Quebec, home to the city of Montreal, will welcome around 40,000 new permanent residents under the 2019 Quebec Immigration Plan, with the majority of those being selected for their economic potential.
This is around 20 percent fewer than the number expected to have settled in Quebec by the end of 2018, with the recently-elected Coalition Avenir Québec government steaming ahead with a campaign promise to reduce Quebec immigration levels, at least temporarily, with a view to improving integration of those who move to Canada’s only predominantly French-speaking province.
Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette stated to the Quebec legislature on December 4 that integration would include helping immigrants find work in Quebec and learn French.
Though the Quebec government describes the reduction as temporary, there is no indication of when or if the target immigration levels will increase once again, despite labour shortages across Quebec and pleas from employers for more workers. Other onlookers have pointed to a declining fertility rate, now at close to 1.5 per woman, which would lead to fewer people entering the workforce over time unless Quebec can attract and retain more immigrants.
And yet, the new Quebec government is reducing that number. No hearings or public consultations into the policy are planned, with the majority CAQ government pointing to the mandate it received in the October election.
Moreover, the 2019 Quebec Immigration Plan has been announced even though the governments of Quebec and Canada have yet to reach an agreement on how it will work. Quebec controls only part of the total number of new arrivals — that is, economic immigrants seeking employment or wishing to do business in Quebec. Family reunification and refugee intake remains under the purview of the federal government, though Quebec has mooted that it would like to take over jurisdiction of family reunification at some point; this is not mentioned in the 2019 Quebec Immigration Plan itself, but has been discussed between provincial ministers and their federal counterparts.
The 2019 Quebec Immigration Plan
Economic Quebec immigration applicants go through a two-step process. First, they must be eligible for and obtain a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec, or CSQ). This important document signifies that the applicant has been selected to settle in Quebec.
Quebec’s economic immigration programs include the Quebec Skilled Worker Program and Quebec Experience Program, as well as a trio of business immigration programs for investors, entrepreneurs, and self-employed persons.
Approved CSQ holders may apply to the federal government for Canadian permanent residence. The federal government is primarily concerned with health and criminality issues, rather than the human capital, skills, and experience factors for which the applicant has already been approved by the government of Quebec.
The 2019 Quebec Immigration Plan outlines the number of CSQs the Quebec government plans to issue, as well as the number of permanent residents it plans to admit. Because Quebec holds jurisdiction over economic immigration only, the number of CSQs issued is lower than the total number of immigrants who settle in Quebec, as the latter figures also include family reunification and refugee intake.
That being said, the number of CSQs to be issued is significantly lower than in recent years.
2019 Quebec Immigration Plan: CSQ targets
|Other economic immigrants||389||600||600-800|
2019 Quebec Immigration Plan: admissions targets
The total number of persons admitted to Quebec will decrease across the board, with cuts across economic categories, family sponsorship, and refugee intake.
|Immigration category||Sub-category||2018 (predicted)||2019|
|Other economic immigrants||900-1,000||600-800|
|Family reunification||All family reunification||11,300-11,700||8,900-9,400|
|Refugees||Selected abroad by the government of QC||1,500-1,600||1,150-1,200|
|Total selected by QC||71-72%||70-71%|
|Total proportion with French knowledge||42%||41%|
2019 Quebec Immigration Plan reaction
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, himself a Quebecer, raised questions about the timing of the 2019 Quebec Immigration Plan.
“What I hear from business people across Quebec is that companies are worried about a labour shortage. I’m not sure that this is the best moment to reduce the intake of newcomers,” he told reporters.
The federal government, in contrast, recently published its own Immigration Levels Plan for 2019 through to 2021, with ever-rising targets across all categories. Ottawa has said it will continue to hold discussions with the Quebec government on the immigration file, including defending the integrity of the family reunification program.
Want to immigrate to Quebec?
A 20 percent cut can also be read as an 80 percent retention. The Quebec immigration glass is four-fifths full, and you could benefit. Montreal, in particular, is a magnet for newcomers from around the world.