Quebec optimistic it will reach agreement with federal government to lower immigration levels

Quebec wants lower immigration numbers
WATCH ABOVE: The CAQ has taken heavy criticism for its position on immigration. Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, who is in charge of the portfolio, responds to criticism from opposition parties.

Quebec’s immigration minister met with federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, Dominic LeBlanc Thursday morning as part of negotiations to lower the number of immigrants who come into the province.

The CAQ promised to cut immigration levels by 20 per cent from 50,000 to 40,000; now they have until next month to reach an agreement with the feds.

“I had a good discussion with Minister LeBlanc and also last week with Minister Hussen, the federal minister of immigration, so for the next days, we will talk together,” said Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette.

READ MORE: Quebec’s new government wants to reduce immigrants. Can its economy afford it?

Currently, Quebec is only responsible for accepting economic immigrants. The federal government controls immigration for refugees and family reunification. Justin Trudeau’s government has announced plans to increase immigration to Canada by 40,000 people a year by 2021.

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Jolin-Barrette said he wasn’t concerned that the two governments were at odds over this issue.

“We received a clear mandate from the population of Quebec at the last election,” he said. “It was clear that the people voted for a temporary reduction of immigration.”

READ MORE: Canada to raise immigrant intake to 350,000 in 2021: Immigration minister

Jolin-Barrette stressed that the federal government appeared to be in agreement with the Quebec plan to better integrate new immigrants.

The CAQ took heavy criticism for this position throughout the election campaign and continues to take criticism from opposition parties over their position on immigration.

On Wednesday, Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said Quebec has a humanitarian duty to accept more refugees.

“For us, reducing the number of immigrants is a bad policy choice. In an era where climate change and international conflicts generate more and more refugees, we have to have a solidarity attitude,” he said.

In response, Jolin-Barrette said, “I think one of our duties is to have a great welcome also.”

He added, “We need to say to them…’if you come, you will find a job, you will be able to learn French and you will be able to be well integrated.’ And I think we have the same objectives as the federal government on that.”

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