Quebec Immigration Changes Scraps Thousands of Immigrant Applications
While Canada has earned a reputation for welcoming newcomers with open arms, the Province of Quebec is pushing back with its own new rules on immigration, leaving the fates of tens of thousands of immigrants hanging in the balance.
The Quebec National Assembly recently passed Bill 9, which grants the provincial government increased authority over who receives permanent residency in Quebec, and the ability to launch a new immigrant selection system called Arrima. The government is also working on setting up an online portal to connect employers with potential workers by February 2020.
While Arrima is said to reduce applicants' waiting time, implementing this new system will allow the province to cancel immigration applications that were already in process from around 18,000 skilled workers, forcing them to start the process all over again.
Including the applicants’ families, it’s estimated that the new measures will impact around 50,000 people looking to immigrate to Quebec.
The new legislation also outlines the framework for a "values test" that applicants would have to pass in order to become a permanent resident. The test has yet-to-be-determined as it requires approval from the federal government before it can be imposed.
According to CBC, Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette claimed the intention of the legislation was to change "the immigration system in the public interest, because we have to make sure that we have an immigration tied to the needs of the labour market.”
Premier Francois Legault also defended the bill, insisting that the new measures will help fulfill the needs of Quebec’s job market.
Opposition parties, on the other hand, have denounced the ruling Coalition Avenir Quebec Party, describing the measure as “extreme and undemocratic.”
In comparison to the rest of Canada, the province of Quebec has additional powers when it comes to immigration, characterized by the federal government as a “special agreement.”
This allows the province to carry out its own screening process using criteria like French fluency to select immigrants it feels will adapt well to living in Quebec.
Once chosen, applicants are able to apply for permanent residency with the federal government. Some exceptions are in place for refugees, along with family members of Canadian citizens.
Besides the new immigration legislation, Quebec has also come under fire over the controversial Bill 21, commonly known as the ‘niqab ban.’ The recently passed secularism legislation makes it illegal for any public servants to wear religious symbols such as the hijab or niqab on the job. The provincial government will enforce the ban through surveillance and disciplinary mechanisms, which has been labelled by opponents as a secularism police force.