ICYMI: Montreal aims to break down barriers for immigrants in the workplace

Once again, contrast between Montreal and the regions:

Mayor Valérie Plante stood in front of 10 red doors inscribed with messages like: “Let’s open doors to employment for them,” “We hold all the keys” and “We can all play a role.”

The life-size doors on display at Complexe Desjardins aim to illustrate the barriers that still face immigrants in the job market and to urge employers to hire them.

“Sixty per cent of immigrants arriving in Quebec choose to settle in Montreal but unfortunately, even today, the doors to employment are still mostly shut rather than open for immigrants,” said Plante, as she launched a month-long public awareness campaign with Shahir Guindi, national co-chair of the Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt law firm and chair of the board of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.

While unemployment is at a historic low of five per cent, it is much higher among newcomers, despite the fact that 40 per cent of immigrants are university educated and 10 per cent hold graduate degrees, Plante said.

Montreal ranks fifth among the North American metropolitan regions that attract the most immigrants, according to Canadian and U.S. immigration numbers. However, it lags behind other Canadian cities in helping them integrate and find jobs.

The unemployment rate among newcomers to Montreal was 9.8 per cent in 2016, compared with 5.9 per cent for residents who were born in Canada, according to the Canadian Index for Measuring Integration (CIMI), coordinated by the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS).

More than 22 per cent of immigrants in Montreal live below the poverty line, compared with 12 per cent of Canadian-born citizens, it shows.

Overall, the city ranks 30th out of 35 among Canadian cities for immigrants’ economic performance compared to the rest of the population, according to CIMI.

Plante said she met with about 50 business leaders and officials with the provincial immigration department last year to chart a strategy to improve outcomes for newcomers.

The awareness campaign has support from 18 executives at the National Bank, Métro, Deloitte Canada, Mouvement Desjardins, as well as public or non-profit organizations like the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), Centraide and the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Its French-only website encourages employers to favour diversity in their workforces by making it a company value and requiring managers to implement inclusive policies. It also calls on average Montrealers in the workforce to become aware of their own prejudices and to reach out to immigrants in their work and social circles by sharing contacts and helping them with their CVs.

However, ACS president Jack Jedwab said that while the initiative was praiseworthy, it did not address the negative message the Quebec government has sent by reducing the number of immigrants to Montreal by 24 per cent in 2019 over the previous year.

“We should do what we need to do to encourage and help people to improve their skills, so that they are in line with the needs of the economy,” he said.

“But the bigger messaging from the government isn’t as positive,” Jedwab noted.

The Coalition Avenir Québec government’s rationale for slashing immigration despite the current labour shortage was that newcomers are not integrating sufficiently into Quebec society, he said.

“You are sending a message that suggests that there is a problem out there,” he said.

Greater Montreal received 28,900 immigrants in the first 10 months of 2019, the last period for which numbers are available, compared to 38,315 for the corresponding period in 2018, Jedwab said.

The city received a total of 43,795 newcomers in 2018 and 44,725 in 2017, he said.

In 2019, Vancouver surpassed Montreal for the first time as a destination for newcomers, with 34,095 immigrants from January to October 2019. It received 35,265 immigrants in 2018 and 29,830 immigrants in 2017.

Toronto received 102,965 immigrants in the first 10 months of 2019. The number of newcomers was 106,460 in 2018 and 86,580 in 2017.

“Toronto is reaping a lot of the benefits of immigration in terms of its economy,” Jedwab said, noting that immigration “is the single source of growth for our population.”

In Toronto, the unemployment rate among immigrants in 2016 was 7.5 per cent, compared with 7.7 per cent among the Canadian-born population. However, immigrants in Toronto had higher rates of poverty than the native-born population, with 19 per cent of newcomers living below the poverty line compared with 11 per cent of people born in Canada.

Source: Montreal aims to break down barriers for immigrants in the workplace

New Brunswick population growth strategy seeks big boost in immigration

Common to most Atlantic provinces along with the Atlantic Immigration Pilot:

New Brunswick is aiming to more than triple the number of immigrants to the province, hoping to reach 7,500 a year by 2024.

The goal of bringing the annual immigration intake to about one per cent of the province’s population is included in a new five-year provincial government population growth strategy and action plan released today.

In addition to attracting new immigrants, the strategy seeks to ensure newcomers remain in the province, targeting a one-year retention rate of 85 per cent by 2024.

The province will also seek a greater proportion of French-speaking immigrants.

The Progressive Conservative government says its goal is to attract skilled workers and entrepreneurs to align with New Brunswick’s labour market needs, while creating an environment in which newcomers can settle and succeed

Labour Minister Trevor Holder says population growth is crucial to the future success of the province.

“The attraction and retention of new Canadians is critical to helping us increase our province’s population and meet the needs of our employers,” Holder said in a news release.

Moncef Lakouas, president of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, said the strategy delivers ambitious goals that will lead to economic growth and prosperity.

“When newcomers are fully included in all aspects of society, they become partners in growing our economy and enriching the social and cultural life of our province,” Lakouas said.

Through a strategy released by the previous Liberal government, the number of immigrants who came to New Brunswick each year was increased from 625 to 2,291 between 2014 and 2017. The province’s target this year is 2,100.

With roughly 770,000 people, New Brunswick has the third smallest population in Canada. The new strategy points out that between 2013 and 2018, it was second last among the provinces and territories in population growth at 1.6 per cent.

It says significant interprovincial migration loss, particularly among youth, and low birth rates are restricting the province’s ability to grow.

