Quebec immigration minister explains about-face on boosting immigration levels

Click to play video: 'CAQ looks at increasing number of immigrants to Quebec' CAQ looks at increasing number of immigrants to Quebec
WATCH: The Coalition Avenir Québec is looking at boosting the number of immigrants to Quebec. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, the party that campaigned on a platform that campaigned on a platform of lowering immigration seems to be re-thinking that idea – Jun 10, 2019

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government is looking at increasing the number of immigrants who come to Quebec, even though it heavily campaigned on a platform of lowering immigration levels.

In 2018, the CAQ campaigned on decreasing immigration levels to 40,000 newcomers a year, but now the party seems to be re-thinking that idea.

READ MORE: Liberals, CAQ in stalemate over debate on immigration reform

Last week a new government document revealed a new target: between 49,000 and 52,500 immigrants per year in Quebec by 2022. That is the same range of immigrants that were being selected under the Quebec Liberals before the CAQ was elected.

“It’s a proposal,” Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said Monday, adding there will be a consultation period this summer.

Jolin-Barrette was speaking in the committee studying Bill 9, his immigration reform. He hopes to pass the bill by Friday.

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READ MORE: Quebec premier won’t back down over handling of immigration file

The province said lowering immigration levels was always meant to be temporary. In the last provincial budget, the government committed to investing $730 million over five years to help with better integration of immigrants in order to welcome more in the years that follow.

“We also need to give services to immigration (and) temporary immigrants and without the bill, I cannot do that,” said Jolin-Barrette.

The committee studying Bill 9 has been hung up on the same article since last week, which concerns proposed language and values tests.

READ MORE: Quebec politicians could work through summer if decision not made on bills 9 and 21

Jolin-Barrette asked the Liberal Party on Monday afternoon to submit all of its possible amendments to the immigration bill so he could look at all of them at once in hopes of quickly adopting the bill.

However, if the committee does not finish its work by the end of the week, the CAQ government is not ruling out cutting off debate and force a vote to adopt the bill as is.

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