Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette is seeking recommendations from a consultative organization in the province on employer-specific work permits following abuse of temporary workers.
“In the past few months, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)’s employer-specific work permit has been a source of concern in our society because it can lead to situations of vulnerability and abuse by employers,” said Fréchette.
“Although mechanisms to monitor and get feedback have been put in place in the past few years, most notably by the Commission des Normes, de l’Équité, de la Santé et de la Sécurité du Travail (CNESST), Quebec’s workplace health and safety department), we want to offer more flexibility to temporary foreign workers.”
The immigration minister expressed sympathy for temporary foreign workers who face particular challenges.
She noted she is looking forward to the results of a study to be conducted by the Commission des Partenaires du Marché du Travail (CPMT), a provincial, consultative organization that convenes relevant business, labour, education, community and government stakeholders to find ways to improve the labour market.
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The CPMT’s recommendations are to be submitted to the provincial government and form the basis for reforms to better support temporary foreign workers, said Quebec Employment Minister Kateri Champagne Jourdain.
Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet said the CPMT will study the outcomes of temporary foreign workers in Canada through the TFWP.
“The CNESST is particularly sensitive to the situation faced by these temporary foreign workers in Quebec and is undertaking several pro-active initiatives to ensure they are treated equitably in the workplace,” said Boulet.
“The CNESST also works with employers to provide them with the tools they need to support their applications and ensure they conform with our labour standards.”
The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals there were 38,375 temporary foreign workers granted work permits under the TFWP last year, more than three times as many as the 11,500 such workers in 2015.
And the trend towards Quebec bringing in increasingly-greater numbers of temporary foreign workers is continuing this year.
In the first seven months of 2023 alone, there were 41,970 work permits issued under the TFWP in Quebec, putting the province on track, if the trend continues, to welcome 71,946 such workers this year, almost twice as many as last year.
Business Groups, Opposition Parties Want More Immigration To Quebec
Quebec’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government has repeatedly insisted it must keep immigration at no more than 50,000 new permanent residents per year but is increasingly coming under pressure from opposition parties and business groups who want much higher immigration levels.
The immigration critic of the Québec Solidaire provincial party is the latest to come out in favour of more immigration, insisting the province must remove its cap on family sponsorships.
“I’m hoping that every Quebecer, and of course the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government, can show some compassion, empathy, and allow their spouses and kids to be reunited with them here in Canada,” Québec Solidaire’s Guillaume Cliche-Rivard reportedly told Global News.
The newly-elected member of Quebec’s legislature said the province’s 10,000-application cap on family sponsorships has led to much-longer wait times for family reunifications in Quebec than in other provinces.
In response to the calls for more immigration in Quebec, the province launched a three-week consultation process Sept. 12 with a committee of the National Assembly of Quebec expected to review 77 briefs and listen to the presentations of roughly 70 experts and organizations.
The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals Quebec in fact welcomed 68,720 new permanent residents last year and had already received another 33,550 new permanent residents by the end of July this year,
That level of immigration, if the trend seen in the first seven months of this year were to be continued throughout the rest of 2023, would see 57,514 new permanent residents settling in Quebec by the end of this year.
Michel Leblanc, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, wants Quebec to raise its immigration target to 60,000 to help resolve labour shortages.
“This need, which is quite predictable, can be explained by the demographic tightening of Quebec’s population, which is occurring at a time when our economy is experiencing strong structural momentum,” Leblanc has reportedly said.
“Our society as a whole has to contend with a sustained increase in the number of vacancies in all areas, from healthcare to education to high-tech sectors.”