Despite Labor Shortage, Quebec Alienates International Students

French Language Requirement Makes It Hard For Ukrainians to Immigrate to Quebec
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Critics say Quebec is damaging its economy by pushing away international students in the name of preserving the French language in the middle of an intense labor shortage of roughly 200,000 open positions.

Last month, Quebec announced that it is hiking university tuition to at least $20,000 for international students looking to study in the province.

Moreover, it will take the first $20,000 those students pay and invest that into French-speaking universities; this forces English-speaking universities to raise tuition significantly beyond that threshold, as per The Financial Post contributor Marisa Coulton.

Quebec Minister of Higher Education Pascale Dery justified the province’s decision by saying that international and out-of-province students leave Quebec instead of working in French-speaking jobs.

However, The Financial Post cites a report that questions the veracity of that statement – of the roughly 50,000 post-secondary Quebec study permit holders, 44 percent work at the time of their studies.

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Business groups have pointed out the benefits that Canada derives from international students, with the president of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce calling them a “safety valve” for relieving pressure on the domestic labor market.

This is especially true when more international students than ever are choosing to become temporary foreign workers, working on a part-time basis during their studies, and a full-time basis after graduation.

Between 2000 and 2019, in fact, the number of employed international students in Canada went from 18 percent to 50 percent.

Regardless, Quebec continues to show hostility towards immigrant students in ways more than one.

Concordia and McGill Have Complained About Quebec’s New Immigration Rules

Just two months ago, Concordia and McGill universities had shown their displeasure with Quebec’s new immigration rules that require international students to learn French, arguing that such a requirement would turn them away from coming to the province. had covered this story in September, when McGill’s deputy provost of student life and learning Fabrice Labeau had told the legislature committee examining tabled immigration policy reforms that one of the “involuntary consequences” of the changes to the Programme de l’experience Quebecoise (PEQ) will be that international students without knowledge of French will be deterred from applying and gaining Quebec jobs.

PEQ – which is a fast-track for international students to obtain a Quebec selection certificate – was announced to be changed by Christine Frechette in May, when she tabled a reform package.

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PEQ started distinguishing between francophone and anglophone applicants in an effort to increase more French-oriented applicants.

Herein, foreign students who studied in French or are francophone can  benefit from a fast-tracked system designed to retain them in the country, wherein they can make a request to apply for a certificate leading to permanent residency instead of waiting 12 to 18 months to qualify for the same.

Students who come to Quebec to study in English and do not have sufficient French under their belt will, on the other hand, no longer qualify for the PEQ and its added advantages.

This is largely in line with Frechette’s overall immigration reforms in the economic category, which is controlled by Quebec.

Quebec Backtracks On its Tuition Hike for Out-of-Province Students

International students were not the only students who were to be targeted by Quebec’s reforms; out-of-province Canadians’ tuition was set to roughly double, from $9,000 to nearly $17,000 per annum.

However, this policy has since been backtracked upon, with CTV News Montreal’s Daniel J Rowe reporting on Wednesday morning that the Legault government will increase tuition by 33 percent for out-of-province students.

This means a hike from around $9,000 to $12,000 for Canadian students from outside Quebec.

Tuition plans for international students remained unchanged, however.

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.