CIMM – Quebec Immigration – February 15 & 17, 2022
- Canada and Quebec recognize that immigration is key to meeting labour market needs in critical sectors like healthcare and agriculture.
- We are continuing to work on immigration with the Government of Quebec and support their efforts to address labour market needs, particularly as we all seek to recover from the negative economic impact of COVID-19.
- During the pandemic, the Department prioritized applications from candidates who are in Canada, including those under the Quebec Skilled Workers (QSW) category.
- The Department is working with Quebec on innovative ways to address Quebec’s labour shortages and maintain Quebec’s demographic importance in the country.
- Canada is committed to supporting the French language in Quebec and its distinct Francophone identity through immigration.
Responsive – Processing times
- The Department achieved approximately 50,200 admissions in Quebec in 2021, surpassing Quebec’s original target of 46,000, and fell only 1,300 short of meeting the additional amount of 7,000 added by Quebec to redress the shortfall from 2020.
- In order to reach this goal, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) adapted to the challenges brought by the pandemic by implementing new processes to receive and process permanent resident (PR) applications (i.e. digital intake and scanning of applications) and by targeting and processing clients residing in Canada to support levels objectives.
- In light of travel restrictions in 2020 and 2021, IRCC worked with Quebec to prioritize applications for permanent residence from individuals already living in Canada.
- For 2022, IRCC intends to focus on finalizing the old inventory of applicants living outside of Canada.
- As a result, processing times will appear to be increasing, as applications that are older will be finalized.
- However, IRCC will be able to start 2023 with a significantly reduced inventory, given the high admissions target for 2022.
- IRCC hopes to be able to get back to our processing service standard of 11 months for new QSWs clients by the end of 2022.
Responsive – Case before the Federal Court from Quebec Investor Class applicants
- I can’t comment on active cases currently in the courts.
- 41 individuals are seeking to have their application processed within a timeframe that would be ordered by the Court.
Responsive – Family reunification
- I am aware that Quebec has indicated an interest in selecting members of the Family Class who intend to immigrate to Quebec.
- Any proposed changes will require further analysis in the context of existing agreements with Quebec.
- We would also need to consider whether it would be logical to create different rules for family sponsorship, depending on the province of residence of the Canadian sponsor, considering that it would be easy for sponsors to change their province of residence to circumvent the rules.
Resettlement and asylum
Responsive – Irregular migrants at the border
- I recognize that the majority of asylum claimants between designated ports of entry, both prior to COVID-19 border closures and since the border measures related to COVID-19 were lifted for asylum claimants on November 21, have been intercepted in Quebec.
- The Government of Canada has put in place operational contingency plans to manage volumes at the border and officials are working closely with Quebec to respond to the new flow of asylum seekers.
- Quebec has done substantial work in terms of managing the flow of irregular migrants and in providing temporary housing, social services and education to asylum seekers.
- The Federal government remains committed to working collaboratively with the Government of Quebec to ensure asylum claimants have access to adequate interim housing and other essential services when they first arrive in Canada.
Responsive – Refugee resettlement and Afghan commitments
- Quebec is an active supporter of Canada’s humanitarian traditions through the resettlement of persons in need of protection.
- In 2021, despite the impact of COVID-19 on travel restrictions, more than 1600 resettled refugees – government-assisted or privately sponsored – have settled in Quebec.
- As of the end of 2021, 200 Afghan nationals have settled in Quebec so far.
Responsive – Temporary public policy to grant permanent residence to certain foreign nationals selected by Quebec working in the health care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic (Guardian Angels)
- The Guardian Angels initiative – a joint initiative between our two governments – provides a temporary pathway to permanent residence for refugee claimants providing direct patient care during COVID-19 in the healthcare sector. It was implemented between December 14, 2020 and August 31, 2021.
- In 2021, IRCC admitted close to 1,400 persons who reside in Quebec under this initiative.
- IRCC continues to process the remaining applicants in this inventory, and expects to complete this by the end of 2022.
Responsive – Working with the U.S. to Modernize the Safe Third Country Agreement
- The Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) is an important bilateral tool for managing asylum claims at the Canada-U.S. land border.
- Canada is working with the U.S. to modernize the Agreement, so that it can continue to be a compassionate and fair way to handle asylum claims between our two countries.
Responsive – Temporary Foreign Workers
- In response to COVID-19, IRCC introduced a suite of facilitative measures to support foreign nationals already in Canada to allow foreign workers to change employment more quickly, and enable visitors to apply for work permits without leaving Canada.
