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Ottawa opposes giving Quebec power to force immigrants to settle in regions

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled Bill 9 Thursday, which lays down a legal framework that would allow the province to be more selective with immigrants. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The federal government is objecting to a Quebec proposal that it be allowed to determine where in the province immigrants settle as a condition of their gaining permanent residency in the country.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled Bill 9 Thursday, which lays down a legal framework that would allow the province to be more selective with immigrants. One goal is to have immigrants settle in regions experiencing labour shortages.

READ MORE: Quebec outlines plan for how to welcome newcomers

The federal government, however, has the jurisdiction to grant permanent resident status, and it would have to give Quebec more powers for the legislation to have effect.

Federal Intergovernmental Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Thursday in a statement that “more analysis on Bill 9 is needed, however we do not support the reintroduction of conditional permanent residency.”

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The federal Liberals abolished conditional permanent residency in 2017, which had forced some immigrants to live with their spouses or partners in Canada for two years in order to keep their permanent resident status.

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Quebec drops immigration targets by 20 per cent – Dec 4, 2018

Quebec Premier François Legault  said Friday that Quebec should be able impose conditions on immigrants in order for them to be eligible for permanent resident status. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t be able regain the power that we used to have,” he told reporters in Quebec’s Beauce region.

Jolin-Barrette says the power to impose conditions on immigrants was granted to Quebec in the 1993 Canada-Quebec Accord on Immigration. He said the previous provincial government of Philippe Couillard renounced that right.

Legault said he is confident Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will come around and grant Quebec more power over immigration.

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READ MORE: Quebec Immigration Minister working on French-language, values test for newcomers

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