Sunday , June 20 2021

Ottawa, Quebec to discuss Legault's plan for immigration cuts as province handles job shortage

Federal and Québec officials will meet in two weeks to draft an immigration plan for the province which, according to François Legault, should include cuts in the number of newcomers and compensation for the costs of asylum seekers.

Immigration talks take place when Quebec is dealing with labor shortages.

Legault met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau behind the scenes of a withdrawal from the Liberal cabinet in Sherbrooke, which today, and Legault presented his list of demands to the federal government. They include more federal money to pay for the processing, shelter and social service costs associated with thousands of refugee seekers who have entered the US province.

Legault said he would not support any political party in the upcoming federal election but is seeking pledges to reimburse the $ 300 million the province has sought asylum.

"We would like to have commitments from different federal parties to these values," he said.

So far, the federal government has provided $ 140 million to Quebec.

Legault has issued a campaign pledge to reduce immigration levels by 20 percent in its province.

Last month, his government of the Coalition Avenir Québec presented details of its policy, confirming that it will continue with a plan to reduce the number of immigrants to 40,000 in 2019, up from more than 50,000 last year.

But this requires cooperation from the federal government to comply, since Quebec only has jurisdiction over economic immigration. The federal government oversees family reunification, refugees, and other programs.

Asylum seekers enter Quebec in February 2017. The province needs federal cooperation to comply with its plan to reduce immigration because Ottawa oversees family reunification, refugees and other programs. (Benjamin Shingler / CBC)

Labor shortages in Quebec

But Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc warned that in a time of severe labor shortages in Quebec, maintaining a strong provincial and national economy should be a key consideration in broader talks about reducing immigration.

Quebec's economy performs well, and some companies in the region have been forced to refuse contracts and refuse sales because they do not have enough employees to do the job, he said.

"So you can imagine the multiplier effect of that over time on economic growth in Quebec, which frankly is something that is very important for the whole country," LeBlanc said. "We do not want, because of the acute shortage of labor, in any way contribute to something that would slow down the economic growth of this province, which is a priority shared obviously between the two governments."

The joint federal-provincial meeting will take place in two weeks in Gatineau, Que.

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