“International migration is a key strategy to lessen the impact of this decline,” the strategy document says.

From 2018 to 2027, New Brunswick is forecast to have about 120,000 job openings, and approximately 13,000 of those will require workers from outside the province, because not all of the jobs can be filled by local labour.

Source: New Brunswick population growth strategy seeks big boost in immigration

Seuils d’immigration: autre affrontement à prévoir à Québec

The immigration levels debate in Quebec. One of the ironies is that reduced Quebec levels will further reduce the overall importance of Quebec, politically and economically, in Canada.

Not necessarily a valid reason to maintain high levels but a longer term impact that needs to be recognized. One can, of course, question Canadian high levels without being xenophobic or racist:

Un autre affrontement est à prévoir lundi entre la Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) et le Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ) sur l’immigration.

Plus tôt cette année, les deux partis avaient jeté les gants durant l’étude du projet de loi 9, qui visait à réformer le système d’immigration, jusqu’à ce que le gouvernement Legault finisse par adopter la loi sous bâillon.

Cette fois-ci, il sera question des seuils d’immigration, ou du nombre d’immigrants que le Québec admettra sur son territoire d’ici 2022. Déjà, le porte-parole du PLQ en matière d’immigration, Monsef Derraji, s’insurge contre un plan « incohérent », « illogique » et « électoraliste ».

Le Plan d’immigration du Québec, qui sera à l’étude dès lundi, prévoit l’admission en 2019 de 40 000 personnes immigrantes au Québec, ce qui constitue une diminution de plus de 20 % dans chacune des catégories d’immigration.

Le gouvernement dit s’allouer une pause cette année pour améliorer les services de francisation et d’intégration, après quoi il entend augmenter progressivement le nombre d’immigrants admis pour atteindre 49 500 à 52 500 personnes en 2022. Il souhaite alors que la proportion de personnes admises dans la catégorie de l’immigration économique soit de l’ordre de 65 %.

Pour M. Derraji, il ne fait aucun doute que ces seuils sont trop bas, surtout dans un contexte de pénurie de main-d’oeuvre « extrême ». Emploi-Québec estime que plus de 1,4 million d’emplois seront à pourvoir au Québec au cours de la période 2017-2026.

Son parti prône plutôt le retour immédiat aux seuils qui existaient avant l’élection de la CAQ, soit environ 52 000 immigrants admis par année. « Moi, je pense qu’il y a une mauvaise foi derrière ça, a-t-il déclaré en entrevue à La Presse canadienne dans un bureau du parlement. Je pense que ce gouvernement a de la misère, ou il n’est pas à l’aise avec l’immigration, moi c’est juste ça que je vois.

“Ce sont des PME en région qui vont refuser des contrats et parfois c’est du temps supplémentaire pour des employés qui ne vont pas avoir de vacances pour aller se reposer parce qu’ils doivent livrer la marchandise », s’est-il indigné.

La question des seuils d’immigration a toujours été émotive à Québec, les partis ayant tous leur petite idée sur ce dont la province a besoin pour se développer et s’épanouir en français.

Le débat qui s’amorce lundi en commission parlementaire, et qui s’étirera sur quatre jours, ne fera pas exception. Au total, 31 groupes ont été invités à y prendre part, dont le Conseil du patronat et le Haut Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés.

Lors des échanges, M. Derraji demandera entre autres au gouvernement de produire les études qui l’auraient mené à trancher pour 40 000 immigrants en 2019. Il soupçonne qu’il n’y en a guère.

« C’est un ” check ” d’une promesse électorale, on a dit aux gens qu’on va baisser les seuils à 40 000, mais il n’y a aucune assise logique ou économique qui démontre que le gouvernement avait raison de baisser les seuils. Moi je veux bien qu’il nous dévoile ça », a-t-il insisté.

« C’est de l’incohérence depuis le début. Je cherche encore de la cohérence, il n’y a aucune cohérence, a-t-il renchéri. La logique, c’est de revenir aux mêmes seuils qu’on avait, parce qu’on ne répond à aucun besoin des entreprises. »

QS outré

De son côté, Québec solidaire (QS) dit également s’attendre à un débat tendu la semaine prochaine. Son porte-parole Sol Zanetti blâme la CAQ de n’avoir rien fait depuis 10 mois pour enrayer les préjugés contre les immigrants.

Il précise que QS est également en faveur d’un retour immédiat à un seuil d’environ 52 000 immigrants admis chaque année.

« Quand la CAQ avait promis en campagne électorale de baisser les seuils d’immigration, on sentait qu’il voulait aller chercher un électorat qui sentait l’immigration comme étant un danger et potentiellement une menace, a-t-il déclaré en entrevue téléphonique vendredi. Là, on voit qu’ils ont réduit les seuils, mais que là, déjà, ils constatent que c’était peut-être quelque chose d’électoraliste et que ce n’était pas une bonne idée pour le Québec de le faire. »

En promettant de rehausser les seuils d’immigration dès l’an prochain, le gouvernement a fait « un aveu d’erreur », selon M. Zanetti.

Marc-André Gosselin, l’attaché de presse du ministre de l’Immigration Simon Jolin-Barrette, a envoyé par courriel une déclaration en fin de journée : « Nous allons écouter avec attention les différents arguments avancés lors de la consultation publique et nous déposerons ensuite un plan triennal d’ici le 1er novembre ».

Source: Seuils d’immigration: autre affrontement à prévoir à Québec

If you think less immigration will solve Australia’s problems, you’re wrong; but neither will more

Similar analysis could apply to Canada and interesting approach to benchmark against the UN agreed Sustainable Development Goals:

Are we letting too many or too few migrants into Australia?

