Quebec hired significantly fewer people in 2019 despite a labor shortage
Given Quebec’s promise to cut immigration by 20 percent last year, it should come as no surprise that Quebec’s immigration rate has actually dropped dramatically in 2019, according to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada.
According to the Montreal GazetteThe number of immigrants admitted to Quebec last year decreased from 51,125 in 2018 to 40,545 in 2019 – a decrease of 20.7 percent. This is just a little more than the 20 percent decline that Quebec Prime Minister François Legault had pledged last year.
The city of Montreal was hit hardest by the cuts. Last year, 9,000 fewer immigrants came to the region. By comparison, immigration for the smaller communities in Quebec has remained stable but still low. For example:
- Shawinigan welcomed only 25 immigrants in 2019
- Rouyn-Noranda and Sept-Îles each received only 40 immigrants
- Only 10 newcomers arrived at the Baie-Comeau and Thetford mines
It is also important to note that Quebec has admitted fewer professionals from areas such as nursing, computer technology and computer programming. This is surprising considering that Quebec is currently experiencing the worst labor shortage in Canada and struggling to fill these types of positions. In fact, the Montreal Gazette reported that 137,000 jobs are currently open across the province of Quebec in all areas.
Quebec’s largest employers group, the Conseil du Patronat du Québec, responded to the news of the cuts and appealed to the provincial government to increase immigration in an official statement saying:
“We can see the immediate impact of an overly strict immigration policy. The government needs to correct this quickly, as our companies have long been suffering from the effects of labor shortages and are asking the government to help them by raising immigration thresholds. “
Legault’s justification for the cuts was that the province had not done a decent job of integrating newcomers or selecting professionals who met Quebec’s work needs. However, it should also be noted that Legault has promised this since the cuts increase immigration again until 2022.
Immigration to other provinces on the rise
The immigration situation in Quebec is in stark contrast to the state of immigration in the rest of Canada, as most other provinces have received an increased number of new arrivals in the past year.
In Ontario, the number of new arrivals to the province increased by 11.5 percent in 2019, and the city of Toronto alone accepted 117,720 new immigrants last year.
Meanwhile, the immigration rate in Manitoba has risen by 24 percent, in New Brunswick by 30 percent and in Nova Scotia by 33 percent.
These increases in immigration reported across Canada are expected to be in line with federal government plans to add another 350,000 to 400,000 immigrants per year by 2021.
The government will achieve this growth in part through a new upcoming immigration program called the Municipal Nominee Program, which is designed to enable smaller towns to help newcomers immigrate to their communities and address the labor shortage. Once launched, the program would offer communities up to 5,000 new immigration posts each year.
It is not known when this program will start, but until then it is hoped that progress will be made in increasing immigration rates across Canada.
Arghavan Gerami is the founder and senior counsel of Gerami Law Professional Corporation (‘PC’), a full-service immigration law firm in Ottawa, Ontario. Since 2011, Ms. Gerami has focused on immigration and refugee disputes. Ms. Gerami previously worked in the General Ministry and the Ministry of Justice and had the privilege of serving as judge M. Evans at the Federal Court of Appeals for Immigration and Administrative Law Complaints. Ms. Gerami is a member of the Immigration Law Department of the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Ms. Gerami has also published numerous articles in professional journals and presented them at various conferences and events on immigration and refugee law across Canada.
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