- IRCC continues to prioritize the processing of work permits for critical occupations in the agricultural/agri-food and healthcare sectors for foreign workers destined to all provinces.
- Furthermore, the Department is working with the province to create a Quebec-specific pathway that will allow for the issuance of work permits to a limited number of Quebec permanent resident applicants each year, so that they can come to Quebec and enter the labour market pending the processing of their permanent resident applications.
Responsive – Reported allegations of unethical recruitment of Indian students destined to Quebec
- The Government recognizes that international students provide tremendous social, cultural and economic benefits to campuses and communities across Canada.
- I am aware that in November 2020, three international student recruiters were investigated, indicted and charged with fraud, forgery and breach of trust by Quebec’s Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC). They are alleged to have falsified documents to attract international students, particularly from India.
- Following the indictment and charges, in December 2020, Quebec paused the processing of “Certificats d’acceptation du Québec” (CAQ) applications from international students destined to 10 designated learning institutions.
- In January 2021, further to a Court ruling, the province resumed accepting and processing of CAQs for study permits associated with these colleges.
- IRCC continues to process applications from foreign nationals who applied for study permits related to the 10 learning institutions associated with alleged unethical student recruiters.
- IRCC is monitoring the situation regarding three colleges in Quebec that filed for creditor protection. The Department will determine what action, if any, may be needed.
- Each application is carefully assessed on its merits, and additional checks and verifications may be necessary to ensure the application is legitimate, before a final decision is made.
Responsive – International students from Francophone African countries
- IRCC is committed to address the low visa issuance and study permit rates from French speaking countries in Africa and elsewhere to support Quebec’s Immigration Plan for 2022 and Canada’s competitive edge in the world.
- In 2019 both Morocco and Senegal were added to the Student Direct Stream, an expedited processing stream for study permits. Applicants receive faster processing if they submit additional documents in advance with their study permit application.
Responsive – Grant under the Canada-Quebec Accord
- [Please protect until tabling of supps c] For this year, extraordinary COVID-19 expenditures have been removed from the two escalator factors used to calculate the grant adjustment. The annual growth for the 2021-22 payment is 7.2% – representing 6.5% from federal spending and 0.7% from non-Francophone immigrants.
Supporting Facts and Figures
Quebec Skilled Workers
- In-Canada and overseas processing rates for Quebec Skilled Workers (QSWs) in 2020 and 2021:
Quebec Skilled Worker Clients Processed by IRCC by Year
|In PersonsFootnote 1||In CasesFootnote 1|
|Year||Residing in Quebec/ Canada||Residing Overseas||Total||% Residing in Quebec/
|Residing in Quebec/ Canada||Residing Overseas||Total||% Residing in Quebec/ Canada|
Data is operational and subject to change.
- IRCC’s inventory for QSWs (as of January 1, 2022):
|Quebec Skilled Workers||InventoryFootnote 2||Quebec levels plan|
|Prospective InventoryFootnote 3||Processing InventoryFootnote 4||Landing InventoryFootnote 5||Total||2022|
|PersonsFootnote 6||17,587||26,958||4,117||48,662||Target :
27,400 – 28,800
plus reequilibrage 12,700
40,100 to 41,800
(Data source: COGNOS (MBR) extracted as of January 1, 2022)
Data is operational and subject to change.
- Processing times for QSWs for the 12-month rolling period of 2021:
|Immigration Category||Processing TimesFootnote 7|
|Quebec||Rest of Canada|
|Provincial/Territorial Nominees (paper applications)||N/A||24|
(Data source: COGNOS (MBR) extracted as of January 1st, 2022)
Data is operational and subject to change.
As Quebec is responsible for the intake and Levels of QSW, which are paper applications, subject to a 11 month processing time, and as IRCC controls the intake and Levels of FSW, which are electronic applications subject to a 6 month processing time, we cannot compare the processing times for these two programs. QSW is more comparable to provincial programs such as PNP base that are subject to similar intake mechanisms (governed by PTs). Both of these programs (QSW and PNP base) are subject to the same service standard (11 months) in comparison to the Federal stream under Express Entry (FSW, FST, CEC) subject to 6 month processing.
COVID affected all processing times. As the application inventories age, processing times increase, i.e. they remain in the inventory for a longer period.
- Admissions for QSWs since 2018, including a comparison between 2020 and 2021:
|Quebec Skilled Workers||Admissions
(principal applicant + dependents)
|2018||2019||2020||2021||2020 vs 2021|
|Quebec’s Immigration Plan||24,200-26,300||18,000-20,100||21,600-22,000||26,400-27,700||22%-26%|
(Actuals row data source: COGNOS (MBR) extracted as of December 31, 2021)
Data is operational and subject to change, and may not match official admissions figures posted on the Open Data Portal.