For 2019-20 the Australian government has cut the annual net migrant intake from 190,000 to 160,000. It’s a political decision, balancing the concerns of those who want much lower or higher immigration levels for a mix of social, environmental and economic reasons.

It’s an unsatisfactory and ad-hoc balancing act. Could there be more “science” in these decisions?

We’ve sought to come up with an evidence-based method to gauge the effects of migration. To do so we’ve used the internationally accepted framework for development planning, the Sustainable Development Goals. The goals cover major aspects of economic, social and environmental well-being, from decent jobs and quality education to good health and clean water.

We investigated three population scenarios: one similar to Australia’s recent annual level of net migration (about 200,000 a year); one much lower (about 70,000 a year); and one much higher (about 300,000 a year).

What our results show, perhaps surprisingly, and more by luck than design, is that recent levels of immigration seem to be in a “goldilocks zone” that balances economic, social and environmental objectives.

Our results also suggest migration is neither the problem nor solution in many areas where Australia is off-track, from government debt to environmental action.

Balancing competing agendas

Immigration policy is Australia’s de facto population policy. With the birthrate just keeping up with deaths, it’s migration that drivespopulation growth. It’s why in 2018 the population passed 25 million, years earlier than previously predicted.

Annual migration intake is set as part of the the annual budget cycle. The government treats it primarily as a short-term economic issue. But population growth has long-term impacts on many sectors, from health and education to infrastructure and housing. Population growth, particularly through urban expansion, increases pressures on the natural environment.

Ideally, therefore, decisions about migration numbers and population growth should synch with long-term planning at the state and local levels to avoid service shortages, urban sprawl, vehicle congestion and infrastructure shortfalls.

The question remains about how to make evidence-based policy that balances deeply divided views. Some strongly support high net migration due to the important role population growth plays in managing an ageing population. Others argue equally forcefully for reducing migration because it places a burden on infrastructure, services and the environment.

Using the sustainable development goals

To negotiate these differences, we chose the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals cover long-term targets in 17 major areas of economic prosperity, social justice and environmental sustainability. All member states of the UN, including Australia, have agreed to them as a shared blueprint to achieve by 2030.


The 17 Sustainable Development Goals. United Nations

Each goal area includes multiple specific targets – 169 in all. For example, Goal 11 (“Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”) includes the targets of adequate, safe and affordable housing and affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems.

Countries are not required to adopt all targets, but focus on those appropriate. We chose 52 targets relevant to Australia, covering all 17 goals and ensuring a reasonable balance of economic, social and environmental priorities.

 

Using advanced modelling capabilities, we tested how achieving the targets by 2030 might be affected by different population sizes.

Overall, not a huge difference

The following chart shows our results in a single graphic. For our low-migration scenario, Australia’s population in 2030 is 27.3 million; for the moderate, 28.9 million; and for the high, 30.6 million.


How low, moderate and high population scenarios affect Australian’s performance on the Sustainable Development Goals.The authors

Only in two goal areas – education, clean water and sanitation – do our results show Australia doing better than 85% achievement by 2030 under all three scenarios. Only in another three – health, gender equality and energy – do we do better than 50%.

All scenarios had equal effect on eliminating poverty (Goal 1). However, the low-migration scenario did better for achieving food security and improving nutrition (Goal 2).

Perhaps surprisingly, for decent work and economic growth (Goal 8), the middle scenario scored the best.

In the centre of the chart are the overall scores of each scenario.

The high-migration scenario (39.4% progress towards all targets) is the lowest , but not by much. There is almost no difference between maintaining recent migration levels (40.5%) and significanly slashing the migration intake (40.6%).

This suggests that, on an equal balance across a broad set of competing objectives, recent historic levels may be about right.

However, these results brush over the range of trade-offs between different targets – some of which may be considered more important than others.

Compared against the low scenario, for example, the high scenario results in an estimated 1.7 million extra vehicles on the roads, increased water consumption (~600 million m3), greater urban sprawl (~60,000 ha), and higher greenhouse gas emissions (~15 million tons CO2-equivalent).

Poor performance in many areas

What is perhaps most striking is that, regardless of the population scenario, Australia isn’t tracking well on most measures of sustainable development. Other studies have concluded the same.

As already noted, Australia is doing well on health, education and water quality. But it’s performing poorly on climate action (Goal 13) and responsible consumption (Goal 12), to name just two.

Broadly accepted frameworks to measure progress and weigh policy decisions in contested areas is something we lack across the policy board.

Finding new drivers of job creation, addressing infrastructure needs, and tackling climate change are just some of the complex challenges Australia faces.

Ad-hoc, short-term approaches to addressing them are unlikely to often deliver optimal outcomes. Combining clear targets, a long-term perspective and advances in modelling might help.

Source: If you think less immigration will solve Australia’s problems, you’re wrong; but neither will more

Étude sur l’immigration: à la recherche d’un seuil… inexistant

Good and interesting study, using scenarios to capture some of the nuances in relation to choices over immigration levels. And the sensible recommendation to move towards a multi-year plan, with annual adjustments as needed, as was introduced by the federal government a few years back:

Les chefs de parti en ont débattu pendant toute la campagne électorale. Les économistes le cherchent partout. La vérité, c’est que le seuil magique du nombre d’immigrants à accueillir au Québec, à couler dans le béton pour qu’on n’en parle plus, eh bien, il n’existe pas, concluent les auteurs de l’étude Seuils d’immigration au Québec : analyse des incidences démographiques et économiques.

