Le dossier de l’immigration au Québec va mal

Apart from the administrative issues (a natural result of distinct jurisdictional responsibilities that should be addressed administratively), the main argument is for transferring responsibility for temporary migration to Quebec. Given the Quebec government’s overall approach to immigration, hard to see that this would result in improved administration or outcomes.

And complaining that Quebec does not receive integration funds for temporary workers is cheeky, given the overly generous financial support for integration under the Quebec-Canada accord (https://vancouversun.com/business/douglas-todd-quebec-to-get-10-times-more-than-b-c-and-ontario-to-settle-immigrants):

Le 6 juillet dernier, Robert Dutrisac note que « [la] superposition des administrations canadiennes et québécoises [en matière d’immigration] cause des lourdeurs inacceptables dont il faudra bien se débarrasser ».

Il a raison d’expliquer pourquoi cela prend plus de temps pour obtenir la résidence permanente au Québec. En effet, une personne sélectionnée au Québec reçoit un Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) et ensuite fait une demande de résidence permanente au fédéral. Après avoir fait les vérifications de santé et de sécurité, le fédéral est tenu d’accorder la résidence permanente selon l’Accord Canada-Québec sur l’immigration signé en 1991. Quelqu’un qui se destine à ailleurs au Canada n’a pas à passer par l’étape du CSQ.

Le Devoir a offert ces derniers mois plusieurs exemples montrant que le dossier de l’immigration au Québec va mal et combien chevauchement gouvernemental s’ajoute souvent au problème.

Des personnes sélectionnées par le Québec en attente de leur résidence permanente ne réussissent pas à faire renouveler leur permis de séjour temporaire ; des demandeurs d’asile qui contribuent à notre société attendent pour savoir si leur demande de résidence permanente sera approuvée ; sans parler des étudiantes et étudiants étrangers séduits à s’inscrire à des collèges privés avec une promesse de résidence permanente au Canada ou des travailleurs agricoles qui subissent des conditions de travail inacceptables au Québec, liés à leur employeur par un permis de travail temporaire fermé.

Les solutions proposées vont dans tous les sens. Les employeurs réclament une hausse de seuils d’immigration pour pourvoir à la pénurie de main-d’œuvre. Un parti politique réclame une baisse des seuils d’immigration pour protéger notre langue et notre culture. Un autre semble vouloir offrir la résidence permanente essentiellement à tout le monde qui veut s’installer au Québec. Le gouvernement parle de négociations qui traînent avec le fédéral pour accélérer la régularisation des personnes sélectionnées et pour plus de contrôle sur le programme des travailleurs étrangers temporaires.

Pendant ce temps, plus de 80 millions de personnes ont été déplacées sur la planète en 2020 à cause des conflits. Combien de milliers d’autres pour des raisons de catastrophes naturelles ? On ne connaît pas encore l’effet à long terme de la pandémie sur la migration économique ou pour les études.

L’immigration temporaire a pris le dessus

L’Accord Canada-Québec signé il y a 30 ans ne suffit plus à la tâche. Le gouvernement du Québec d’alors cherchait à déterminer les volumes d’arrivées et à appliquer une grille de sélection spécifique aux besoins démographiques, socio-économiques et linguistiques du Québec. Il voulait également plein contrôle des services d’intégration socioéconomiques et linguistiques. Presque tout dans l’Accord concerne l’immigration permanente. Même la compensation du fédéral prévue pour les services d’intégration ne touche que les personnes avec un statut de résidence permanente.

Aujourd’hui, c’est l’immigration temporaire qui a pris le dessus, sans planification des volumes. En 2019, l’année où le gouvernement du Québec a baissé le nombre d’admissions de 20 % pour l’établir à 40 000, il y avait près de 160 000 personnes avec un permis temporaire au Québec au 31 décembre, excluant les personnes ayant fait une demande d’asile.

L’immigration temporaire inclut les personnes de l’étranger qui étudient ou travaillent ici, avec des permis fermés ou ouverts qui comprennent leurs conjointes et conjoints et les travailleuses et travailleurs agricoles. Un grand nombre veulent rester et ils y sont même encouragés.

Ces personnes restent souvent au Québec pendant quelques années avant de faire leur demande de résidence permanente. Pendant ce temps, les seules exigences linguistiques qui s’appliquent sont celles des établissements d’enseignement supérieur ou des employeurs. Ils peuvent envoyer leurs enfants à des écoles publiques anglaises. En dépit des grands nombres, la pénurie de main-d’œuvre perdure.

