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lundi 11 février 2019

Quebec Liberals slam 'blank slate' of CAQ's immigration bill

The Quebec Liberal Party is urging the Coalition Avenir Québec government to reverse its plan to cancel 18,000 immigration applications.

In an interview Sunday, Liberal immigration critic Dominique Anglade said that about 50,000 people would be affected by the move.

“There is absolutely no need for a blank slate,” said the MNA for Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne. “There are people who are in Quebec, who pay taxes, who have applied, who are now here, who speak French, who are in different regions of the province who stand to be affected by this.”

On Thursday, Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled sweeping legislation designed to eventually increase his government’s powers to verify new arrivals’ knowledge of French, Quebec and democratic values.

With Bill 9, as the legislation is known, the CAQ government is also seeking the power to trash a big chunk of the backlog of 18,000 immigrant applications it found when it took over from the Liberals, instead of trying to process them. Some applications date back six years.

Quebec plans to refund the $1,000 government processing fee for anyone who applied to enter Quebec as an economic immigrant before Aug. 2, 2018 under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP). The move would cost the treasury about $19 million.

Applicants will be informed of the decision and, if interested, can reapply under the Expression of Interest program; the program matches work skills of potential immigrants with employers seeking labour, rather than the first-come, first-served approach with which the QSWP operated. The Expression of Interest program was instituted in 2018 by Philippe Couillard’s Liberals.

The move reflects the CAQ approach to “marry the profile of workers and available jobs,” Jolin-Barrette said. He said eliminating the QSWP backlog is essential to this effort, adding that doing so would cut application processing times from 36 months to six.

The Liberals say the government has “no reason” to choose this option.

According to Anglade, nothing prevents the government from processing the applications already submitted while incorporating the Expression of Interest program.

She asked that the government reallocate the $19 million in application fees it would refund, and use the money to process the backlogged applications.

She also cited earlier reports in which Premier François Legault said the outstanding applications would be processed.

“It’s amateurish,” Anglade said. “I remind you that this is the government that said it wanted to accept fewer (immigrants) in order to take care of them. And now, I think their idea is to take care of no one.”

Marc-André Gosselin, press attaché to Jolin-Barrette, blasted the provincial Liberals Sunday for what he termed “a campaign of fear.” He said it is disingenuous to imply that people would have to leave Quebec if Bill 9 becomes law. Those in Quebec are here under federal work permits, he said, and Bill 9 does not change their status.

He said Bill 9 is intended to facilitate the linguistic and professional integration of immigrants. He blamed the Liberals for their “inaction” and challenged them to “explain why they were incapable of processing the immigration applications within a reasonable delay.”

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from Montreal Gazette https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/quebec-liberals-slam-blank-slate-of-caqs-immigration-bill
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