February 12, 2019 10:14 pm

Quebec immigration minister defends cancellation, says 18,000 immigration applicants can re-apply

Tue, Feb 12: A total of 18,000 applications for immigration have been cancelled by the CAQ government since last week, including more than 3000 already living in Quebec. That has resulted in panic across the province. Global's Raquel Fletcher has more.

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The Quebec government is defending its decision to cancel 18,000 immigration files last week, despite the outrage it caused. It says a new system, implemented by the Liberal government, is more efficient because it matches applicants with labour needs.

READ MORE: ‘Tinder of immigration’: Quebec outlines plan for how to welcome newcomers

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Even though the Liberals brought in the Declaration of Interest program, replacing the Regular Skilled Workers Program in August, 2018, Liberal MNAs — now the Official Opposition — say cancelling the applications under the old Regular Skilled Workers Program is unfair and dashes hopes of many immigrants already living in Quebec.

Of the 18,000 cancelled and reimbursed applications, 3,700 were from people already living in Quebec.

Liberal MNA Dominique Anglade said her riding office has been flooded with messages from people whose immigration applications were cancelled.

“A woman called us and cried on the phone because she said she’s invested so much time and energy and she says she doesn’t know what to do anymore,” Anglade said.

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

Anglade alleges this decision is a strategy to help the CAQ attain its election promise of lowering the number of immigrants accepted into Quebec.

“So what (Minister Simon Jolin Barrette) is saying right now is, ‘I’m stopping everything.’ Probably it’s for no reason and then you wait, you wait, you wait, you wait and then you’re under 40,000,” Anglade said.

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The government, however, says the opposition is fear-mongering.

“Our bill didn’t change anything… about the statutes of the people who are already here,” said Immigration Minister Simon Jolin Barrette.

The minister wouldn’t admit that the email sent to immigrants last week was confusing and created panic, but on Thursday, he said he asked the ministry to phone those applicants who are already in Quebec to direct them on how to re-apply.

READ MORE: Is the Quebec immigration system making welfare attractive?

“If you speak French and also if you are working right now, you have a fast track,” he explained.

Jolin-Barrette said applicants for the fast-track program will receive a response within 20 days. Other applicants will have a response within six months.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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