Quebec needs migrants
19 September 2007
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According to Immigration Minister Yolande James, Quebec will have to increase immigration to meet its workforce needs. Her comments come in the wake of debates on the subject of immigration.
A recent hearing took place as an effort to determine how immigrants should be integrated into Quebec society, with issues discussed such as Muslim religious accommodation and French language requirements.
While the debate highlighted the controversial issue of immigration, all three parties in the Quebec National Assembly recognize the need for more migrants.
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The ruling Liberals would like to increase the annual target from 46,000 immigrants to 60,000 immigrants.
The official opposition, Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ), noted that Quebec isn't reaching its current targets and doesn't do enough to keep immigrants from moving to another province after arriving here.
The Parti Québécois wants sovereignty for Quebec over immigration -- currently Quebec City shares jurisdiction with Ottawa.
James, whose parents were immigrants, feels that newcomers enrich Quebec culture and said that she is "firmly convinced that our identity is as strong as ever."
Catherine Morrissette of the ADQ said that 80 percent of immigrant investors, who invest at least $400,000 in Quebec in exchange for an immigrant visa, end up leaving the Canadian province.
However, economist Pierre Fortin stated that this is a result of many immigrants from Hong Kong returning home after the 1997 handover of the city to China went smoothly. Fortin said that Quebec is now retaining 50 percent of immigrant investors.
Unfortunately, according to Fortin, the government's policy of hiring only one civil servant for every two that retire is hurting the immigrant investor program.
He suggested that the immigration department's staff should be increased to welcome more migrants and help them integrate into society.
Fortin noted that Quebec migrants had the highest unemployment rate of all immigrants in Canada, at 18 percent. Unemployment among the rest of immigrants in Canada is 12 percent.