Pour en finir avec le débat dogmatique

En fait, les pénuries de main-d’oeuvre changent à ce point la donne – et améliorent tellement l’intégration en emploi des immigrants ces dernières années – qu’on erre complètement si on essaie sérieusement d’y aller de prédictions de seuils optimaux qui tiendraient la route pendant plusieurs années, résume en entrevue Mia Homsy, directrice générale de l’Institut du Québec.

« On se retrouve devant une question tout en nuances qui ne peut pas se régler par un débat dogmatique de chiffres », insiste-t-elle.

Selon l’étude, « le gouvernement devra avoir l’ouverture de revoir les seuils d’immigration à la hausse sans tergiverser », si les immigrants continuent de s’intégrer au marché du travail comme ils le font ces années-ci.

Les scénarios étudiés

Ce n’est pas que les chercheurs de l’Institut du Québec n’ont pas essayé de le trouver eux aussi, ce fameux chiffre. Ils ont étudié quatre scénarios : d’abord, à des fins de comparaison, celui d’un Québec sans immigration, qui fermerait ses portes ; ensuite, celui du seuil de 40 000 immigrants en 2019 (et de 54 000 en 2040) ; troisième scénario, celui d’un seuil de 53 000 immigrants en 2019 et de 71 000 en 2040 ; enfin, celui d’un Québec très ouvert, qui accueillerait 103 000 immigrants en 2040*.

Ils ont ensuite étudié l’impact de chaque seuil sur la démographie, puis sur l’économie (le PIB réel, la croissance du PIB réel par habitant et la proportion des dépenses en soins de santé par rapport aux recettes fiscales).

Il leur est arrivé ce qui déplaît souvent aux chercheurs (et aux journalistes) : un résultat mi-figue, mi-raisin.

« Ce qui nous a étonnés, c’est qu’il n’y avait pas beaucoup de différences entre les divers scénarios », dit Mia Homsy, directrice générale de l’Institut du Québec

La pénurie qui change tout

Aux fins de leur étude, les chercheurs se sont basés sur des hypothèses du Conference Board du Canada. Elles sont notamment fondées, écrivent les auteurs, sur des tendances selon lesquelles, par exemple, les nouveaux arrivants du Québec rencontreraient les mêmes obstacles sur le marché du travail que les cohortes d’immigrants précédentes.

Ainsi, en se basant sur ces modèles, les chercheurs en sont arrivés à la conclusion qu’un plus grand nombre d’immigrants plombe le PIB par habitant. C’est même avec le scénario d’un Québec sans aucun immigrant que la croissance annuelle du PIB réel par habitant serait la plus élevée, soit de 1,4 % pour la période allant de 2019 à 2040.

Le hic, constatent les auteurs après avoir calculé le tout, c’est que les modèles traditionnels ne tiennent plus. La discrimination traditionnelle dont les immigrants étaient victimes et qui minait le PIB par habitant est de moins en moins présente. La personne au nom étranger, qui n’était jamais appelée en entrevue il y a à peine quelques années, a soudainement pris beaucoup de valeur.

Un chiffre entre tous, cité dans l’étude, en témoigne tout particulièrement, dit Mme Homsy.

Chez les immigrants arrivés il y a de 5 à 10 ans, « le taux de chômage a chuté, passant de 12,7 % en 2009 à 6,7 % en 2018 ».

Les vraies conclusions à tirer

Que faire, alors ? Déterminer le fameux seuil d’immigrants à accueillir « en fonction de notre capacité à les intégrer sur le marché du travail », peut-on lire dans l’étude.

« Plus l’intégration sera rapide et efficace, plus la contribution à l’économie et à la qualité de vie des habitants sera importante. Les seuils annuels d’immigration devraient donc être fortement liés à la capacité d’intégration des nouveaux arrivants au marché du travail québécois et être fréquemment ajustés. »

Autrement dit, insiste Mme Homsy, va pour le plan triennal que veut mettre en place le gouvernement, « mais tous les ans, il faudrait réévaluer ce seuil à la lumière de l’intégration réelle et ponctuelle des immigrants en emploi ».

Les correctifs à apporter

« Le gouvernement doit mettre les bouchées doubles pour pallier aux faiblesses du système actuel comme les délais et la lourdeur du processus de sélection des immigrants, les difficultés de la reconnaissance des qualifications et de l’expérience étrangères et les succès mitigés de la francisation », peut-on lire dans l’étude.

Alors que la population vieillit et que la main-d’oeuvre se fait rare, « il faut plus que jamais tout mettre en oeuvre pour que les progrès récemment observés se poursuivent et permettent enfin à l’immigration de déployer son plein potentiel ».

* Les chiffres ont été choisis en se basant sur différentes proportions d’immigrants (0 %, 12 %, 15 % et 23 %) que le Québec accueillerait par rapport à l’ensemble du Canada.

Source: Étude sur l’immigration: à la recherche d’un seuil… inexistant

An English summary can be found here: Should Quebec reduce immigration to 40,000 newcomers per year?

Québec songe à relever les seuils d’immigration dès 2020

That was fast.

In other words, the CAQ can claim that they delivered on their platform (for one year!) before apparently going back on it (to be fair, I prefer a change of position than stubbornly sticking to an ill-thought policy). Perhaps there is hope for the government to reconsider Bill 21 (Laïcité):

Face à des « besoins pressants et immédiats de main-d’oeuvre », le ministre Simon Jolin-Barrette évoque un rehaussement des seuils d’immigrationdès l’année prochaine.

