Immigration to Quebec is going to be on another level - as the "La Belle Province” plans on inviting roughly 71,275 new permanent residents in 2022.
The numbers have soared up more than 41.7% from just 50,285 candidates being invited in 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Quebec’s Immigration Minister Jean Boulet downplayed this year’s boost in immigration to the province in an interview with the French-language Radio Canada television network.
Under pressure from business and industry organizations to dramatically expand Quebec's immigration targets – a move the Parti Quebecois opposes – Boulet described this year's surge in immigration as the government making up for losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quebec fell short of its immigration target by 18,775 permanent residents in 2020
“According to the multi-year plan, the number of immigrants admitted is limited to 52,500 new permanent residents per year," said Boulet in French.
However, Quebec was unable to accept the 44,000 new permanent residents allowed under that multi-year plan in 2020. That year, just 25,225 new permanent residents arrived in Quebec.
The 18,775 permanent residence gaps between those predicted under the 2020 immigration objective and those who arrived that year have now been added to Quebec's allocation for this year.
Because the previous shortfall is now being added to the 52,500 allotments for this year under the multi-year plan, immigration to Quebec is at an all-time high.
If that level of immigration to Quebec
materializes, the province will gain 20,990 new permanent residents this year compared to 2021.
Quebec Immigration Minister expecting higher temporary foreign worker numbers
The surge in immigration to Quebec coincides with the province's plans to hire more temporary foreign workers, up from the nearly 30,000 who worked in the province last year.
"With the simplified applications and the addition of numerous industries and trades that will benefit from expedited temporary immigration processing, there will undoubtedly be more (temporary foreign workers in Quebec) to satisfy the expectations of Quebec firms," said Boulet.
Business and industry organisations in Quebec petitioned the province earlier this month to nearly increase immigration to the province to address significant labour shortages.
Quebec is expected to welcome 80,000 immigrants each year, according to industry groups.
According to reports, Véronique Proulx, president of the Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Québec (MEQ) manufacturing and exporting sector association, has proposed that the province admit up to 90,000 immigrants every year.
"We recognise that labour shortages cannot be fixed in the blink of an eye and that reducing the impact of a labour shortfall will require a number of policies working in tandem," Proulx said in a statement in French.
MEQ and three other business associations, the Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ), the Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec (FCCQ), and the Fédération Canadienne de l'Entreprise Indépendante (FCEI), lobbied provincial political parties last week to take a series of measures to address the labour shortages.
One of them was immigration.
"With a Quebec provincial election coming up on or before Oct. 3," Proulx said, "it's critical for us to inform political parties about the importance of putting in place sound policies to develop the pool of employees and sustain Quebec's competitive advantage."
Parti Québécois wants to put brakes on immigration increases
However, the Parti Québécois (PQ) in the provincial legislature was opposed to any large-scale immigration increase.
Instead, PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon wants an immigration debate "based on science, not ideology or erroneous premises."
"Just asking concerns about boosting immigration quotas generates implications about the intolerance of individuals who are bringing them up," he reportedly remarked.
He believes that Quebec society must make its own decisions regarding immigration and determine whether or not increased immigration will increase income and per capita GDP.
In February, the PQ leader attempted to put a stop to immigration into the province.
St-Pierre Plamondon wrote to Quebec Premier François Legault after the federal government issued its 2022-2024 Levels Plan, which revealed Ottawa aims to accept 431,645 permanent residents this year, 447,055 next year, and 451,000 in 2024.
In that letter, the PQ leader warned that increased immigration from Quebec to the rest of Canada could erode the province's political weight.
"Quebec is already politically unimportant in the sense that winning over Quebec is no longer required to become Prime Minister of Canada," the separatist party's head reportedly said.
He added, “Given the fragile state of francophones in North America, the future is back for us if we remain a part of Canada as – being a part of a political structure that no longer needs to consider our interest to wield power, in the view of the history of imperialism and colonialism in Canada towards francophones and indigenous people.”