Quebec's new immigration system favours skilled workers, but still needs overhaul, says business leader
Skilled workers will now be fast-tracked to address Quebec’s labour shortage as the province's new immigration policy comes into effect, but business leaders say it still needs an overhaul to address economy shortcomings.
As of Thursday, Quebec is setting aside its first-come-first-serve system, which involved a bureaucrat fully reviewing each application.
Instead, applicants will fill out a declaration of intent online and if they meet current economic needs, they'll be invited to apply for selection certificates.
“We will have a new system which will now allow us to pre-screen people who want to come and will evaluate these people based on what their work experience is, and what they bring to the table in terms of work experience and the system will allow us to match these people with our needs,” explained Immigration Minister David Heurtel.
The new system means that, for example, if there is a need for construction welders in Abitibi, in theory those candidates would be found in a matter of months, instead of two or three years as it stands right now.
There are currently about 100,000 jobs that need to be filled in the province, an issue employers have been sounding the alarm on for several years.
The Canadian Federation of Small businesses said the new policy is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.
After this pre-screening, immigrants will still have to meet a series of other criteria, including their knowledge of French and their education.
Quebec currently accepts many more highly educated immigrants than those with a high-school-level education, which is what small businesses in the regions are looking for right now.
The federation said it has specifically told Quebec what it needs and that this policy misses the mark.
“We were consulted all the way in that process and we hammered all the way that we needed to change the scoring matrix. Still, we are at the end of the process and the matrix has not changed. I think it’s the next step that we have to take and that’s an urgent matter,” said Bruno Leblanc, the director of Quebec affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
The goal in the future, he said, has to involve overhauling this grading system, as well as and cutting red tape for employers trying to recruit abroad, because it is currently costing Quebec's economy.
“We still have 100,000 job vacancies in Quebec, so that means that entrepreneurs are refusing contracts, entrepreneurs are putting investments on ice and we are not capturing growth opportunities in the province because we don’t have enough people to fill the vacancies,” he said.