Du haut de la tribune du Conseil des relations internationales de Montréal (CORIM), Jolin-Barrette s’est dit déterminé vendredi à accueillir quelque 40 000 immigrants au Québec au cours de l’année 2019, et ce, comme la Coalition avenir Québecl’avait promis en campagne électorale. « On a respecté notre engagement. C’était un pas de recul pour s’assurer de réformer notre système d’immigration, de le moderniser et de l’améliorer », s’est-il justifié devant un parterre de quelque 400 personnes rassemblées dans un hôtel du centre-ville de Montréal pour un déjeuner-causerie.

Cela dit, le ministre de l’Immigration a dit déjà envisager de tirer vers le haut le nombre de nouveaux arrivants admis au Québec.

Dans la Planification pluriannuelle de l’immigration 2020-2022, le gouvernement caquiste « établir[a] la façon dont la hausse graduelle des seuils [d’immigration] s’effectuera au cours des prochaines années », a-t-il annoncé lors du déjeuner-causerie organisé par le CORIM. Les cibles d’immigration des trois prochaines années seront débattues au Parlement, puis fixées par le gouvernement d’ici le 1er novembre prochain.

En plus d’élaborer la Planification pluriannuelle de l’immigration 2020-2022, M. Jolin-Barrette révisera la grille de sélection des travailleurs qualifiés en revoyant les points accordés notamment à la formation, l’expérience professionnelle, l’âge et les connaissances en français des candidats. « Nous voulons qu’elle reflète davantage nos besoins en matière d’immigration en assurant une meilleure adéquation entre les besoins du marché du travail et le profil des candidats », a dit M. Jolin-Barrette deux mois après le dépôt du projet de loi sur l’immigration (projet de loi 9) à l’Assemblée nationale.

Pour l’heure, il s’engage à « faciliter » et à « accélérer » l’admission de travailleurs temporaires au Québec. « Les travailleurs temporaires sont une solution à la « pénurie de main-d’oeuvre qui touche différentes régions du Québec », a-t-il fait valoir. « Nous avons bon espoir que ces personnes-là soient [deviennent des résidents permanents] », a-t-il ajouté. À ses yeux, le ministère de l’Immigration dispose désormais des ressources pour « les franciser, les intégrer ».

Immigration et laïcité : les parlementaires en ont plein les bras

Simon Jolin-Barrette s’est dit déterminé à faire adopter non seulement le projet de loi sur la laïcité de l’État, mais également le projet de loi sur l’immigration par l’Assemblée nationale d’ici la mi-juin. « Si c’était uniquement de ma responsabilité, ce serait déjà fait [pour le projet de loi 9]. Mais vous savez comme le Parlement fonctionne : parfois, il y a de petites difficultés à adopter rapidement [un projet de loi] », a-t-il lancé.

Le jeune trentenaire a soutenu que les membres de l’Assemblée nationale ont l’« obligation de faire avancer » les projets de loi portés à leur attention. Cela dit, il n’a pas osé vendredi accuser ses adversaires libéraux, solidaires et péquistes d’obstruction.

L’examen — article par article — du projet de loi sur l’immigration s’amorcera prochainement devant la commission des relations avec les citoyens. Le projet de loi sur la laïcité de l’État fera pour sa part l’objet de consultations particulières devant une autre commission parlementaire.

« On est à deux mois et demi de la fin de la session. Il serait inopportun pour les collègues de l’opposition officielle, ou même de Québec solidaire, de dire qu’ils vont faire un barrage parlementaire. Nous, on est en démocratie. On travaille en collaboration avec les différents partis politiques. […] Il n’y a pas de raison qu’on ne réussisse pas à travailler ensemble », a dit le leader parlementaire du gouvernement à la presse.

Le hic : les élus de Québec solidaire (QS) veulent, à eux seuls, inviter pas moins de 62 groupes à partager leurs impressions en commission parlementaire sur le projet de loi 21.

Syndicats, commissions, régies, municipalités, avocats, agents correctionnels, services policiers et cadres : le parti a choisi de ratisser large, signe qu’il n’entend pas rendre la tâche du gouvernement facile. Le Devoir a obtenu la liste que les solidaires lui ont soumise plus tôt cette semaine.

« L’idée est de donner la parole aux gens touchés par la loi qui n’ont pas encore été entendus », a expliqué l’attachée de presse de l’aile parlementaire de QS, Simone Lirette.

Cela inclut les organismes qui auront à appliquer la loi, comme la Commission de protection du territoire agricole, la Régie de l’énergie, le Tribunal administratif du travail et l’Alliance des cadres de l’État.

Les trois partis d’opposition ont envoyé leur liste de témoins au gouvernement et attendent une réponse. Le Parti libéral et le Parti québécois ont refusé de la partager. Le gouvernement espère en arriver à un compromis sur le nombre d’invitations.

Le Mouvement laïque québécois a confirmé au Devoir vendredi qu’il sera invité à témoigner par le bureau du ministre Jolin-Barrette. La Fédération des comités de parents a également été invitée, mais elle a décliné, préférant s’abstenir de commenter un projet de loi qui touche les conditions de travail du personnel scolaire.

Le premier ministre, François Legault, a répété à plusieurs reprises qu’il souhaitait que le projet de loi sur la laïcité de l’État soit adopté d’ici la fin des travaux parlementaires pour la relâche estivale le 14 juin… quitte à utiliser le bâillon.

