Immigration Minister Jolin-Barrette unveiled his new version of the Quebec experience program, known as PEQ during a press conference in Quebec City on Thursday.
The popular immigration program makes it easier to acquire permanent residence in Canada.
In November, the minister announced a controversial reform of the PEQ, which contained a list of eligible jobs for immigrant candidates. The goal was to match candidates with the specific economic needs of Quebec.
Soon thereafter, the Coalition Avenir Québec government announced it was suspending controversial reforms to the program following public outcry over the changes tightening the rules around program eligibility.
Some criticized him for not having consulted anyone before developing his reform.
On Thursday, Jolin-Barrette said he had heard the criticisms and listened to the arguments from concerned groups, the business world and that of education and had dropped the list.
Under the new rules, to qualify for the PEQ, candidates must have more work experience.
Temporary foreign workers present in Quebec must accumulate 36 months of full-time work experience during the last 48 months preceding their application to be elgibile for permanent residence. Before the changes, they needed one year of full-time work experience.
Foreign students already in Quebec, with their diploma in hand, must acquire 12 or 24 months full-time experience before applying for permanent residence.
The requirement for knowledge of French has also been boosted.
Applicants must demonstrate their level of knowledge. In addition, the applicants’ spouses must be able to demonstrate that they have a level 4 knowledge of French (on a scale of 12). Level 4 is the ability to hold a conversation.
The ministry is committed to processing requests within six months.
The new version of the PEQ has been well received by the business community.
The Metropolitan Montreal Chamber of Commerce and the Conseil du patronat especially welcomed the decision to open the program to all areas of training and employment.
Liberal MP Moncef Derraji questioned the government’s approach, particularly with regard to a pilot-project announced Thursday, whereby the Quebec government seeks to hire 550 orderlies from abroad to work in its long-term care facilities, in the context of a border closure due to the pandemic.
“Is this how we are going to respond quickly to the shortage of labor? I want to remind you that several countries where we used to recruit, there are no flights yet,” he said.
“How are we going to go on recruitment missions? How are we going to recruit these people in French-speaking areas, knowing that gatherings are prohibited in these countries?”
— With files from Global’s Annabelle Olivier