The number of immigrants to Quebec has increased by nearly 150,000 in 2022, the largest increase in its history. This mark smashes the peak of 98,000 reached in 2019, according to the most recent data from the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
This explosion of immigration is mainly due to a marked increase in the number of non-permanent residents, whether temporary workers, foreign students or asylum seekers. Their number increased by 86,735 in 2022, up sharply from the balance of 63,076 in 2019, the year before the pandemic. The balance represents the difference between the number of people who came to settle in the country and those who left the country.
The other factor for the increase comes from permanent immigration, which will be significantly higher in 2022. The annual immigrant threshold has been set at 50,000 by the Legault government. But as this level was not reached in 2020 and 2021, due to the pandemic, we are witnessing a catch-up which has swelled their ranks by 62,787 people last year.
The number of non-permanent residents living in Quebec has grown markedly since 2016. The total is difficult to calculate, for various technical reasons, but based on estimates produced by Statistics Canada, the Institut de la statistique du Québec established at 262,500 their number in Quebec, on January 1, 2022, an increase of 1,350 people compared to the same date in 2021.
With the data available on the balance for the whole of the year, we can thus estimate the total at 349,235 non-permanent residents, at the end of 2022. But this total, which relates to different categories of permit holders, does not does not take into account people who are on the territory without a permit and without status.
After experiencing a moderate and relatively stable level, around 3,000 to 4,000, from 2010 to 2015, the increase in the number of non-permanent residents has accelerated since 2016:
This number dropped drastically during the two years of the pandemic and was even negative in 2020. It was only in 2022, and especially in the second part of the year, that the progression really resumed.
Half of these non-permanent residents are temporary workers, according to Statistics Canada. This group includes low-skilled workers, for example in agriculture, admitted through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, but has a greater number of people admitted under the International Mobility Program for skilled workers. . The share of asylum seekers is 29% and that of foreign students 20%.
The number of asylum seekers, which reached more than 59,000 last year in Quebec, has been high, in particular due to the worldwide notoriety of Roxham Road, closed on March 25 following the renegotiation of the Safe Third Country Agreement.
This is what economist Pierre Fortin believes. “There will be many, many fewer asylum seekers entering Quebec,” he explains. As a result, the balance of 86,735 permanent residents is likely to decline. »
According to Mr. Fortin, the number of 155,422 immigrants, permanent and temporary, admitted in 2022 is “transient” and “will go down by 40,000 or 50,000”.
That said, Quebec is not the only province to record an increase in non-permanent residents. Their numbers have grown exponentially across the country.
By the end of 2022, there were 608,000 more non-permanent residents than the previous year, according to the federal agency. Ontario had the most, 306,000, followed by British Columbia, with 99,000.
This is how Quebec welcomes a proportion of non-permanent residents that is lower than the weight of its population within Canada. In 2022, Quebec, whose demographic weight is 22.3%, hosted 14% of non-permanent residents. But the proportions of each category vary greatly. In Quebec, there were 52% of asylum seekers in the country, because of Roxham Road, but 18% of temporary workers and 12% of foreign students.
However, there is an important difference between Quebec and the rest of Canada, namely that the Canadian government aims to increase its economic immigration targets and welcome 500,000 new permanent residents as early as 2025. non-permanent residents can follow this logic, especially since foreign students and temporary workers constitute a privileged pool for the government to choose future immigrants.
“Temporary immigration is the royal road to permanent immigration,” says economist Pierre Fortin.
The situation is different for Quebec, which does not support the Canadian government’s ambitious immigration goals and does not want to raise its own immigration thresholds. But who, in fact, happens to do so indirectly by welcoming 350,000 non-permanent residents on its territory, a record number.