C’est le gouvernement fédéral qui décide les conditions des permis de séjour temporaire et qui traite les dossiers de demande d’asile. Dans le budget fédéral de février dernier, un financement de 49,5 millions de dollars sur trois ans a été annoncé pour appuyer les organismes communautaires qui offrent des programmes et des services d’orientation aux travailleurs migrants. Puisque ces services ne visent pas les résidents permanents, ils ne seront pas couverts par l’Accord Canada-Québec. Le Québec n’aura donc plus le plein contrôle sur le message aux personnes arrivant sur le territoire, ni sur la langue de ce message.

Monsieur Robert Dutrisac affirme avec raison que « le Québec doit, pour des raisons évidentes, garder le contrôle de son immigration ». Malheureusement, il est presque trop tard. Ce ne sont pas les petits pansements ici et là dans les processus qui suffiront à remédier à la situation.

Est-ce que le Québec saurait faire bon usage d’un réel contrôle de son système d’immigration et d’intégration ? Est-ce possible un Accord modernisé ? Il est plus que temps de trouver les réponses à ces questions.

Ancienne directrice de la planification et de la reddition de comptes, ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/idees/617817/quebec-le-dossier-de-l-immigration-va-mal?utm_source=infolettre-2021-07-14&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

Yalnizyan: Our temporary residents provide a resource we can’t ignore

Armine’s piece coming out of Ryerson’s CERC panel a few months ago.

I remain sceptical regarding maintaining current target levels during a recession and lowering the CRS minimum points to 75 (essentially, anyone 25-34 with one years Canadian work experience) as a good immigration strategy in terms of economic and social outcomes.

And, as StatsCan helpfully remained us, not all temporary workers will necessarily want to transition to permanent status:

Over the last decade or two, about one third of temporary foreign workers and one quarter of international students became landed immigrants within 15 years after their first arrival. TFWs who had low earnings tended to have low earnings after becoming landed immigrants.— feng hou (@fenghou9) March 7, 2021

Worried about immigration during the pandemic? You may be shocked to learn that for every new permanent resident admitted to Canada in 2019, almost three temporary residents were admitted to work or study. Immigration refers only to permanent residents, so any conversation about immigration is only talking about 28 per cent of all the people entering Canada.

This little-known statistic directly informs a recent conversationabout Canada’s Immigration Plan at Ryerson University, the core theme of which is that we could miss a remarkable opportunity if we don’t see the whole chessboard.

In particular, the surest path to an equitable post-COVID-19 recovery involves increasing the number of immigrants Canada accepts by expanding the paths to permanent residency for people already studying and working here, Canada’s temporary residents. That single reform could bolster Canada’s future in both the short and long run. Here’s why:

It comes as no surprise that Canada’s immigration intake was almost cut in half as a result of COVID-19, bringing us back to levels last seen in the late 1990s. Those levels are not good enough for the post-pandemic future, which will be marked by population aging and a shrinking working-age cohort.

The pandemic accelerated a process already in play, with more people over 55 exiting the workforce than entrants aged 25 and younger. This dynamic hastens that moment when Canada’s net labour-force growth goes negative if not for the addition of workers born outside Canada. A shrinking Canadian labour force, with little or no productivity growth since 2015, is a recipe for economic decline. That’s not a future anyone wants.

Nonetheless, some experts are worried about Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino’s pledge to make up for the shortfall in the 2020 target of 341,000 new immigrants by increasing targets over the next three years: 401,000 new immigrants in 2021, rising to 421,000 by 2023.

For critics, it’s too soon for such ambitious plans. COVID-19-related job losses and foregone hours of paid work mean the current labour underutilization rate is over 18 per cent. Given that the pandemic hit low-income workers the hardest, and that low-income workers are disproportionately women, youth, racialized minorities and recent immigrants, it could seem counterproductive to add more people to the mix as the nation’s hardest-hit citizens struggle to find their feet again in the post-pandemic world. Indeed, the Conservative immigration critic, Raquel Dancho, describes the goal of accepting 1.2 million new immigrants by 2023 as “pure fantasy.”

Higher targets do raise legitimate concerns about the well-known challenges of integration, given the current inadequacy of settlement services. But is the Liberals’ plan really so unattainable and undesirable?

Consider the numbers: Canada accepted more than 1.2 million newcomers in just one year, 2019, (see Chart 1) through permits for both permanent and temporary residency — a number that has increased steadily over the years, particularly among for those brought into Canada for economic reasons.

