The debate over the CAQ's immigration reforms is ramping up at the National Assembly, where the government is defending the roll out and accusing the opposition Liberals of running a fear campaign.

Ever since the CAQ tabled Bill 9 last week, there's been frustration and confusion at Question Period, where the subject has been dominating the discussion.

Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette blames the Liberals.

“It's about what the Liberal Party does, and what Mrs. Anglade did. It's about the fact that they are doing a fear campaign,” he said.

Liberal immigration critic Dominique Anglade isn't backing down.

“People don't realize the impact it has on the human level,” she said.

The CAQ plans to toss out 18,000 outstanding immigration applications, forcing people to re-apply, while the ministry reforms the system.

Anglade accused the CAQ of using stall tactics to meet its goal of reducing immigration levels this year.

“It's completely driven by the objective of not going over 40,000. So, what he's saying right now is: I'm stopping everything. Probably for no reason, you stop everything, and then you wait, you wait, you wait, and then you are under 40,000. That's the whole strategy. It's very cynical,” she said.

The CAQ said the end goal is to process applications more quickly and match newcomers with job opportunities that are the right fit, creating a win-win for immigrants and employers -- a view many now left in limbo don't appear to share.

Both the Liberals and Quebec Solidaire say their MNAs have been flooded with phone calls and emails at their riding offices from applicants in distress.

“A woman called us and cried on the phone because she said she had invested so much time and energy, and she doesn't understand what's going on. She doesn't know what to do anymore,” said Anglade.

Quebec Solidaire immigration critic Andres Fontecilla called on Jolin-Barrette to backtrack, saying the reform is “inhuman” and “cruel.”

On Tuesday, Jolin-Barrette sent a directive to civil servants, telling them to get in touch with all 18,000 applicants to let them know how to proceed.

“If they talk French and they have a job right now, since the last 12 months, they can apply to the program,” he said.

Jolin-Barrette said those who meet the criteria will be fast-tracked through the system.

“It's online, on the website of the ministry. They can apply, and they will receive their Quebec Selection Certification inside of 20 days,” he said.