomers most likely to find jobs and integrate quickly, new figures show.
Numbers of French-speaking newcomers plummeted in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period of 2018 – completely at odds with the governing Coalition Avenir Quebec’s strategy.
The CAQ said it wanted to reduce immigration and bring in more newcomers with the attributes to integrate quickly into the Quebec system.
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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.
These numbers are far greater than the overall planned reduction of 20 per cent, from 52,000 newcomers in 2018 to 42,000 in 2019.
At the same time, family class immigration has dropped by 10 per cent in the first six months of the year, and refugee class immigration has dropped by 20 per cent.
Experts say the figures show Quebec is reducing immigration in entirely the wrong places if improved integration is what it wants to achieve.
By reducing French-speaking, skilled worker immigrants, it is cutting exactly the kind of immigrants more likely to integrate quickly.
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.
Quebec’s immigration ministry (MIDI) says that data for the first six months does not provide a full picture of whole year. By the end of 2019 it expects to welcome a number of economic class immigrants in line with the CAQ’s targets.
Another reason for the reduced economic class immigration number in the first half of 2019 is that the CAQ spent the first part of the year pushing through legislation to scrap the backlog of applications under the old system.
A Quebec judge had to impose an injunction to force the CAQ to continue processing applications under the old system, until Bill 9 eventually became law in June.
Only then did Quebec begin issuing invitations to apply through its new Expression of Interest system, known as Arrima.
MIDI has so far released details of two draws and 950 invitations issued under the new system.