The funds will be used to facilitate the recognition of immigrants’ skills, promote regional immigration, and help attract and retain foreign students, Quebec government says.
Quebec’s new budget includes a significant increase in immigration spending to stimulate economic recovery.
Quebec Finance Minister, Eric Girard, tabled the 2021-2022 provincial budget on March 25. This new budget provides an additional $246 million over the next three years to help the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) increase its efforts to better recognize the skills of immigrants and encourage regional immigration based on labour market needs.
With this funding, the government will also be able to enhance support for new immigrants taking French language courses and to promote the attraction and retention of international students, according to a press release (in French) issued by the MIFI.
“The budget presented by the Government of Quebec demonstrates the importance of immigration in government priorities,” Nadine Girault, Quebec’s Immigration Minister, said in the French media release.
“Attracting and integrating immigrants into communities, particularly those located in the regions, allows businesses to benefit from qualified workers and thus counter the labour shortage in several economic sectors.”
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New funds to speed up skills recognition for foreign-trained workers
The government is adopting an interdepartmental action plan to improve and accelerate the skills recognition of foreign-trained individuals so that they can quickly integrate into the Quebec labour market, by holding a job in line with their skills.
Of the total additional funding, $130 million will be spent over two years to promote the recognition of immigrants’ skills by:
- identifying employment fields and occupations to be prioritized with respect to the needs of the labour market and recruitment territories;
- increasing available, training, upgrading, retraining and internships for temporary foreign workers in regulated occupations;
- financial support for immigrants in the process of having their skills recognized which includes exemption from tuition fees for foreign-trained professionals who must take refresher training to meet the requirements of Quebec’s professional orders;
- support and assistance for professional orders to accelerate the recognition of skills.
Regional immigration initiatives in the works
Recognizing that most immigrants tend to settle in large metropolitan areas, recent immigration policies in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada have sought to encourage a more diverse geographic distribution of immigrants.
Quebec’s new budget reflects the province’s commitment to regionalize immigration in the context of labour shortages: $57 million over two years has been made available to implement initiatives to increase the proportion of immigrants who settle in certain regions most affected by labour shortages and to pursue immigrant integration efforts.
Francization of immigrants and retention of international students
Quebec’s new budget also provides new funding for the francization and integration of immigrants. Over the next two years, $50 million will be dedicated to increase educational resources and improve financial assistance to support immigrants taking French language courses.
Finally, the government recognizes the importance of supporting international students, who play a key role in the development of the province’s knowledge networks and economic growth. The Quebec government is therefore providing more than $9 million over three years to help attract and retain international students.
Elected Quebec government changing attitude on immigration
The current Quebec government, the Coalition Avenir Québec, has been in power since 2018 and this is its third budget.
Elected on a promise to reduce immigration to the province, the party has since shifted its approach, recognizing that immigration is a solution to problems such as an aging population and labour shortages.
This year, Quebec is set to welcome between 27,500 and 29,300 new immigrants through its economic immigration programs. These figures include a maximum of 24,200 skilled workers.
The province has also set a maximum of 4,300 new immigrants to come through its business immigration programs, which include the Quebec Entrepreneur Program and the Self-Employed Program.
In addition, a maximum of 800 admissions is planned in “other economic categories,” such as live-in caregivers.