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Politics

Quebec to impose values test for new immigrants

WATCH: Starting in January, all newcomers will have to take a test showing they have proficient knowledge of Quebec-based values. The test will include multiple choice and true or false questions. A minimum score of 75 per cent will be needed to pass. Global's Raquel Fletcher has more.

The Quebec government is moving forward with its contentious plan to impose a values test on future newcomers.

The announcement was made in the province’s Official Gazette of Quebec, a government publication released on Wednesday.

“I think it’s important when you settle in a new society to understand its values,” Premier François Legault told a crowd of reporters.

Quebec premier on values test for immigrants
Quebec premier on values test for immigrants

READ MORE: Trudeau affirms Quebec’s right to ‘test’ new immigrants but won’t comment on the ‘values’ part

As part of the plan, new immigrants to Quebec will have to pass a values test starting Jan. 1, 2020.

Immigrants will be expected to obtain “an attestation of learning about democratic values and the Quebec values expressed by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.”

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Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette explained the test will include 20 questions from several hundred composed by the province. Each test will be different, he added.

“It will never be the same evaluation,” he said.

Jolin-Barrette gave examples of sample questions including the following: Since the government passed Bill 21, every new police officer cannot wear a religious symbol while at work, true or false?

A passing grade for the exam is 75 per cent in order to obtain a Quebec Selection Certificate, which falls under the province’s jurisdiction. Immigrants are able to apply for permanent residency under the federal government once they have that certificate.

READ MORE: Quebec outlines plan for how to welcome newcomers

In the case of failure, an applicant can take the test again after two weeks. If they fail twice, they will have to take a class.

The values test for newcomers was a pledge made by the Coalition Avenir Québec during the provincial election campaign in 2018. It also promised a mandatory French proficiency exam for immigrants to pass within three years of their arrival.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau affirmed Quebec’s right to impose a “test” for newcomers during the federal election campaign, but did not specifically refer to the “values” component. However, when he was later asked what he would consider an inappropriate question on such a test, Trudeau said he wouldn’t “get into hypotheticals.”

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Federal Election 2019: Trudeau says Quebec ‘values test’ is the province’s responsibility
Federal Election 2019: Trudeau says Quebec ‘values test’ is the province’s responsibility

Legault, for his part, defended the test on Wednesday. He likened it to Canada’s citizenship test and interview that is required for all immigrants who wish to permanently stay in the country.

“It’s not very different from the test that already exists,” said Legault.

Legault said it’s important for anyone wishing to live in the province to understand and respect gender equality and secularism. In Quebec, public-sector employees in positions of authority such as teachers, judges and police officers are not allowed to wear religious symbols at work under the CAQ’s Bill 21.

“Do we want people to come live in Quebec who don’t know women are equal to men?” said Legault.

Leaders’ Debate: Question on Quebec ‘values test’ kicks off spirited debate on immigration
Leaders’ Debate: Question on Quebec ‘values test’ kicks off spirited debate on immigration

Jolin-Barrette has also unveiled the province’s plan for immigration in 2020 following public consultations. The government intends to welcome between 43,000 and 45,000 immigrants next year.

The CAQ had campaigned on decreasing immigration levels to 40,000 newcomers a year, but Jolin-Barrette admitted in July it was looking at increasing those levels.

— With files from Global News’ Brian Hill