Quebec Solidaire calls for quieter immigration debate –

Québec Solidaire calls for quieter immigration debate –

Immigration continues to cause debate in Quebec. In an open letter published on Sunday, Solidarity MP Guillaume Cliche-Rivard regrets that certain elected officials mention immigration as one of the causes of the housing crisis, or even as the main cause.

The member for Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne, who had a career as an immigration lawyer before entering politics, claims that some political leaders are cutting corners in this debate and that others are simply hijacking facts.

Quebec has nothing to gain if the immigration debate takes a polarizing turn.

François Legault reignited the immigration debate earlier this week when he called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stem the flow of asylum seekers. Without federal intervention, Quebec's premier believes the province's absorption capacity will soon reach its limits.

That outing has not convinced Justin Trudeau to review his immigration goals, as he aims to welcome 500,000 permanent immigrants to Canada each year.

People sit on folding chairs.  They hold small Canadian flags and cups of coffee.

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An oath-taking ceremony to obtain Canadian citizenship (file photo)

Photo: CBC / Stephen Lubig

For its part, the Parti Québécois said it is considering further lowering its target of 35,000 immigrants per year due to the housing crisis.

The positions of Paul St-Pierre Plamondon and Justin Trudeau are each irresponsible in their own way and risk serious consequences for Quebec's future, believes Mr. Cliche-Rivard, immigration spokesperson for Solidarity in Quebec.

Of the 65,000 immigrants Quebec will welcome in 2024, at least half already have housing in Quebec. For what? Because they come to people who live in Quebec or already live there! said Mr. Cliche-Rivard, referring to students and foreign workers already settled in the province.

The challenge of temporary immigration

However, the Solidarity Commissioner recognizes that the significant increase in the number of temporary immigrants has consequences and that the reception of half a million people has an impact on the housing crisis.

He regrets François Legault's lack of will to enforce the agreement with Ottawa.

The federal government should seek Quebec's consent for all temporary immigrants settling in Quebec, while currently more than half of workers are here without Quebec's consent, he said.

Justin Trudeau has indicated his intention to take back control of temporary immigration to Canada, particularly when it comes to foreign students and temporary workers.

He called on higher education institutions and companies to find housing solutions for these temporary residents themselves.

The increase in the number of asylum seekers also poses a major challenge. The Border Services Agency and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada processed a record number of 144,035 applications in 2023, including more than 65,500 in Quebec, according to the latest data from Ottawa.

This is an increase of more than 56% compared to the 92,000 applications filed in Canada in 2022.

Asylum seekers on Roxham Road in 2023.

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Asylum seekers on Roxham Road in 2023.

Photo: The Canadian Press

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon suggested to François Legault that full immigration powers be returned to Quebec, while in his opinion the federal government was in a complete ideological error on the immigration issue.

Quebec must finally be respected by the federal government […] And we also need to find common ground with Ottawa so that all provinces make their fair contribution to the reception of asylum seekers, says Guillaume Cliche-Rivard.

In addition, Québec Solidaire is calling for a committee of experts to study the issue of Quebec's absorption capacity in order to set a realistic target for immigration. To solve the housing crisis, he also suggests speeding up housing construction.