According to the Premier of the province, Francois Legault, this will be feasible following an immigration reform that was published today.
As per this reform, the great majority of persons (around 90%) who enter the province under the economic immigration system would be required to speak French before they arrive.
“From the moment we are able to say that the increase is only francophones, or people who can speak French, that completely changes the situation. Because there’s real openness on the part of the federal government, the increase is only people who have mastered French.” he told reporters today in Quebec City.
Legault stated that the only way a potential increase in immigration might occur would be through an increase in the number of persons admitted into the economic immigration stream that is regulated by Quebec.
Sixty-five percent of immigrants to Quebec enter the country through the economic stream, which is managed by the provincial government.
The remaining immigrants enter the country through the family reunification and refugee programs, which are run by the federal government.
According to Legault, he felt that the federal government would impose increases in those two categories if Quebec allowed more economic immigrants.
Last year, when he called more immigration as “suicidal”, he was under the impression that the federal government would force such increases.
He stated, “At the time, I thought that the federal government wouldn’t permit us to increase only the percentage of economic immigrants, but so far, with the discussion we’ve had with the federal government, they are more than open to accept that, so it’s changing the picture completely.”
“I thought that the federal government wouldn’t permit us to increase only the percentage of economic immigrants because they would not permit us to increase only the percentage of economic immigrants,” he said.
He stated that the rise is one of two options that the province is exploring, and that the second scenario would keep immigration at 50,000 individuals a year. He said that the government is considering both eventualities.
Legault predicted that the number of immigrants will gradually climb to reach 60,000 per year by the year 2027 if the proposal to raise the barrier was approved.
According to him, the true number of immigrants that the province welcomes might be much greater than that given figure since it does not take into account the people who arrive through a fast-track program that is reserved for graduates of colleges in Quebec.
Nevertheless, this program — which at the moment calls for applicants to have a higher level of French than many workers who would be accepted under the province’s new plan and which is open to graduates of all Quebec post-secondary institutions — will only be available to students who have graduated from programs taught in French or who attended high school in French.
Legault has stated that the major obligation of his position as Premier of Quebec is to preserve the French identity of the province.
Because the number of individuals who speak French has been on the decline over the past ten, fifteen, and twenty years, it is imperative that we take action, and I believe it is essential that we make it a prerequisite for acceptance that applicants demonstrate proficiency in French.
Quebec’s Minister of Immigration, Christine Fréchette, stated that the reform, which will go ahead regardless of whether the province decides to increase its immigration threshold or not, will change the way Quebec selects immigrants, moving away from a point system that rewards, but does not require, knowledge of the French language. This change will take place regardless of whether the province decides to increase its immigration threshold or not.
The point system will be replaced by a system that requires the fulfillment of particular requirements, such as an understanding of the French language.
According to Fréchette, graduates of English-language programs at Quebec institutions will no longer be eligible for the fast track, which is known as the Quebec Experience Program. However, graduates of these schools who do speak French will still be able to apply as skilled employees.
She stated, “So it’s not like the door is closed, it’s just that there’s another path that will have to be taken,” implying that the door was not actually closed.
She stated that according to the new plan, those who wish to come to Quebec through the economic stream will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in the French language.
If this increase is implemented, the percentage of all immigrants to Quebec who are fluent in French would rise from 68 percent in 2022 to 72 percent by 2027; however, if the number of immigrants is maintained at 50,000 individuals a year, the percentage would fall to 70 percent by 2027.
Legault has stated that he will first seek the advice of industry professionals before deciding whether or not to commit to the raise.
The change was met with largely positive reception from business organizations, and there is optimism that the province would increase immigration numbers.
According to the Conseil du patronat du Québec, a significant employers’ association in Quebec, the proposed change looks to strike a compromise between fostering the use of the French language and assisting businesses in the recruitment of qualified employees.
However, opposition parties have voiced their disapproval of the change on the grounds that it does not solve the problem of temporary foreign employees.
There are around 346,000 people in the province who are only there temporarily. This number includes foreign students, those working in temporary jobs, and asylum seekers.
According to Monsef Derraji, who is the immigration critic for the Liberal opposition party, the government need to make French-language programs accessible to temporary employees.
According to Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, an immigration critic for Québec Solidaire, the government needs a plan to encourage immigrants to settle outside of large cities. One way to accomplish this goal would be to provide temporary employees with a road to permanent residency.