Tue, Jun 18, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Quebec passes major changes to immigration law

AFP, MONTREAL

The Quebec provincial legislature on Sunday approved a controversial immigration bill that will replace a first-come, first-served standard for accepting migrants with one tied to applicants’ skills.

The law is similar to a proposed plan from US President Donald Trump that would shift the US’ visa system from family-based immigration toward bringing in more skilled workers.

The law aims to more closely match the skills offered by would-be immigrants with the needs of the labor market in Quebec, Canada’s second-most populous province.

Under the new law, about 18,000 applications now on file are to be shredded, affecting as many as 50,000 people, many of whom already live in the province.

The 18,000 existing applicants will have to restart the immigration process.

The provincial government has promised to expedite processing of their new applications, saying qualified workers would have answers within six months rather than the current 36 months.

The 62-to-42 vote on the bill took place around 4am at the end of a marathon session convened by the governing center-right Coalition Avenir Quebec, provincial Minister of Immigration and Cultural Commnities Simon Jolin-Barrette announced on Twitter.

“We are modifying the immigration system in the public interest because we have to ensure we have a system which meets the needs of the labor market,” Jolin-Barrette told the National Assembly of Quebec.

All three opposition parties have opposed the measure, calling it “inhuman” and saying that the government did not justify dropping the 18,000 pending applications.

“Honestly, I don’t think this bill will be seen positively in history,” Liberal Party lawmaker Dominique Anglade said, according to the Montreal Gazette. “It’s the image of Quebec which gets tarnished.”

Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s government resorted to a special parliamentary procedure to limit debate over the proposal.

His party won power in October last year with a promise to slash by more than 20 percent the number of immigrants and refugees arriving each year in the province.

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