According to its Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, Quebec is set for a major re-structuring of its immigration policies. The new policies are said to be pro-market and is inspired by similar policy changes made in Ottawa. A year-long public consultation on this issue is underway at the Quebec Legislature.
Minister Kathleen says that the focus will now be on filling up jobs and every applicant for Canadian immigration will have to produce a “declaration of interest” showing his or her ability to meet the market requirement. Emphasis would be given to balance the recruitment of new immigrants with the need in the market keeping the Quebec economy in mind.
Uneven Distribution of Workforce
Around 50,000 foreigners move to Quebec every year. But the majority are from Africa. Between 2009 -2013, one in five immigrants was from either Algeria or Morocco. It was noted that almost half of those who arrived at Quebec (43%) did not have a working knowledge of French. For the new immigrants to find new jobs and to smoothly integrate into the society they must have an “adequate level of French”, says the Minster.
Unemployment of new immigrants in Quebec was about 11.6% in the year 2013 (4% higher than that of the general population), despite the fact that 57% of those unemployed immigrants were well educated. This proves that the present system is unable to effectively distribute the workforce according to the market needs.
Another issue Ms Kathleen would like to address, with the help of local Mayors, is the uneven distribution of the work force across the provinces. Ms Kathleen wishes to enable the new immigrants to be equally distributed across different provinces as most of them are now settling down in the Greater Montreal area.
Policy Changes to Keep up with Competition
After these discussions Ms. Kathleen will produce a new immigration policy bill that will “modernize” the current law, which she described as “really outdated”. At a time when things are “much more competitive” than in the past these changes are all the more important, she said.
From the number of immigrants welcomed annually to the importance of knowing the French language, everything related to the issue would be discussed. The Minister is looking forward to a detailed discussion on each issue and said she is open to every proposal. Issues like the recognition of foreign training, favored country of origin, regionalisation, sharing of common values, etc., would also be discussed.
Stakeholders and Employers to Participate
In the next few weeks, fifty stakeholders will participate in public consultations regarding the future of Quebec immigration. These would soon be followed by discussions on two specific issues: the number of immigrants to be allowed each year and the countries that would be favored.
Even employers from different sectors will be invited for the discussions to define their workforce needs. They are expected to provide an ideal worker profile according to their needs. Candidates with diplomas and other relevant certificates would be preferred for professional jobs.
Ms Kathleen says that these changes can be incorporated with “the full participation of each and every member of Quebec society”.