The Government of Quebec has suspended controversial changes to the Quebec Experience Program that took effect November 1.
The province’s immigration minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette, confirmed the suspension in a Facebook post Friday evening after media reports of the decision emerged.
The temporary suspension of the new rules followed a broad public outcry that earlier this week prompted Jolin-Barrette to exempt students and workers already living in Quebec.
The Quebec Experience Program, or PEQ, is a popular fast-track immigration program that allows eligible international graduates of Quebec schools and temporary foreign workers living and working in the province to apply for permanent residence selection.
The new rules would have limited those who can apply for selection through the PEQ to only those graduates in an eligible area of training and temporary foreign workers employed in an eligible in-demand occupation.
These restrictions did not exist prior to November 1 and would have disqualified many previously eligible students and workers in Quebec.
Public outcry led to suspension
The rules sparked a torrent of criticism from affected students and workers as well as universities and colleges and business leaders in the province.
The outcry led the government to first grandfather those already living in the province before moving this evening to temporarily suspend the changes pending a review of the lists governing the eligible areas of training and the occupations that are considered in-demand in Quebec.
In his Facebook post, Jolin-Barrette said the decision to temporarily suspend the changes is meant to reassure those in the academic and business communities, saying the lists in question “will be revised in collaboration with the actors concerned.”
Earlier Friday, a Radio-Canada report identified numerous problems with the area of training list, including programs that never or no longer existed and others that prioritized Canadian citizens.
The decision to suspend the new PEQ rules was welcomed by universities and the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, which had questioned the move to limit PEQ applications.
On Twitter, Michel Leblanc, the chamber’s president, said Quebec Premier François Legault “made the right decision,” adding that international students “can now feel welcome in Quebec and in our businesses. Bravo!”
This is the second time this year that Jolin-Barrette has been forced to backtrack on immigration policy. In February, the CAQ’s decision to cancel 18,000 pending applications to the Quebec Skilled Worker Program with immediate effect led to a court injunction that forced the government to continue processing the applications until the proposed legislation was passed into law.
The grandfather clause will apply to people already studying or working in Quebec on November 1, 2019, and the reforms that took effect that day will no longer be applied retroactively.
The Minister of Immigration stood by the reforms, saying immigration candidates need to match existing labour needs in Quebec.
“What I did in the spring with the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, to select candidates coming from abroad based on their profiles and matching that with the needs of the labour market, we’re going to do the same thing with the Quebec Experience Program,” he said.
When asked if it is possible that the lists used to determine eligibility are flawed, Jolin-Barrette said they come from the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity and reflect the professions that are facing a deficit in Quebec’s 17 administrative regions.
“It’s a list that many governments have used and it’s updated annually based on a five-year employment perspective,” he said.
“When we’re granting CSQs, we have to ensure that candidates truly respond to labour needs.”
On Monday, Quebec Premier François Legault said the list of eligible programs under the PEQ’s Graduate Stream could be revised to address concerns raised by business and academic leaders in the province.
“If it’s necessary to adjust the list, we’ll adjust it,” Legault told Radio-Canada.
From: CIC News
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