In 2019 (see Chart 2), about 30 per cent of those who entered Canada as permanent residents had made the transition from temporary-resident status. We can easily accommodate 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years if we draw from the ranks of temporary residents who already work or study here. They have adjusted to life in Canada to some degree. Providing them with better settlement services like subsidized housing, English/French as a second language instruction and learning supports is a low-cost, high-yield return on public spending that also creates new jobs for Canadians.

Ironically, admitting more immigrants may be the surest path to a more equitable recovery, if one looks at the entire system of the intake of newcomers, including temporary residents. We don’t know for sure how many want to stay, but there’s plenty of demand for pathways to permanence among the more than 530,000 international students, 459,000 migrant workers (via the International Mobility Programs) and 77,000 temporary foreign workers who were in Canada as of December 31, 2020, and that’s in the middle of a pandemic. It is hard to believe that this deep well of human aspiration could not satisfy most, if not all, of the minister’s goal of adding 50,000 more immigrants this year. More generally, failing to integrate those who are already here studying and working and who want to stay is like leaving money on the table.

Though hard to imagine right now, we will soon be looking at widespread labour shortages. While population aging creates an unprecedented opportunity to increase skills and employment opportunities for whole groups of systemically underemployed Canadian residents, like the ones hardest hit by the pandemic, we’ll nonetheless need more newcomers to address temporary and permanent labour and skills shortages.

Historically, we have admitted more permanent residents than temporary ones to address labour shortages. But in 2006 the lines crossed. Ever since, we’ve admitted more migrant workers than economic immigrants. Take a hard look at the trajectory in Chart 2 and ask yourself: can you imagine living in a society where the vast majority of economic newcomers are migrants? Is this the future you envision for Canada?

The shift described in Chart 2 erodes workers’ rights in industries like accommodation, food service, personal services, elder care and child care, long-term care, and some types of manufacturing. These sectors, which have long relied on low-wage immigrants, reduce costs even further by turning to migrant workers with even less ability to exercise statutory labour protections. Exhibit A: seasonal agricultural workers, the essential workers who make sure we are fed, but may not be able to protect their own health and safety. Most come back, year after year; but this year some couldn’t even get tests or take time off when they fell ill with COVID-19. We can do better, for them and for us.

This process has begun. Small steps to create more pathways to permanence started in 2019, with a new pilot for personal care workers, joined by two others in 2020 for seasonal agricultural workers and live-in caregivers, and one for health-care workersin 2021. To these measures was added the recent federal invitation to basically everyone in Canada to put in an application to become a permanent resident. Last month the federal government drew 27,800 people from these applications. 

Canadian immigration is based on a point system, and the lowest score of applicants was 75. A normal draw features applicants with 400 points, sometimes more. Does this downgrade the “quality” of immigrants and hence their ability to integrate? No. They were already here, studying and working, but at risk of losing their status and deported during the pandemic. This was effectively a regularization program. (Note: Canada hasn’t had a major regularization program for residents without status since the 1970s, under Trudeau père. If not during a pandemic, when should such measures be taken? Never?)

We should celebrate, not be afraid of these measures. Permitting more migrant workers to transition to permanent status increases their ability to access labour protections and basic human rights. If we reduce exploitation of these workers, we improve working conditions for everyone in the workplaces where they are employed.

The de facto “two-step immigration process” that has emerged in recent years has been primarily driven by business demands for faster intake of newcomers, but could lead to better integration and lives for “low” and “high” skilled workers alike. If temporary foreign workers are good enough to work for us, they are good enough to live among us, permanently, if that is what they wish.

Let’s not look at the immigration story with our eyes wide shut. How we live with others will define the labour market, society, and future of Canada.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2021/03/06/our-temporary-residents-provide-a-resource-we-cant-ignore.html

No need to show proof of work permit to get CERB, Ottawa tells temporary foreign residents

Generous flexibility:

The federal government has taken new steps to make it easier for international students and other temporary foreign residents to receive emergency benefits, another sign of Ottawa’s determination to disburse the payments quickly and widely.

Such short-term immigrants need only give their word they have a valid work permit or have applied for a renewed one to obtain the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), says a memo sent this week to staff vetting the claims.

Until last Thursday, they had to email Employment and Social Development Canada an image of their valid work or work/study permit, or confirmation they had applied to renew an expired one.

But a memo sent to Employment and Social Development Canada officials handling CERB applications said that condition is waived “effective immediately” and agents “are only required to verbally obtain work permit details.”

