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Research group criticizes Quebec's immigration plan
A Montreal-based research group says the Quebec government's plan to limit the number of immigrants is not based on any concrete reasoning.
The CAQ government wants to reduce the number of immigrants arriving in Quebec, cutting the annual number from 50,000 to 40,000.
It also wants the 18,000 applicants still being processed to have to start again as the government draws up new criteria for immigration applications.
Immigration and Diversity Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette has said repeatedly that the government's goal is to devote more provincial resources to make sure that immigrants integrate well into Quebec society.
However Julia Posca of IRIS, the socio-economic data and research institute, says that growing numbers of immigrants are already doing that, and have been doing so for years.
"The problem is not with the way we choose immigrants. The problem is that there are obstacles to better integration of immigrants," said Posca.
Data from Quebec's Ministry of Immigration and Diversity shows the number of immigrants who spoke French was at its lowest point around 1980, when it was about 30 percent.
Since then the number of immigrants who speak French before they arrive has doubled and at times has approached 70 percent of immigrants.
Her earlier research shows that Quebec employers are often reluctant to hire immigrants.
"We can talk about recognition of diplomas, recognition of work experience, and we can talk about also discrimination that some immigrants face. Those are real problems that impede immigrants from jobs they are qualified for," said Posca.
Statistics Canada shows that employment numbers for immigrants have also improved in Quebec over the past decade.
At its low point, in 2009, just 70 percent of immigrants to Quebec (ages 25 to 54) were employed, compared to about 75 percent of immigrants across Canada, and about 82 percent of native-born Quebecers.
Since then employment for immigrants has jumped to about 78 percent. The employment rate for immigrants across Canada is about 79 percent, while for native-born Quebecers it's about 86 percent.
Posca said that shows instead of reducing the number of immigrants, the government should instead devote funding to the Ministries of Labour, Education, and other groups to improve French language skills.