The province of Quebec has introduced stricter language laws in an attempt to draw a higher proportion of French-speaking immigrants.
The new regulations, which went into effect this month, require applicants to demonstrate stronger skills in French, such as the skilled worker category which formerly required applicants to demonstrate only a beginner level. Now skilled immigrants wishing to apply through Quebec will have to demonstrate that they are at the advanced intermediate level.
Furthermore, the points system has been recalibrated to place more emphasis on an applicant’s ability to speak French.
“We have re-thought our approach in order to select, around the world, immigrants able to respond adequately to Quebec’s needs and to contribute to its prosperity,” said Quebec Immigration and Cultural Communities Minister Diane De Courcy. “We want people who choose Quebec to be able not only to live and work in French, but also to find a job more easily.”
Until now most Quebec immigrants arriving under the skilled worker category could speak French, but others coming through different immigration programs were less likely to speak the language, such as those applying through the investor program whose French-speaking rate was less than 10 percent.
However, some critics, such as immigrant advocate Stephan Reichhold, say that the new regulations go too far and that they will limit the diversity of newcomers entering Quebec. He argues that the government should be focusing its efforts on integration assistance rather than language which, he says, is not the problem.
Other critics say that in placing so much emphasis on French, the government is neglecting the fact that a large number of newcomers to the province settle in Montreal – a city where speaking English is almost as important as speaking French.
The government, however, stands by its new regulations arguing that they will also help reduce application processing times in that those without the required language skills will automatically be omitted from consideration.
Source: Ottawa Citizen