(Quebec) After a first immigration reform decried by the opposition, which melted the number of international students who stay in Quebec at the end of their studies, the Legault government wants to correct the situation. It will once again revise its programs in order to encourage French-speaking foreign students to stay in the province to begin their professional life there.
The office of Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette reiterated Wednesday that it is currently reviewing the programs. Radio-Canada reported that new changes would be made to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ), which had been the subject of a controversial reform by Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette during the last CAQ mandate. Minister Fréchette would modify the conditions of access to the PEQ, considered a quick route to permanent residence, in order to improve the attractiveness of the program for French-speaking graduates.
By tightening the eligibility criteria for the PEQ in recent years, the number of foreign students who have submitted an application to access the program has increased from 5,465 in 2020 and to 2,268 in 2022. In the eyes of the opposition, it This is a failure of the government, which should instead encourage these qualified foreign nationals, who studied in Quebec, to stay in the province.
“This PEQ reform was imposed by Simon Jolin-Barrette to respect François Legault’s ideological promise of a threshold of 50,000 per year. It was not possible to meet this target without turning off the taps of the PEQ, a program that was nevertheless crowned with success, “said the head of Québec solidaire (QS), Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
“It measures the extent of the failure of the CAQ government. That is so many people who, on a human basis, were ready to invest in Quebec […]. What we are asking for is a step back, the complete abandonment of this bad CAQ reform that will have made us lose three years, ”added the parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), Monsef Derraji.
“The PEQ, the way it was managed in the Simon Jolin-Barrette era, it was a terrible fiasco. […] We must succeed in getting Francophone students, trying to interest them in staying after their studies,” added Pascal Bérubé of the Parti Québécois (PQ), stressing that these students were important for post-secondary institutions in regions where the population locale is no longer enough to fill the classes.
Over the next few months, Quebec will also begin multi-year consultations aimed at establishing the next immigration thresholds. During the election campaign, Prime Minister François Legault declared that it would be “suicidal” in his eyes to welcome more than 50,000 permanent immigrants a year. His government has since set itself the goal of welcoming exclusively French-speaking or Francotropic immigration by 2026.