CAQ government would permit 10,000 fewer immigrants to Quebec per year
A Coalition Avenir Quebec government would permit 20 per cent fewer immigrants into the province, according to a policy unveiled on Tuesday morning ahead of the National Assembly’s fall session.
Under the CAQ plan, 40,000 new arrivals would be permitted per year. The current number is 51,000.
Leader Francois Legault announced the policy during the last day of the party’s caucus meetings in St. Jerome, days before the National Assembly's fall session begins.
Legault cited immigration budgets not keeping up with the number of newcomers as a reason for the policy and said immigrants are poorly integrated into the province, with high unemployment levels and insufficient levels of French fluency.
“The Liberal party since 2003 didn't invest enough in the integration. They've increased the number of immigrants by 25 per cent but the budgets only increased by 5 per cent,” he said.
"I think we have to protect the economy. It's not good to see the unemployment rate at 18 per cent. But we have to protect our identity, also," he said. "I think we have to stop putting one against the other. For the last 40 years, we had a Liberal party that said our only economic plan is to be against a sovereign plan. That's not an economic plan. We need an economic plan and we need to have all Quebecers supporting this economic plan."
Une mesure responsable et nécessaire pour une intégration réussie des nouveaux arrivants à la société québécoise https://t.co/KoocYZ9BDn— Nathalie Roy (@NathalieRoyCAQ) August 30, 2016
In the past, Premier Philippe Couillard has mentioned increasing the number of immigrants allowed into Quebec. Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said the number would hold steady in 2017 and 2018 at 51,000 and rise to 52,500 in 2019.
Weil dismissed the CAQ position.
“With his plan he's really hitting at the heart of economic immigration and I'm not sure he understands it that's why it's not an economic plan at all, because he's talking about reducing the number of qualified workers and that's what we have a need for,” she said. “We are sensitive to unemployment rates being higher so we have strategies to attack that, to better recognize people's credentials.”
On Monday, Legault said he would introduce a values test for new immigrants which could affect their ability to gain citizenship. The test would gauge a newcomer's opinion on topics such as equality of men and women. The proposal caused Couillard and members of Quebec Solidaire to compare Legault to American presidential candidate Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, Legault dismissed the criticism, saying Couillard needs to address immigration issues in a calm fashion.
“I think Mr. Couillard doesn't want to see the reality and that's why he's throwing insults at me,” said Legault.
- With files from The Canadian Press