Quebec will not increase immigration after the release of Canada’s latest plan that sets out record-breaking targets for the next three years, Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette says.
“It is up to Quebec to set its own targets for permanent immigration,” the newly-minted immigration minister tweeted in French on Tuesday.
“The upper limit for Quebec is now 50,000 (new permanent residents) due to our capacity to welcome, provide French-language services and integrate them.”
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The francophone province’s immigration minister maintains that Quebec is already welcoming proportionately more immigrants than do either the United States or France.
“Our position has remained the same: we need more control over immigration to protect the French language,” tweeted Fréchette.
In that tweet – retweeted by Quebec Premier François Legault without additional comment – the Quebec immigration minister wrote she would be continuing talks with federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
Legault has reportedly backed his immigration minister and reiterated his position made on the campaign trail ahead of the provincial election earlier this year that Quebec cannot handle more than 50,000 new permanent residents annually.
In the 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan unveiled earlier this week, Ottawa is targeting 465,000 new permanent residents in 2023, 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025.
That’s a total of 1.45 million immigrants to Canada over the coming three years.
Under a provincial-federal agreement, Quebec’s annual share of new permanent residents is to be equal to its demographic clout within Canada. Since the province has 23 per cent of the country’s population, a national immigration target of 465,000 new permanent residents would mean Quebec could accept up to 106,950 new permanent residents next year.
By 2025, that number would rise to 115,000.
IRCC Data Shows Quebec Already On Track To Receive 68,265 Immigrants This Year
The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals Quebec had already welcomed 45,510 new permanent residents by the end of August.
Based on that trend, the province is already on track to welcome 68,265 new permanent residents this year. That would be 18,265, or more than 36.5 per cent, more than the province’s current immigration minister maintains Quebec can accept.
In Quebec, immigration was a hot-button issue last summer with business groups calling for vastly-higher immigration levels during the election campaign to resolve serious labour shortages in the province.
Véronique Proulx, president of the Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Québec (MEQ) manufacturing and exporting industry association, reportedly called for the province to receive as many as 90,000 immigrants annually ahead of the election.
“We know the labour shortages cannot be fixed in the blink of an eye and it will take a series of strategies working in tandem to reduce the impact of the lack of workers,” Proulx said in a statement in French.
Ahead of the campaign period for the provincial election, MEQ and three other business associations, the Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ) employers’ group, the Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec (FCCQ) association of chambers of commerce, and the Fédération Canadienne de l’Entreprise Indépendante (FCEI) association of independent businesses, lobbied the provincial political parties to take a series of measures to resolve the labour shortages, including a massive increase in immigration.
Liberals And Business Groups Wanted Immigration To Quebec Raised To 70,000 Immigrants Annually
The provincial Liberals, who were soundly defeated on election day, picked up on the immigration issue, pressing Legault to dramatically increase the province’s immigration targets.
Provincial Liberal leader Dominique Anglade called for up to 70,000 new permanent residents annually.
“This year, Quebec will on the whole welcome that many,” she reportedly predicted in French. “This is the policy of François Legault, 70,000 people. If we have the capacity to welcome 70,000 immigrants, I think that we should base ourselves on that figure and we are discussing that in all the regions of Quebec.”
Legault refused to budge.
In the week ahead of the election, he went so far as a controversial comment to describe a substantial increase in immigration to the province as something that would be cultural suicide for the Quebecois culture.
“Until we have stopped the decline of French,” the premier told business leaders, “I think that, for the Quebec nation, which wants to protect French, it would be a bit suicidal to increase (immigration).”