- Every year, IRCC plans and adjusts processing operations so that the number of PRs to be admitted aligns as closely as possible with Quebec’s Immigration Plan overall and for each immigration category.
- In many instances where existing inventories and new intake of permanent resident applicants destined to Quebec are not aligned with the levels space allowed under Quebec’s Immigration Plan, IRCC is not able to process all clients in the inventory. This affects the ability to maintain or improve processing times.
- This was the case in 2019 for most lines of business, where IRCC had a significant inventory of cases with added intake and limited levels space to accommodate these clients. Inventories and processing times increased as a result, for which the Department is still seeing the effects.
Quebec’s 2022 levels plan
- On October 28, 2021, Quebec tabled its 2022 immigration levels plan.
- The pandemic had a significant impact on the delivery of Quebec’s immigration plan for 2020 and 2021, similar to the federal plan. Quebec’s 2020 and 2021 shortfalls have been carried over in addition to the 2022 original targets set by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration.
- The maximum in the range in the plan including carry-over is, therefore, 70,500.
- Quebec 2022 immigration levels plan admission ranges in the main immigration categories are as follows:
- Economic: 32,000 – 33,900 (+12,700 in carry-over from 2021, for a maximum range of 46,600) (37.46% increase over 2021)
- Family Class: 10,200 – 10,600 (+1,000 in carry-over from 2021, for a maximum range of 11 600) (1.26% decrease over 2021)
- Refugees: 6,900 – 7,500 (+1500 in carry-over from 2021, for a maximum range of 9,000) (7.78% increase over 2021)
- For 2022, 66% of Quebec’s overall immigration levels plan is economic immigration, in comparison to 53 to 55.5% in 2021 at the federal level.
Meeting Quebec’s 2021 Level Plan
- The Department achieved approximately 50,200 admissions in Quebec in 2021, surpassing Quebec’s original target of 46 000, and fell only 1,300 short of meeting the additional amount of 7,000 added by Quebec to redress the shortfall from 2020 .
- Ranges from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration were met or exceeded in Family Class, Protected Persons and Other Immigrants (Humanitarian and Compassionate and Guardian Angels).
- Admissions ranges were not met in the Economic Class mainly due to the high share of overseas clients in this category that were prevented from travelling due to pandemic-related restrictions.
- The resettled refugee targets were also not met in 2021 given that Canada’s borders remained closed well into June 2021 and these are all overseas clients. The privately sponsored refugees in particular were affected by the global pandemic across Canada, including Quebec destined refugees.
- Despite various challenges related to the pandemic and client behavior, the Department was able to achieve similar admissions volumes as pre-pandemic years, for example 51,100 individuals obtained PR status in 2018.
- Every year, IRCC plans and adjusts processing operations so that the number of permanent residents to be admitted aligns as closely as possible with Quebec’s Immigration Plan overall and for each immigration category.
- In light of ongoing travel restrictions, and as requested by Quebec, the Department prioritized the processing of Quebec applicants who are already in Canada, including those skilled workers selected by Quebec.
- This allowed the Department to maximize admissions in this line of business and meet the initial QSWs original target without rebalancing (23,550).
- As over 90% of the clients in the Quebec Business processing inventory are residing overseas, the available inventory to work from of applicants residing in Canada was very limited, which had a direct impact on resulting admissions.
Afghan refugee resettlement
- IRCC and the Quebec government have been engaging regularly at the ADM and working levels to exchange information and provide advance notice of policy, settlement and operational issues.
- Quebec is supportive of current policies to resettle Afghan refugees and had agreed to welcome Afghan refugees within the parameters of its 2022 levels plan.
- Quebec 2022 immigration levels plan admission ranges for overall government-assisted refugees is 1,650-1700 (+200 in carry-over from 2020 and 2021, for a maximum range of 1,900).
- In 2021, IRCC had challenges in identifying Afghan refugees willing to settle in Quebec. A possible explanation is that refugees choose their final destination based on existing ties to Canada, and only a very small number of Afghan people currently reside in Quebec.
- Quebec has done substantial work in managing the flow of regular and irregular migrants, and providing temporary housing, social services and education to asylum seekers.
- Between 2017 and 2019, more than 85,000 asylum seekers made a claim in Quebec (50,000 between ports of entry, and 35,000 inland and at official land and air ports of entry). In 2020, approximately 9,700 asylum seekers arrived in Quebec.
