Canada’s francophone province of Quebec is pumping $246 million into programs to attract and retain immigrants, according to its latest budget.
“Attracting and retaining immigrants to our communities, particularly those in the outlying regions, allows businesses to grow due to these skilled workers and helps resolve labour shortages in several of our economic sectors,” said Immigration Minister Nadine Girault in French.
“These investments announced by the Quebec government will allow us to put in place more measures to effectively integrate immigrants so they can contribute fully to the development and prosperity of our province,” she said.
Finance Minister Eric Girard announced the new funding for immigration during the unveiling of the province’s latest budget.
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The money is earmarked to allow Quebec’s department of immigration, the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI), to beef up its processes to better recognize immigrants foreign qualifications, to recruit immigrants to outlying areas, to match the need for immigration to labour market needs, and to improve programs designed to integrate these newcomers into Quebecois society.
The funds are also to be used to boost French language education programs for immigrants and to attract more international students.
Quebec Invests $130m In Credential Recognition
The biggest chunk of the money – $130 million spread out over the coming decade – is to go to programs to recognize immigrants’ foreign qualifications.
That will include:
- identification of occupations and professions to be prioritized based on labour market needs;
- an increase in the number of training and refresher courses for temporary foreign workers who are in the process of having their foreign qualifications recognized;
- financial assistance for immigrants in the process of having their foreign qualifications recognized;
- tuition fee exemptions for foreign-educated professionals taking refresher courses to meet the requirements of professional bodies, and;
- support for those professional bodies to help them more quickly recognize foreign qualifications.
Another $57 million of the budgeted funds will be spent over the next two years for programs to entice immigrants to settle in parts of the province with acute labour shortages and to help them integrate into those communities.
French Language Training Gets $50
As Canada’s sole francophone province, Quebec puts a great emphasis on the French language and intends to invest $50 million over the next two years to teach the language to immigrants and support them financially as they take French language courses.
The province is also planning to inject $9.1 million of the budgeted amount over the next three years through economic development agencies in Montreal, Quebec City and Drummondville to attract foreign students.
Earlier this year, Quebec announced it would invest more than $8 million into its community support program, the Programme d’appui aux collectivités (PAC).
“With the PAC, we are adding to the tools we can use to welcome and promote the sustainable establishment of immigrants and their families in our regions,” said Girault in French in February.
Community Support Program
“We want them to be able to fully participate, in French, in the vitality of all of our regions and help them contribute to Quebec’s economic recovery.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic raged throughout Canada last year, immigration slowed to a trickle – and Quebec was not spared in the downturn in immigration.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada figures show the number of new permanent residents who made Quebec their home fell by almost 37.9 per cent last year, to 25,195 from 40,565 the previous year.