The National Assembly’s opposition parties are demanding that François Legault’s government backtrack on its modifications to the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ). Thousands of students and workers have been plunged into a state of calamity. They were encouraged to come to Quebec with the promise of a fast track toward permanent residency, but they no longer know what the future holds for them.
Last week, without anyone seeing it coming, Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette announced that the PEQ program would henceforth only apply to a narrow list of study programs and areas of training. Thousands of students and foreign workers learned that their study program or area were no longer eligible within the PEQ, thus leaving their immigration dreams in shambles.
The Minister cannot deny the hopes of thousands of students who paid full price for their education and who were enticed by Quebec’s advertising campaigns which encouraged them to study here.
Nor can he negatively impact Quebec businesses that welcome foreign workers, train them and hope that they will be able to remain in Quebec on a permanent basis.
In a context of workforce shortages such as we are experiencing, it is simply unacceptable to risk these talents choosing to relocate to other Canadian provinces or countries.
It is a heartless, inhumane decision that will shatter lives. These people have invested thousands of dollars in their education and then from one day to the next they are told that they are no longer wanted here in Quebec. These are young people who are well integrated in society, who speak French, who work here and may have even started a family here. This is an injustice and a stark lack of compassion toward these young people.
– Monsef Derraji, MNA representing Nelligan and Official Opposition Critic for SMEs, Innovation and Immigration.
Once again the Minister is acting in an inhumane and insensitive manner. Mr. Jolin-Barrette is targeting people who live in Quebec, who study in Quebec, who work in Quebec, who are working toward a diploma. There were promised they could stay and are now being shown the door. I am asking the Minister to immediately reverse his decision and allow the thousands of students to stay and contribute to building Quebec.
– Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Parliamentary Leader of Québec Solidaire
The changes to the PEQ are counter-productive. We have been asking the government to prioritize immigrants who have already settled in Quebec, who are already integrated; those criteria correspond perfectly with the profiles of the students who benefit from the PEQ program. These kinds of measures are not the way to remedy workforce shortages, maintain dynamic CEGEPs and universities and help our regions continue to develop.
– Méganne Perry Mélançon, MNA representing Gaspé and Parti Québécois Critic for Immigration