Trudeau offers to work with Legault on a temporary reduction in immigration levels

My sympathy for additional funding for asylum seekers is tempered by the fact that the current Canada-Quebec agreement means a further increase despite the drop:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demonstrated a new willingness to help Quebec Premier François Legault temporarily reduce immigration to the province by more than 20 per cent, even as Ottawa promotes higher immigration as the key to a stronger economy.

Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Legault discussed immigration issues Thursday during a private meeting in Sherbrooke, Que., where the federal Liberal cabinet is meeting for a three-day retreat.

Ottawa’s readiness to work with Quebec on its lower targets marks a change in tone for Mr. Trudeau, who had criticized the idea last month.

The two governments agreed that senior ministers will meet later this month in Gatineau to work out a plan. The discussions will also aim to reach a deal on compensating Quebec for its costs related to settling refugee claimants who have crossed into the province from the United States between official points of entry.

More than 90 per cent of the thousands of people who have crossed into Canada between official points of entry over the past two years have done so at Roxham Road in southwestern Quebec near Champlain, N.Y.

The Quebec government is seeking $300-million in compensation from Ottawa, but Mr. Legault said Ottawa is only offering to cover $140-million.

Federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, who was in Thursday’s meeting with Mr. Legault, told reporters that reducing immigration at a time when many Quebec businesses are facing severe labour shortages will be a challenge.

“Squaring that circle isn’t going to be easy,” he said. “We recognize that the Quebec government made a commitment in their election to temporarily reduce immigration levels in Quebec. Immigration in Quebec is a shared jurisdiction. It’s not like in my province of New Brunswick. There is a long-standing agreement that we want to respect between Canada and Quebec.”

Under the terms of a 1991 Canada-Quebec deal on immigration, federal funding to help Quebec integrate immigrants will rise even as the province’s total intake of immigrants declines.

The federal government announced in November that it will gradually raise Canada’s national targets for annual immigration to 350,000 in 2021, from 310,000 this year. It is not clear how Quebec’s reductions will affect Ottawa’s national targets.

Mr. Trudeau did not speak with reporters after meeting with Mr. Legault, but the Premier confirmed that further discussions on immigration will take place soon in Gatineau.

“He didn’t say no,” Mr. Legault said following his meeting with the Prime Minister, in reference to his list of demands related to immigration. “He said he was thinking about it. What we want is before bringing the targets back up in the next few years, that we put in place a French test and a values test.”

Federal Liberals are in Quebec this week to build support ahead of the October federal election. Polls suggest the Liberal Party could pick up seats in the province, which could help offset potential losses in other parts of the country.

Several ministers, including Mr. LeBlanc and Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne, recently toured parts of Quebec to meet with business leaders ahead of the cabinet retreat. They said the clear message is that skills shortages are a major problem.

“Businesses in Drummondville earlier this week told me they’re literally refusing contracts and not accepting sales because they do not have enough employees to properly complete the contract,” said Mr. LeBlanc. “So you can imagine the multiplier effect of that over time, on the economic growth in Quebec, which frankly is something that’s very important for the whole country.”

Mr. Legault said the temporary reduction in immigration – which would apply equally to three categories: economic immigrants, family reunification and refugees – will give Quebec time to ensure that it is bringing in people with the right skills. He also said Quebec wants to ensure its immigrants can speak French and support Quebec values.

Quebec announced in December that it will reduce the number of newcomers to 40,000 in 2019, a 24-per-cent reduction from 2018 levels.

Advocates for immigrants and refugees have called Quebec’s plan cruel. Mr. LeBlanc said last month that Ottawa was “disappointed” by Quebec’s new targets.

Source: Trudeau offers to work with Legault on a temporary reduction in immigration levels

As Quebec cuts immigration, statistics foreshadow demographic crunch

Good overview of the numbers:

As Premier François Legault prepares to cut immigrationby about 20 per cent, new statistics indicate Quebec has the oldest inhabitants in Canada and its overall population is growing at a slower pace than most other provinces.

The figures may lend credence to critics of the Coalition Avenir Québec plan, including the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and Quebec’s largest employer group, who say cutting immigration could exacerbate a demographic and labour crunch.

Quebec will cut the number of new arrivals by more than 10,000 a year — from 53,300 in 2018 to between 38,000 and 42,000 in 2019. There is no indication when or if the number will be raised in the future.

On Thursday, the Institut de la statistique du Québec published its annual demographic update — a snapshot of Quebec as of Jan. 1, 2018. Here’s some of what it revealed:

8.3 million

Quebec’s population in 2017. It grew by 85,700, or one per cent. That’s a growth rate of 10.3 per 1,000 people, which is lower than the provincial average (13 per 1,000). Only New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia had lower growth rates than Quebec. Ontario registered the biggest increase: 15.6 per 1,000.


22.6

Percentage of Canadians who live in Quebec. That figure has remained steady in recent years. But since the early 1970s, Quebec’s proportion of Canada’s population has fallen by more than five percentage points (from 27.9 per cent in 1971). Meanwhile, Alberta’s has increased by four points and Ontario’s has jumped by three points. The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal has urged Quebec to increase immigration to 60,000 per year in part to maintain the province’s demographic weight. A further drop in Quebec’s weight could mean less political clout within Canada when new seats are added to the House of Commons.


18.5

Percentage of Quebec’s population 65 or older. Across Canada, the average is lower – 17 per cent. In addition to having more older inhabitants, Quebec also has fewer residents 20 or younger (20.6 per cent, compared to 21.6 per cent across Canada).


