Immigration to Quebec is going to skyrocket to a record high of roughly 71,275 new permanent residents this year, up more than 41.7 per cent from the 50,285 last year, as the province tries to make up for immigrants who were unable to come at the height of the pandemic.
Quebec Immigration Minister Jean Boulet downplayed this year’s boost in immigration to the province in an interview with the French-language Radio Canada television network.
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Under pressure from business and industry groups to vastly increase Quebec’s immigration targets – a move frowned upon by the Parti Quebecois opposition party – Boulet explained away this year’s increase in immigration as nothing more than the province catching up for losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Quebec Immigration Fell Short Of Target By 18,775 Permanent Residents In 2020
“The limit on the number of immigrants allowed, based on the multi-year plan, limits new permanent residents to Quebec to 52,500 per year,” said Boulet in French.
In 2020, though, Quebec was unable to welcome the 44,000 new permanent residents which it was then allowed under that multi-year plan. Instead, only 25,225 new permanent residents came to Quebec that year.
The 18,775 shortfalls in permanent residents between those expected under the 2020 immigration target and those who actually came that year are now being added to Quebec’s allotment for this year.
That’s pushing immigration to Quebec to a record high because the previous shortfall is now being added to the 52,500 allotments for this year under the multi-year plan.
That level of immigration to Quebec – if it materializes – will mean 20,990 more new permanent residents to the province this year than in 2021.
Quebec Immigration Minister Also Expecting Higher Temporary Foreign Worker Numbers
The boost in immigration to Quebec comes as the province is also expecting an increase in temporary foreign workers from the roughly 30,000 who worked in the province last year.
“With the simplified applications and the addition of several occupations, trades that will benefit from fast-track processing for temporary immigration, there will certainly be more (temporary foreign workers in Quebec) to meet the demands of Quebec businesses,” said Boulet.
Earlier this month, business and industry groups in Quebec lobbied the province to almost double immigration to Quebec to resolve acute labor shortages there.
The reported consensus among industry groups is for Quebec to welcome 80,000 immigrants every year.
Véronique Proulx, president of the Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Québec (MEQ) manufacturing and exporting industry association, has reportedly called for the province to receive as many as 90,000 immigrants annually.
“We know the labor 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.
Last week, 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 labor shortages.
Immigration was among them.
“With a Quebec provincial election (scheduled to take place on or before Oct. 3), it is important for us to inform political parties about the need to put in place solid strategies to grow the pool of workers and maintain Quebec’s competitive advantage,” said Proulx.
Parti Québécois Wants To Put Brakes On Immigration Increases
In the provincial legislature, though, the Parti Québécois (PQ) opposed any sort of massive increase in immigration.
PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon instead wants a debate on immigration “based on science and not on ideology or false premises.”
“The simple fact of asking questions about raising immigration quotas raises implications about the intolerance of those bringing them up, which creates an atmosphere that is not serene,” he reportedly said.
Quebec society must make its own decisions about immigration and answer for itself whether or not more immigration will in fact create more wealth and raise the per capita GDP, he said.
The PQ leader tried to put the brakes on immigration to the province in February as well.
When the federal government released its 2022-2024 Levels Plan in which it revealed Ottawa wants to welcome 431,645 permanent residents this year, 447,055 next year, and 451,000 in 2024, St-Pierre Plamondon fired off a letter to Quebec Premier François Legault, asking him if the province had been consulted about Canada’s new immigration targets.
In that letter, the PQ leader warned that higher levels of immigration to the rest of Canada could cut Quebec’s clout on the national political scene.
“Quebec is already in the position of being politically insignificant in the sense that to become prime minister of Canada, one no longer has to win over Quebec,” the leader of the separatist party reportedly said.
“Given the fragile state of francophones in North America, being part of a political structure that no longer needs to consider our interests to wield power, in view of the history of imperialism and colonialism in Canada towards francophones and indigenous people, the future is bleak for us if we remain a part of Canada.”