In a news conference today, Québec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil provided the framework of a new immigration policy aimed at attracting immigrants to the Canadian province who are more likely to succeed in the provincial labour market.
Ms. Weil stated that this new plan, called 'Together, We Are Québec' (or Ensemble, nous sommes le Québec), will take into account changing labour trends and streamline the immigration process. The new policy is accompanied by a five-year action strategy from 2016-2021.
Another key aim of the plan is to retain immigrants who are in Québec on temporary visas as students or temporary workers.
"People have a lot of choices right now," said Ms. Weil. "Many European countries and the U.S. are interesting [places] to potential immigrants and we want to do as well, or better, than our competitors."
Weil noted that the current immigration system, in which it can take years for a person to be approved to immigrate to Québec, needs to be changed.
"By the time [immigrants] get here, the labour market has changed."
Together, We Are Québec: An Expression of Interest Immigration System
The new plan is, in many ways, similar to the Express Entry system used by the federal government of Canada for the selection of economic immigrants.
Under the new system, candidates seeking to immigrate as skilled workers will be required to "declare their interest" bv submitting an online profile, and will be added to a bank of candidates for a predetermined period. Applicants who most closely meet Québec's needs will be invited to submit a formal immigration application on a priority basis. At the end of the predetermined period, candidates who have not been invited to apply will be removed from the bank.
The government of Québec staes that this "dynamic, avant-garde immigration system" is inspired by systems that have already been implemented in countries such as New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. Further, the government added that it will "increase candidate interest and help garner public support for immigration by better aligning Québec's needs with immigrants' profiles."
Individuals trained in job sectors that are in high-demand will be targeted for immigration first. When asked about what can be done for highly-trained workers like doctors and engineers to get their qualification recognized, Weil said the government and employers will have to step up.
"It's our objective to do much better.[…] We seek to have their qualification partially or fully recognized before they get here. We need to solve these problems. We have to mobilize all the players."
Learning French is seen as integral to having the program work.
"We need to be more flexible to open more French courses. We are going to offer it to foreign students and temporary workers. […] It's the first sense of insecurity new immigrants have."
Why a new system?
The government of Québec stated the following objectives for the new immigration plan:
Maximize economic participation by prioritizing candidates whose profiles meet labour market needs and who can contribute to the vitality of the French language;
Reduce delays matching qualified candidates and in-demand employment opportunities;
Introduce a flexible and dynamic system that allows the government to continually adapt selection criteria, invitation frequency, and the number of candidates; and
Allow Québec to remain competitive with other countries that have introduced similar systems.
The government states that the online application process for those wishing to immigrate to Québec will be simple, fast, and efficient. This will allow Québec to be competitive internationally,
In its official guide to the new plan, the government of Québec says that 'Like many other societies, Québec is facing significant demographic change, including a slowdown in population growth, a decline in the working-age population, and an aging population. Without productivity gains, these changes will have serious repercussions on Québec's prosperity. Action must be taken now in order to mitigate their impact.
It is not yet known when the new system will be operational.
In the meantime
The Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP), Québec's flagship immigration program, is scheduled to have two more application intake periods based on the existing first-come, first-served model (i.e. not based on the Expression of Interest method outlined above).
Up to 5,000 applications will be accepted during the period June 13 to June 20, 2016. This intake period will be restricted to the approximately 41,000 candidates who had created a Mon projet Québec account in January. Mon projet Québec is not scheduled to open for new registrations before the June intake period.
When this number is reached, applicants who do not have an account may create one with a view to the next intake period. During this second period, the dates of which will be established later, the Ministère will also receive 5,000 applications.
The announcement that up to 5,000 applications will be accepted in June, and another 5,000 at a later date, is likely to be well received by candidates who have created an account in Mon projet Québec, as the previous scheduled quota was set at 2,800 applications to be accepted.
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