The “Right Price” of immigration

To see the turn of the debate on immigration thresholds in Quebec, one would almost believe The price is righta popular quiz game that has been on the air for 50 years.

Posted at 5:00 am

When they hear politicians release figures on the number of immigrants the province should accept, they think to viewers of the program that the goal is to predict the price of something, without exceeding it.

The first participant, François Legault, expects 50,000 immigrants per year, he who reduced the threshold to 40,000, to honor his promise in the 2018 elections, before it is reduced to 50,000.

In an impressive reversal of the situation, its Immigration Minister, Jean Boulet, adopted on Thursday that it would be “reasonable” to raise this threshold to 58,000 people … to withdraw overnight. Clearly, dissidence is not tolerated long in the CAQ rankings.

For her part, Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglade is still going strong. To combat the labor shortage, he estimates the province should accept 70,000 immigrants a year.

And the Quebec Employers Council is calling for between 80,000 and 100,000.

Who said better?

We are serious, immigration is not a game show. The host will not be launching his famous “Tara na! to the participant closest to the magic number.

By advancing numbers arbitrarily, according to a partisan logic, we are only encamping positions and accentuating social divisions. It would be more beneficial to hold general meetings to establish Quebec’s true capacity for integration.

Because this popular capacity for inclusion remains a completely vague concept, even if it is proof of everything. No one knows what standard it is based on. No one has measured it yet. There is no clue in the Immigration Plan where the Quebec Government established its annual targets. Mystery and gumdrop.

The Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), which has a good idea of ​​displaying dashboards to measure the evolution of COVID-19 and the state of the health system, should do the same to monitor key immigration indicators.

And we can have nice surprises, because the integration of immigrants has improved significantly over the past 10 years, at least in the labor market. Judge for yourself …

The employment rate of immigrants who have been here for more than five years is now higher than that of people born here. The unemployment rate for immigrants is approaching that of indigenous people, although a gap remains for recent immigrants. And the average weekly income of immigrants almost reaches indigenous workers, with the exception of recent immigrants.

On the socio-cultural side, the situation is less alarming than some believe. If immigrants continue to speak their own language at home, which is quite natural, the situation is different in the public sphere, and that’s what really matters.

Before raising the limits, we must also consider the effects of increasing immigration on the demand for housing, child care services, schools or francization services.

In this regard, Quebec has some assignments to do, as it does not spend all the generous envelopes that Ottawa gives it under the Canada-Quebec agreement on sharing immigration powers.

In fact, federal compensation amounts to 650 million dollars for 2020-2021, according to the ministry of Immigration’s explanatory notebook. But Quebec only uses 589 million “for the purposes of integration and franchising of immigrants”, the Ministry’s annual management report refers to.

If Quebec is really concerned about the ability to integrate, it should start with spending all the money provided by the federal government. And spend it well. Because the Auditor General has already described its francization programs as a failure.

Another good topic of discussion for estate general in immigration …

The Estates General will be an ideal forum to demystify all the complexities of immigration to the general public and provide space for reflection to establish consensus within society.

But the CAQ chose to postpone until next year the public immigration consultation that is supposed to take place this year.

Instead, it prefers to politicize the debate by disclosing to its congress, over the weekend, the results of two studies, however, commissioned by the Ministry of Immigration from outside experts.

Please, let’s not start the debate upside down, with captivating electoral slogans and empty numbers. If we want to find the right balance for immigration limits, let’s stop playing The price is right.

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