The directive applies to everyone who claims to meet the programs other requirements and has a “900-series” social insurance number — people ranging from students to refugee claimants to temporary foreign workers and executives transferred from other countries. None are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

One source familiar with the system said people with valid permits would typically email proof within a few minutes, barely slowing the process. But now there is no way for staff to verify whether someone is in the country legally, the person said.

And if an applicant does receive the $2,000-a-month payments inappropriately and then leaves Canada, it would be virtually impossible to recover the money, said the source, who’s not authorized to discuss internal matters and asked not to be named.

Outside experts offered differing opinions, with one immigrant advocate calling it an “excellent” policy that should get important help to temporary residents faster, and an immigration lawyer saying it shows an “astonishing” disregard for taxpayer funds.

Maya Dura, a spokeswoman for Ahmed Hussen, the families, children and social devlopment minister, said such claimants “may be asked to provide additional documentation to verify their eligibility at a future date.”

“The Government of Canada will, whether it be in the upcoming weeks or at tax time next year, reconcile accounts and make sure people did not defraud the CERB,” she added via email.

Asked about 900-series residents generally, Dura provided statistics just for international students, saying 39,319 had applied for CERB through ESDC by May 18, and 30,645 have received payments so far.

The CERB program has wide support from all parties as a way to soften the blow for people left jobless or unable to find work by the pandemic and lockdowns. It provides $500 a week to people who “have stopped working” because of COVID-19, so long as they made $5,000 within the previous 12 months and did not quit voluntarily.

But there has been increasing scrutiny of the program in recent days amid revelations about how it’s being managed. Previous memos, obtained by the National Post, directed staff to approve applicants even if they see evidence of potential abuse, and even if people quit their jobs voluntarily or were fired for alleged misconduct, seemingly contrary to CERB rules.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government will claw back unwarranted or fraudulent payments later, but had to get cheques out quickly because of the millions of people put out of work.

Sergio Karas, a Toronto immigration lawyer, condemned the latest change, saying it means even an individual who is facing a deportation order or who had already left the country could now obtain CERB.

“It’s truly astonishing,” he said. “The person could potentially be overseas if the payment is going to a Canadian bank account. That is extremely troubling.”

“That money is not free,” he added. “That money is going to have to come out of someone’s pocket at some point. It is going to be the taxpayers of Canada, citizens or not.”

But Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, praised the policy as “an excellent move by the federal government.”

“Many of these individuals through no fault of their own are unable to have their SINs and-or work permits renewed during this health emergency,” she said by email. “At the same time many have lost their jobs or have experienced significant reduction in hours of work. Many were or are vulnerable to evictions. “

Thursday’s directive is “very useful” as it will help speed up CERB cheques for people who haven’t had time to apply for a permit renewal, said Douglas.

The memo last week notes that to be eligible for benefits like Employment Insurance or CERB a temporary resident with a 900-series SIN “must prove they are legally allowed to work in Canada.”

But “due to COVID-19 the 900-series SIN procedures have been simplified,” it said in explaining the change to requiring merely verbal proof,

The government had paid out $39 billion under CERB to more than eight million claimants by May 21.

Source: No need to show proof of work permit to get CERB, Ottawa tells temporary foreign residents

Portugal gives migrants and asylum-seekers full citizenship rights during coronavirus outbreak

Of note. Best approach from a public health perspective (not full rights, can’t vote):

Portugal has temporarily given all migrants and asylum seekers full citizenship rights, granting them full access to the country’s healthcare as the outbreak of the novel coronavirusescalates in the country.

The move will “unequivocally guarantee the rights of all the foreign citizens” with applications pending with Portuguese immigration, meaning they are “in a situation of regular permanence in National Territory,” until June 30, the Portuguese Council of Ministers said on Friday.
The Portuguese Council of Ministers explained that the decision was taken to “reduce the risks for public health” of maintaining the current scheduling of appointments at the immigration office, for both the border agents and the migrants and asylum seekers.
Portugal declared a State of Emergency on March 18 that came into effect at midnight that day and was due to last for 15 days. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said during a news conference that “democracy won’t be suspended.”
The country was a dictatorship for decades, with democracy being restored in 1974.
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called the Covid-19 pandemic “a true war,” which would bring true challenges to the country’s “way of life and economy.”
Rebelo de Sousa also praised the behavior of Portuguese citizens, “who have been exemplary in imposing a self-quarantine,” reflecting “a country that has lived through everything.”
Portugal has has 6,408 cases of coronavirus, with 140 deaths and 43 recovered, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Source: Portugal gives migrants and asylum-seekers full citizenship rights during coronavirus outbreak