83,900

Number of babies born in Quebec in 2017. That’s 2,400 fewer than in 2016. Quebec’s fertility rate was 1.54 children per woman, slightly more than the Canadian average of 1.49. Quebec was in the middle of the pack — five provinces had lower rates and four have higher rates.


32

Percentage of babies born in Quebec last year who have at least one parent born outside Canada. In most of these cases, both parents were born elsewhere. This trend has grown steadily in recent years. In 1980, 13 per cent of babies had at least one foreign-born parent. By 2000, the figure had jumped to 21 per cent.


52,407

Number of immigrants who arrived in Quebec in 2017. That’s a decrease of 850 compared to the previous year. Quebec welcomed 18 per cent of the immigrants who came to Canada, less than its demographic weight (it has just under 23 per cent of Canada’s population). Quebec took in 6.3 immigrants for every 1,000 current residents. That’s lower than the Canadian average (8.3 per 1,000) but higher than the United States (3.5 per 1,000). Almost 60 per cent of Quebec’s new immigrants were in the 20-to-44 age group. Seventy-three per cent of immigrants who arrived in Quebec in 2015 still lived in the province in 2017.


5,108

Number of immigrants who came to Quebec from China, the single biggest source of newcomers in 2017. They represented 10 per cent of new immigrants. In second and third spot: France (8.6 per cent) and Syria (seven per cent). The previous year, the order was: Syria, France, China.


22,232

Number of Canadians from other provinces who moved to Quebec. That’s the highest number in more than a decade. The surge helped reduce the net outflow of residents to other provinces. In total, 6,500 more people left Quebec for other parts of Canada last year than arrived in Quebec from other provinces. That’s the smallest interprovincial population loss since 2011. Most between-province moves involve the 401. In 2017, 12,500 Ontario residents moved to Quebec, while almost 19,000 Quebecers relocated to Ontario.

Source: As Quebec cuts immigration, statistics foreshadow demographic crunch

Quebec announces reduced immigration targets, fuelling tensions with Ottawa

To watch.

Any reopening of the agreement to provide Quebec a role in family reunification and refugees would need to be accompanied by reopening the block grant of $490 million provided to Quebec (2017-18) for selection and integration (see Chantal Hébert’s earlier column By campaigning to cut immigration, Quebec’s opposition parties are playing politics with their province’s future):

Quebec plans to slash the number of immigrants it accepts next year, delivering on an election promise by Premier François Legault and setting the province on a collision course with Ottawa.

The Quebec government announced targets on Tuesday to reduce the number of newcomers to 40,000 in 2019, 24 per cent fewer than the 53,300 anticipated this year.

The plan is turning into the first major source of tension between the federal Liberals and the new Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government, just three days before a federal-provincial meeting in Montreal.

While the biggest drop in numbers would occur among qualified workers and other economic immigrants, which are under provincial control, Quebec also wants to cut into two streams of newcomers that fall under federal control: family reunifications involving spouses, children and parents, which would see 2,800 fewer immigrants, and refugees and asylum seekers, which would be cut by 2,450 people.

Groups working with immigrants and refugees called the CAQ plan “cruel” and said it is already stirring panic among families in Quebec who fear they will not be reunited with loved ones abroad.

The CAQ is also facing criticism for the cuts because Quebec is struggling with a chronic manpower shortage.

In Ottawa on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised questions about the timing of the plan.

“What I hear from business people across Quebec is that companies are worried about a labour shortage. I’m not sure that this is the best moment to reduce the intake of newcomers,” he told reporters.

Mr. Legault campaigned on a pledge to reduce immigration, arguing that one in five immigrants ends up leaving Quebec. He has framed the cuts not just in terms of better matching newcomers to the needs of the labour market, but as a way of safeguarding Quebec’s identity, values and French language.

The federal government said it will continue to hold discussions with the Quebec government on the issue, including defending the integrity of the family reunification program.

“We are disappointed,” Dominic LeBlanc, the federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday. “We don’t want a two-tier system in which families in Quebec need more time to bring in their spouses and parents than those in New Brunswick or Ontario. That’s not an ideal situation.”

Mr. LeBlanc added that both the Quebec and Canadian governments should make sure they meet their international obligations in terms of taking in refugees.

Mr. Legault said his government was elected after campaigning on lower immigration levels.

“We have a clear mandate from the population,” he said outside the National Assembly. “The population clearly understood that a CAQ government will reduce the number of immigrants to 40,000. … I trust the good judgment of the federal government.”

Quebec says the reduction will be temporary, with Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette calling it a “transition.”

“Faced with the difficulties of integration for a large number of immigrants, we had to act and have the courage to take the means to favour their long-term settlement in Quebec,” he said at a news conference.

In the legislature, he said: “What we want to do is deploy the resources to ensure each person who chooses Quebec succeeds.”

The government’s plan was denounced by an umbrella organization for groups working with immigrants and refugees in Quebec. The Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes called the plan “cruel” and unprecedented in Quebec’s history of immigration policy.

“This decision of the government is creating a wind of panic among numerous families that we are meeting in our organization,” said Lida Ahgasi, co-president of the Table, in a statement. “It’s a totally counterproductive decision, since we know that successful integration can only be accomplished within the family. If we want to take care of newcomers, we especially have to respect and protect the integrity of their family unit.”

At their first meeting after the Oct. 1 Quebec election, Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Legault tried to negotiate a deal on immigration. However, Quebec decided on numbers without informing the federal government of its intentions ahead of time. Under the 1991 Canada-Quebec immigration deal, federal funding to facilitate the integration of immigrants in Quebec will still go up next year, even though the intake numbers will go down.

