‘In Quebec, we speak French,’ CAQ proposes mandatory language classes for immigrants

Click to play video: 'French classes for immigrants: CAQ'
French classes for immigrants: CAQ
WATCH ABOVE: The CAQ party convention has adopted a motion to make French classes mandatory for immigrants. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, the CAQ also wants to reduce the number of newcomers by 10,000 a year – Nov 14, 2016

At its party convention in Drummondville over the weekend, Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) members voted to adopt a motion to force all non-francophone immigrants to take French-language classes.

READ MORE: Quebec immigration minister, NGOs brainstorm integration ideas for Syrian refugees

The CAQ presented the proposal last week at the National Assembly.

READ MORE: Quebec to welcome 51K immigrants in 2017 with heavy focus on French workers

In the report, A Common Language for All, the party argued more Allophones are receiving public services in English.

It proposes new immigrants follow a program of free French-language instruction that will run between 30 and 72 weeks with a maximum allowance of $200 a week for taking the class.

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The compensation is currently $120 a week.

“For every new Quebecer, there’ll be a team assigned to following their evolution,” said Claire Samson, CAQ critic for the promotion of the French language.

READ MORE: Should economic needs trump language in new Quebec immigration law?

Samson said she doesn’t think the plan will make Quebec less attractive to newcomers.

“If you ask to move to Quebec, it is our responsibility to tell them, ‘well, in Quebec, we speak French,” she said.

READ MORE: CAQ wants to cut immigration to Quebec by 20 per cent

The second opposition also wants to reduce the number of newcomers by 10,000 a year.

However, Quebec’s immigration minister said hinging an immigrant’s legal status on the completion of French classes would go against immigration laws – and, she added, more importantly, it’s not necessary.

“This the CAQ never mentions: (between) 85 – 95 percent of our primary candidates of qualified workers speak French on arrival because we promote the learning of French before they even arrive,” said Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil.

Weil said the real picture of the integration of immigrants is much more positive than the second opposition would have Quebecers believe.

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“The CAQ is fear-mongering,” she said.

Weil also added that her government has increased the budget for French training for immigrants to the highest its ever been: $168 million a year.

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