The administration of Premier François Legault, who has strongly opposed immigration increases, may establish a new program or category that would specifically target temporary residents already living in Quebec.
Quebec and Ottawa officials say a new program idea is in the works, and conversations are now taking place.
By facilitating a faster stream toward permanent residency, the intention is to keep families, students, and workers in Quebec.
The qualifying candidates may include recent graduates from CEGEP universities and colleges in the province and long-term temporary workers.
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The need to protect the French language in Quebec
The Legault government may offer options to Ottawa and Quebec authorities in the immigration community in the coming months, while no numbers for prospective new thresholds have been proposed.
There is a possibility that Quebec may accept more immigrants, provided that they speak French. The province will release its new immigration plan by mid-December.
Although nothing has been formally approved, more immigrants may be welcomed to Quebec as permanent residents. Quebec currently has a 50,000 immigrant cap.
Legault’s team is now more aware of the importance of preserving French, which has motivated it to research other strategies for attracting and retaining French-speaking immigrants. By 2025, Ottawa expects to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents annually.
After a delay due to the provincial election, public consultations to define Quebec’s three-year immigration plan are now set for the next year.
Uncertainty about Quebec making French a primary requirement for immigrants
Currently, nothing prevents Quebec from revising its selection criteria and selecting more French-speaking immigrants in the economic categories. The provincial government is granted certain rights under the Quebec-Ottawa Immigration Agreement.
However, the government is not considering making French proficiency a requirement for immigration to Quebec. Christine Fréchette, the newly appointed minister of immigration, has already expressed opposition to the plan.
The business community supports the francization of immigrants as soon as they arrive, primarily through businesses, just like the Legault government does. It would simplify for companies to hire the highly sought-after English-speaking staff they need in the high-tech industries.
Therefore, Quebec cannot request that the federal government give French-speaking applicants preference when granting permanent status.
As Quebec proposes, creating a new program with different requirements might fix this issue and facilitate negotiations with the federal government, which Ottawa would find favourable.
By the middle of December, the Quebec immigration plan for 2023 is expected to be submitted. The 2024–2026 three-year plan will be publicly available in a year.
Source: Radio Canada