The Quebec government has announced plans to reduce immigration levels over the next two years in order to help improve integration levels.
The announcement comes in the midst of a heated public debate over the provincial government’s planned Charter of Values, which would ban the wearing of religious apparel for public sector workers.
The government says that lowering immigration target levels for 2014 is part of a larger strategy that was in place long before the controversy erupted over the new charter.
In 2012 approximately 55,000 newcomers arrived in Quebec. The government aims to accept between 49,000 and 52,500 for 2014 and further trim that number to between 48,500 and 51,500 for 2015.
The government says that the reduction will help to improve efforts to better integrate newcomers into Quebec life. It is also intended to ensure that immigrants are able to function and succeed in French, the province’s first official language.
Quebec is falling behind other provinces in terms of population growth, so officials are watching closely to see how immigration levels are affecting social conditions and the economy.
For years Quebec has had more jurisdiction over immigration matters than any other province, and has used that power to focus on attracting French-speaking newcomers to keep the language alive. The government intends to spend $13.5 million per year over the next three years on immigrant language services.
The province also intends to hold public consultations to guide immigration policies over the long-term.
Source: Ottawa Citizen