Quebec's party leaders offer competing views on immigration amid labour shortage

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Quebec's main party leaders are offering competing views on how many immigrants the province should accept each year as it grapples with a labour shortage.

Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon proposed this morning to slash immigration levels to 35,000 per year in order to protect the French language and Quebec culture.

His plan comes as business groups around Quebec have urged the political parties to accept more newcomers if they're elected on Oct. 3 in order to fill what they say is more than 200,000 vacant jobs around the province.

But Plamondon rejected the idea that more immigrants will help ease the labour crunch, saying the new arrivals also consume goods and services, which in turn requires yet more workers.

Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade says Plamondon is clearly "disconnected" from the reality on the ground and is not listening to employers who are struggling to find workers.

She's proposing an initial immigration target of 70,000 a year if she's elected, then plans to work with individual regions to determine their real needs going forward.

Quebec's official permanent immigration levels have been set at between 40,000 and 50,000 annually in recent years, but the province will take in nearly 70,000 immigrants in 2022 to make up for shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault told Radio-Canada in a televised interview Sunday night that he believes the province can integrate a maximum of about 50,000 immigrants per year if it wants to protect French.

That number, he said, still makes Quebec one of the places that accepts the most immigrants in the world relative to its population.

Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, meanwhile, suggested on the same TV program that he believes the province could accept between 60,000 and 80,000 newcomers.

The Quebec Conservative party has proposed gradually reducing immigration targets while working to increase automation in the workplace and raise Quebec's birth rate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 5, 2022.

The Canadian Press