The pandemic has affected all of Quebec, but the new version of the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ), announced last Thursday by Simon Jolin-Barrette, has given the coup de grace to tens of thousands of immigrants and reveals a vision worrying for the future of Quebec.
Since the devil is in the details, let’s meet him.
In this new version of the PEQ, any Quebec graduate will be asked for one to three years of professional experience before being able to apply for permanent residence.
However, depending on the diploma obtained, the duration of professional experience required may exceed that of the work permit issued at the end of the diploma; It will therefore be very complicated for these students to stay in Quebec after their studies.
In addition, this reform places Quebec on the same level as the other provinces, where a year of professional experience is already required before applying for permanent residence.
Quebec could boast of being a province where it was easier to settle after his studies, this will no longer be the case. For Quebec, this has very concrete consequences: its educational establishments will suddenly lose their competitive advantage.
A sizeable number of CEGEPs and universities are partly funded by the high tuition fees paid by foreign students. We are thinking particularly of CEGEPs in the regions and of all the Quebecers who attend them, for whom educational opportunities could decrease, along with the number of international students in the province. They would benefit from choosing other provinces, which would benefit from their expertise.
For workers, the picture is even more grim. Where the rest of Canada requires one year of work experience (or less in some provinces) before being able to apply for permanent residence, Quebec will now require three years.
However, most open work permits do not even cover this period.
To get three years of experience, you would have to go through a closed work permit. These permits are rare and take up a lot of time and money for the employer, which is a major obstacle to attracting talent.
In addition, these permits prevent workers from changing employers or leaving a job, or risk having to leave the country; the abuses linked to these permits are well documented.
With this reform of the PEQ, Quebec would be depriving itself, for at least the next few years, of thousands of skilled workers.
These workers will go where they can get less precarious status, that is, any other province in Canada.
Quebec would also be depriving itself of thousands of workers whom we have qualified as essential for several months. In fact, people with jobs in categories C and D will no longer be eligible for the PEQ. The pandemic has shown the government that these workers need to be valued more.
However, he decides not to open its doors to them.
We are at a turning point in our history, after a pandemic that has reset many counters. It’s an ideal time for all of us to reflect on the Quebec of tomorrow.
Several generations of immigrants have enriched and made Quebec a place we love; it is difficult to think that we can get out of the COVID-19 crisis without them. This reform illustrates an unambitious vision for the future of our province. So this is the “new normal”?
* Signatories: Claire Launay, associate advisor in public affairs, arrived in Quebec in 2011; Thibault Camara, data scientist, arrived in Quebec in 2014; Clément Sageste, actor and student of photography, arrived in Quebec in 2015; Fanny Lemaire, architect, arrived in Quebec in 2018; Aurélie Bellisi, researcher and director, arrived in Quebec in 2018
Co-signers: Catherine Fournier, MP for Marie-Victorin, born in Quebec; Andrés Fontecilla, Member of Parliament for Laurier-Dorion, who arrived in Quebec in 1981; Julius Gray, lawyer, arrived in Quebec in 1957; Noémie Veilleux, president of the Quebec Federation of College Students, born in Quebec; Jade Marcil, president of Union universitaire du Québec, born in Quebec; Bochra Manaï, graduate doctor from the National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS) and professional in the community, arrived in Quebec in 2009; Cheolki Yoon, Center for Immigrant Workers (CTI), arrived in Quebec in 2011; Simon Telles, president of Force Jeunesse, born in Quebec