- On November 21, 2021, Canada lifted the temporary measures restricting asylum claims from foreign nationals seeking to enter from the United States between designated land ports of entry.
- Approximately 5,290 asylum seekers have arrived between ports of entry in the Quebec region since that date.
- In 2019, the Federal government provided $250M in compensation to Quebec for costs incurred by the province in 2017 and 2018 to provide services to asylum seekers. In late March 2021, the Federal government provided $94M in compensation for interim housing costs incurred by the province in 2019 and $30M for 2020.
- Throughout the pandemic, Canada continued to accept asylum claims from individuals who were already in Canada and from individuals who arrived at designated ports of entry and met an exception to the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA).
- On November 29, 2021 the Public Health Agency of Canada imposed mandatory COVID-19 testing for all fully vaccinated asylum seekers arriving between ports of entry without a negative pre-arrival COVID-19 test. In Quebec, all asylum seekers, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, arriving between designated ports of entry are tested upon arrival.
- IRCC continues to provide temporary accommodation and support services to asylum seekers who do not have a suitable quarantine plan. In Quebec, IRCC has increased its hotel capacity to 937 rooms to ensure the Department is operationally prepared to manage an influx of asylum seekers.
- IRCC will continue to work closely with federal and provincial partners to understand and seek ways to alleviate the pressures they may face as a result of any asylum influx.
Canada-Quebec Accord: Roles and Responsibilities
- The Canada-Quebec Accord came into force in April 1991. The objectives of the Accord are to preserve Quebec’s demographic importance within Canada and support the integration of immigrants, while respecting its distinct identity. To this end, Quebec can receive a percentage of all immigrants coming to Canada equal to the percentage of its demographic weight in Canada (currently 23%), and to exceed that figure by 5% of the Canadian total the annual total for demographic reasons. Quebec has yet to take advantage of this potential and, for 2021, its levels plan would have it receive 12% of all planned arrivals into Canada; the 2022 plan aims to increase this percentage (actual percentage depends on levels range for Canada).
- The Federal government administers permanent resident programs. Quebec selects economic immigrants and resettled refugees destined to that province and is also involved in selection of temporary resident permit holder class applicants and administers family class undertakings for applicants destined to Quebec. The Federal government and Quebec jointly provide a labour marker impact assessment to employers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (led by ESDC for the Government of Canada). Quebec is also responsible for the issuance of the Certificat d’acceptation du Québec, required for temporary foreign workers and the International Student Program.
- The Government of Canada remains responsible for determining the admissibility (for health, security, and criminality) of all newcomers to Quebec and for issuing their visas.
- While the Government of Canada is responsible for establishing the total number of immigrants for the country as a whole on an annual basis, it takes into consideration Quebec’s advice on the number of immigrants that it wishes to receive in all classes.
The federal grant to Quebec
- The Quebec government is responsible for the administration, design and delivery of settlement and integration services including pre-arrival, information and orientation, French language training, refugee resettlement services, labour market orientation, foreign credential recognition and support services.
- As part of the Accord, the federal government provides an annual grant to Quebec. Unlike annual funding allocations in other provinces and territories, the federal grant that is transferred to Quebec each year under the Canada-Quebec Accord is not directly linked to the provincial permanent resident intake.
- Instead, the amount of Quebec’s grant is calculated based on two factors:
- net federal expenditures (total federal expenditures), compared to the previous two fiscal years; and,
- the number of non-Francophone immigrants admitted to Quebec compared to the previous calendar year.
- Pursuant to the Accord, the grant cannot diminish from one year to the next. It can only increase or remain constant. The amount provided in any given year becomes the baseline for the calculation the following year. For 2020-2021, the grant provided to Quebec was in the amount of $650M.
Settlement and integration services
- While Quebec is not accountable to the Government of Canada for how it spends the grant, the Accord requires that Quebec must provide settlement and integration services that are comparable to the rest of the country.
- There is an obligation under the Accord to study, at least once a year, reception and integration services provided by Canada and Quebec to ensure that similar types of services are available to all permanent residents who settle in Canada and in Quebec.
To fulfill this mandate, since 2014 IRCC and its Quebec counterpart, the Ministère de l’Immigration, Francisation and Intégration, have jointly carried out five comparative studies, which consistently concluded that there was an overall high level of alignment of settlement and integration services between Canada and Quebec.
- The next comparative study will cover the period from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, including key changes that occurred during the pandemic year. The report is expected to be completed in winter 2022.
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