Source: Quebec announces reduced immigration targets, fuelling tensions with Ottawa

John Ivison: Will the Canadian consensus on immigration fall victim to Liberal bungling on border-crossers?

Ivison on the Michelle Rempel’s critique of the Liberal government’s immigration policies and approach and their communications challenges.

Federal immigration minister Ahmed Hussen’s announcement last week that Canada will increase its immigration target to 350,000 by 2021 seems designed to flush out the Conservatives.

With Maxime Bernier’s fledgling party promising to cut the number of permanent residents arriving in Canada from the current target of 330,000 next year to around 250,000, there is growing pressure on the Conservatives to follow suit.

The party’s immigration critic, Michelle Rempel, admits it might be the politically expedient thing to do. “If I was taking the easy route, I’d just say ‘Cut immigration’ … But the reality is we have to reform the system. It isn’t working by any metric,” she said in an interview.

Rempel said she is desperate to avoid what she called an “Americanized” debate about immigration levels.

“What Bernier doesn’t understand is that for the people looking at his party, there is only one number that is sufficient — and that’s zero,” she said.

An August survey by the Angus Reid Institute set off alarm bells that the consensus that has characterized Canadian attitudes towards immigration for the past four decades is in danger of shattering.

The poll found that the number of respondents who felt immigration levels should stay the same or be increased, which has registered at over 50 per cent for forty years, had fallen to 37 per cent. Half of those surveyed said they would prefer to see the federal government’s 2018 immigration target of 310,000 new permanent residents be reduced.

Rempel said the consensus is under pressure because the Liberals have bungled aspects of immigration policy like the “irregular” border-crossing file.

“The consensus is not breaking down, but the public is looking at what is happening with the asylum seekers and they don’t think the social contract criteria are being met,” she said. “The debate shouldn’t be about numbers but about the process by which we set those numbers.”

It’s clear that immigration will be one of the key battlegrounds in the 2019 election. The Conservatives would seek to close the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that allows people to enter Canada illegally from upstate New York, and expedite the removal process of those people whose refugee claims were rejected. Rempel admits there is also pressure coming from within her own caucus to put a number on what immigration levels would be under a Conservative government.

“But I’m not going to treat this like an auction for votes,” she said, noting that on the Syrian refugees issue, her party had pledged to admit 10,000, which persuaded the NDP to raise its commitment to 15,000 and the Liberals to trump them all with a promise to admit 25,000. Yet, as she points out, unemployment rates among Syrian refugees remain stubbornly high more than two years after most arrived.

“It’s irresponsible to set a target without ascertaining how much it will cost to adequately process the huge backlog of asylum seekers,” she said.

Unlike many other centre-right parties, the federal Conservatives have long been pro-immigration. In 2015, levels remained at a historically high rate, with 271,833 new permanent residents landing in Canada.

During the Harper government’s term of office, 2.8 million people arrived as permanent residents in Canada, mainly from countries like the Philippines, India, China and Pakistan.

The mix was heavily weighted towards those chosen for their skills and education levels— in 2015, 63 per cent were economic class migrants, 24 per cent arrived under the family reunification program, and 13 per cent were refugees.

The consensus is based on a broad recognition that Canada’s worker to retiree ratio — 4.2:1 in 2012 — is set to decline precipitously to 2:1 by 2031.

It is widely understood that a decade after they arrive the labour force participation rates for immigrants is comparable to those who were born in Canada. And it is accepted that immigrants and the children of immigrants are generally better educated that the Canadian-born population (almost half have a bachelors degree, compared to one quarter for the latter).

But the complexion of the immigration system is set to change. The mix planned by the Liberals will by 2021 see economic class migrants fall to just 51 per cent of the total of 350,000, with family reunification numbers increasing by more than one third to account for nearly 30 per cent of the total and refugee numbers rising by 44 per cent to reach 19 per cent of the total.

[Note: The levels plan shows that the percentage of economic class immigrants is essentially flat at 57-58 percent, compared to the low 60s during the Conservative government).

The increased number of family members admitted into the country is likely to play well in ridings with large immigrant populations — as it did in the 2015 election.

But irregular migration is not playing well with anybody — particularly not immigrants, who see asylum-seekers as queue-jumpers, nor Quebecers, who are bearing the brunt of the refugee tide.

The government has allocated an extra $440 million to improve processing and settlement programs, and an additional $173 million specifically to manage irregular migration levels. A further $50 million has been given to provinces to pay for temporary housing for “irregular” migrants.

But as Rempel pointed out, throwing money at the problem does not make it go away. “The issue for many people is that they see higher numbers (of illegal migrants) at Roxham Road, and the higher social costs, and say we should reduce numbers,” she said.

Rempel is trying to hold a line that is under pressure from “open borders” policy on the left and “closed borders” policy on the right.

She needs to sharpen her messaging, if she is to succeed in persuading Canadians this is not just a numbers game.

But it is a line worth holding.

The debate over immigration in Canada has not descended into bigotry and resentment because it has worked for four decades. As Stephen Harper noted in his recent book, Right Here, Right Now: “Make immigration legal, secure and, in the main, economically-driven, and it will have high levels of public confidence.”

But public support is on the decline thanks to illegal migration, porous borders and an increase in the proportion of non-economic migrants.

Rempel’s argument is that Trudeau has lost the “social license” to increase immigration levels and only the Conservatives can restore it. Whether that can be done without giving a number on entry levels remains to be seen.

Source: John Ivison: Will the Canadian consensus on immigration fall victim to Liberal bungling on border-crossers?