Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil announced on January 21, 2015 that the government will be launching major reforms to Quebec’s 25 year old immigration policy this year.
These changes are based on previous reforms Ottawa launched back in 2014 and particular emphasis will be placed on welcoming new immigrants into the Quebec job market.
Changes to Quebec’s immigration law will involve a wide range of issues that the Immigration Ministry has faced over the years such as the number of immigrants welcomed annually, the selection process and favoured countries of origin, the importance of knowing French before arriving, French language courses, the recognition of training undertaken abroad, and the sharing of common values.
Minister Weil set discussions on these immigration reforms to begin this Wednesday, January 28th, at the Quebec legislature. In the next few weeks, fifty stakeholders will be participating in various public consultation hearings. Later in the reform process, specific attention will be placed on two important issues to Quebec immigration – the number of immigrants Quebec wishes to welcome annually and the countries of origins of these immigrants.
Another issue that will earn greater emphasis is gaining new immigrants that specialize in industries that the Quebec workforce needs. In doing so, Quebec will be looking to Ottawa for inspiration as Ottawa worked on finding candidates to fill their empty jobs last year. This is further inspired by the fact that finding a job is one of the biggest challenges for new immigrants in Quebec today. Minister Weil explained that “it remains a huge frustration for people who come from other countries with quality baggage and we have to find way a for people to contribute.”
In order to achieve this, employers in various sectors in Quebec will be asked to define their workforce needs and professional associations will be asked to improve their recognition of workers with foreign diplomas.
Ms. Weil also emphasized that the requirement that immigrants have “an adequate level of French” prior to arriving to Quebec will also be on the table in these reforms. Currently, upon arriving to Quebec, almost half of all immigrants (43 percent) do not speak French. Finally, placing immigrants in areas outside of the greater Montreal area will also be a priority as three out of four new immigrants currently settle in the greater Montreal area.
Following public discussions, a new immigration policy and corresponding action plan will be produced this fall. Minister Weil explained that this bill would aim to “modernize” the current “really outdated” policies in place.
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