New study calls on Quebec to restore annual immigration target to 50,000

A new study is calling on Quebec’s government to restore its immigration target of 50,000 newcomers a year.

The study by the independent Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques (IRIS) contends that the government’s justification for reducing its immigration target for 2019 to 40,000 — that too many new arrivals are not integrating into Quebec society — “has never been established scientifically.”

The study follows a series of controversial moves by the province’s new Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government, including its recent effort to dismiss a backlog of just over 18,000 pending Quebec Skilled Worker Program applications as part of a proposed overhaul of the province’s immigration laws known as Bill 9.

Written by researcher Julia Posca, the paper provides a statistical snapshot of indicators including mastery of French, education levels and employment rate to assess the CAQ’s claims that immigrants have been falling short in these areas.

In terms of language, the study points to statistics from both Quebec’s Immigration Ministry and the Institute de la statistique du Quebec that show nearly 60 per cent of immigrants admitted to Quebec already speak French or French and English by the time they arrive in the province.

Immigrants to Quebec are also better educated compared to non-immigrants, Posca writes. Among Quebecers aged 25 to 54, 42 per cent of immigrants have a certificate, diploma or university degree compared to 24.9 per cent of Quebec residents who were born in Canada.

As to employment, Posca said discrepancies persist between immigrants and Canadian-born residents of Quebec, but the gap is narrowing. The employment rate of Quebecers born in Canada was 86.6 per cent in 2018 compared to 78.9 per cent for immigrants, which Posca noted was slightly better than Ontario’s immigrant employment rate of 78.5 per cent.

“In summary, immigrants in Quebec master French as never before, are highly educated and participate massively in the labour market,” Posca writes.

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