Québec Solidaire added its voice to the mounting opposition to Bill 9 — the Coalition Avenir Québec’s immigration bill — on Sunday.
Tabled two weeks ago at the National Assembly by Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, the proposed legislation is aimed at changing how the province accepts immigrants. The bill includes the implementation of a French language test and a Quebec values test.
Jolin-Barrette also announced the cancellation of 18,000 immigration applications filed under the Regular Skilled Worker Program.
Speaking at a rally organized in support of the affected immigrants, Québec Solidaire MNA Andrés Fontecilla called the decision “unjust and arbitrary.”
Fontecilla’s message was echoed by fellow MNA Ruba Ghazal.
“We feel like the government is making bad decisions, as if they don’t understand how the immigration system works,” she said.
Québec Solidaire is accusing the government of not upholding its end of the bargain, arguing that the concerned immigrants played by the rules, filing all the required paperwork in what is sometimes a long and arduous process.
“They are following qualified worker programs so they did all that they should do, and some of them are learning French,” she said. “Unfortunately, the government did as if, ‘OK what you did is not important, start again.'”
Québec Solidaire is not alone in its thinking: a group of immigration lawyers has filed for an injunction to stop the cancellation of the applications.
WATCH: Fighting Quebec’s immigration bill
Lawyers argued that Bill 9 had not yet been passed into law and that the province should continue to process the applications under existing laws.
Olga Redko, one of the lawyers fighting for the injunction, said the decision to cancel the files has had a devastating impact for thousands of people and that remedial action is required.
“The decision of the minister not to process these files has an immediate impact so we need the court’s intervention right now,” she said on Friday.
Government lawyers countered that if the matter were so urgent, an injunction should have been filed sooner.
Québec Solidaire is hoping the government will reverse its decision, accusing the administration of playing a numbers game in the search for the perfect immigrant.
“It’s important the government sees the lives behind these applications,” Ghazal said. “It’s not only papers — it’s real people, families, children.”
Rosalei Gaaneordiaga, Sheriel Bautista and Marine Ttebautista, who are friends, attended Sunday’s rally. All three came to Quebec from the Philippines under the live-in caregiver program.
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Gaaneordiaga, who has been working in Canada for five years, expressed surprise after receiving an email last Feb. 7 stating that her application for the Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ) had been suspended.
The trio said they don’t understand why their applications were suspended, as they didn’t apply under the skilled worker program.
Now, they say, they are living in limbo.
“We can’t bring our family. We can’t be a permanent resident if we don’t have CSQ,” said Bautista. “We don’t know what will happen to us.”
—With files from Global’s Dan Spector, Kalina Laframboise and Amanda Jelowicki