Immigration: Québec at a crossroads
Over the next few months, Québec will once again set its immigration levels for the coming years. The consultation, which will take place in August and September, aims to determine the number of immigrants who will be accepted, as well as to assess the province's current intake capacity. This does not include temporary foreign workers, but does take into account refugees and newcomers in the family reunification category.
Two proposals are on the table. First, to maintain the official level at 50,000 new immigrants per year. Second, to gradually increase the target to 60,000 in 2027. When you consider that the country as a whole will welcome some 450,000 immigrants over the next few years, Québec's targets seem unambitious, even unrealistic in these times of labour shortages.
Currently, Québec's business sector is calling on the province to welcome more immigrants, to maintain economic momentum and avoid service cuts from lack of workers. The public sector (health, education, community services) is following suit, as it also faces significant shortages.
The integration dilmemma
Given these demands, it will be interesting to see how the current government, which claims to be both nationalist and pro-economic development, will juggle the issue. In Québec, a large proportion of voters believe that immigration should begin with the French-speaking population, to facilitate integration. However, skilled labour pools in many French-speaking countries are limited. English-speaking Canada is less concerned about the language spoken by a newcomer, confident that work and the education system will be sufficient drivers of integration.
When you look at what Toronto, Vancouver and even Calgary have become, it's clear that opening up to more immigrants creates great opportunities. On the other hand, these cities don't face the same language challenges as Montréal or Québec City.
The importance of immigration to Québec's goals
Emotional reactions aside, the issue of immigration is essential to Québec and Canada. Newcomers are an increasingly important source of growth, new business development and labour. They are also changing the social landscape of the entire country. Québec, in the federation, is somewhat apart for linguistic and cultural reasons. However, it is not certain that the province can afford to risk missing the boat and seeing its demographic weight continue to decline in relation to the other provinces.
Québec often says it wants to compete economically with Ontario and be above the Canadian average in key economic indicators. It seems obvious to us that a higher immigration target must be part of that equation