Quebec will welcome a record of more than 100,000 immigrants in 2022

To the 70,000 regular immigrants welcomed this year, Quebec is also allowing the reception of a growing number of temporary foreign workers. Since 2017, this number has increased by around 80%. We have gone from nearly 18,000 temporary foreign workers in 2017 to approximately 33,000 who were authorized in 2019 and 2020, with a similar trend in 2021 and 2022.

In addition to these regular and supervised arrivals, there are also asylum seekers. In the first three months of 2022, more than 7,000 interceptions were reported at the Quebec border, at Roxham Road in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, of people crossing the border irregularly and seeking refuge.

The Legault government expects, at the current rate, the arrival of 30,000 to 35,000 people via Roxham Road this year.

Closing Roxham Road: A Simplistic Picture

Quebec asks the federal government to “close Roxham Road”. It’s a simplistic image, which politicians like to use to try to capture the imagination of the population. In reality, the request is much more complex and involves both the Trudeau government in Ottawa and the Biden administration in Washington.

Quebec expects, at the current rate, the arrival of 30,000 to 35,000 people via Roxham Road in 2022.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Romain Schué

What is at issue is the safe third country agreement between Canada and the United States, which mutually recognize each other as countries of reception, of refuge, where people can seek asylum and protection. Therefore, a person who is on American soil and who wants to seek asylum in Canada cannot take a regular route, that of customs. She has to go through an irregular path and seek refuge with the authorities.

Thus was formed, over time, an informal passage which is that of Roxham Road, easily accessible between New York State and Quebec. Over time, and the number of people who used this path, the RCMP set up a station there to formalize the reception and supervise this migratory movement.

So you understand that the image of physically closing Roxham Road, installing a fence there, as former Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée evoked in 2018, is particularly simplistic. To close one path is to open thousands of others. Otherwise, we would have to call, like Donald Trump, for the construction of a wall, immense, from one end of the country to the other.

It is the agreement between Canada and the United States that must be reviewed and the Trudeau government says it is in the process of negotiating this with the American administration.

In the meantime, Minister Jean Boulet’s proposal to ensure the transfer elsewhere in Canada of people who cross Roxham Road irregularly is probably the most appropriate in the circumstances.

Irregular crossings are almost all done on Roxham road, while asylum seekers are mostly in the eastern United States, especially in New York or Florida. Access to the border between New York State and Quebec is easy, in several places.

Immigrants to ease the labor shortage

François Legault’s government seems to understand that Quebec needs immigrants. In the debates in the House, the Prime Minister accused the Liberals of counting only on immigration to alleviate the labor shortage, without taking into account their integration and their knowledge of French.

But, in fact, the Legault government has decided to welcome a record number of immigrants to Quebec in 2022. These immigrants are among the many solutions to be implemented in an attempt to reduce the economic pressure caused by the lack labor.

First, Quebec has decided to make up for the shortfall caused by the pandemic, which has slowed down population movements. Quebec welcomed just over 40,000 immigrants in 2019, then 25,000 in 2020, before rising to over 40,000 in 2021.

In 2022, Quebec will welcome a record number of approximately 70,000 immigrants.

Moreover, after having lowered the reception target to 40,000 immigrants when he came to power, François Legault announced that he was going to increase this number to 50,000 per year, an increase of 20 to 25%. He indicated that he wanted to cap that number at 50,000.

François Legault’s government has also chosen to significantly increase the number of temporary foreign immigrant workers on Quebec soil. At the current rate, Quebec will welcome more than 30,000 this year, approaching or exceeding, as we shall see, the record set in recent years.

At the end of 2021, an agreement was reached with the federal government to bring in more temporary immigrants in lower-wage jobs. In addition, companies can hire as many temporary workers as they wish for low-skilled occupations. And there are more professions that no longer need to go through a posting.

Gerald Fillion

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