François Legault to address concerns about immigration cuts, but poll shows wide support for CAQ plan

A CROP poll estimates that 64 per cent of Quebecers agree, or strongly agree, with the idea of reducing the province's immigration cap to 40,000 annually.

In major speech this week, premier will announce measures to speed up recognition of credentials

Quebec Premier François Legault is expected to make a speech at the National Assembly on Wednesday, affirming his priorities. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Premier François Legault will outline measures this week aimed at easing concerns that cutting immigration levels will worsen Quebec's labour shortage.

In a major speech to be delivered Wednesday, Legault will announce policy initiatives to speed up the recognition of skills and work experience of immigrants, especially in rural areas.

The speech will also offer details about how the government intends to encourage more immigrants to settle outside of Montreal, government sources told Radio-Canada.

Quebec's legislature opens its first-ever session headed by a CAQ government on Tuesday. It will sit for two weeks before breaking for Christmas. 

During that time, the government is expected to table an economic update and move forward with amendments to Quebec's cannabis law, including raising the minimum age of consumption from 18 to 21.

The Coalition Avenir Québec government has already moved ahead with its plan to reduce immigration levels by 20 per cent, a key campaign promise. 

Alain Giguère, CROP's president, said that Legault succeeded in convincing Quebecers to support his immigration plan. (CBC)

Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette opened negotiations recently with the federal government that could see the province accept roughly 12,000 fewer immigrants as early as next year. 

Poll shows support for CAQ's immigration plan

Legault, moreover, will be able to point to a new poll that suggests a strong majority of Quebecers support his immigration plan.

The poll, conducted by CROP between Nov. 14 and 19, estimates that 64 per cent of voters agree or strongly agree with the idea of reducing the province's immigration cap to 40,000 annually.

The same percentage, according to CROP, agree with the CAQ's claim that fewer immigrants will allow the government to integrate them better. 

Only 43 per cent agreed with the claim that reducing immigration would worsen the labour shortage. 

Alain Giguère, CROP's president, said that he wasn't surprised by the results of the poll, considering the support Legault was able to command during the election.

Around two-thirds of people not only agreed with Legault's plan, but also said they supported his justification for it.

"I guess Mr. Legault has been able to convince Quebecers that we don't do our job properly when it comes to integrating immigrants," said Giguère.

Despite concerns about how the labour shortage might affect the economy going forward, Giguère said that most respondents weren't swayed by that factor.

"Many companies are desperate to find people to work for them," he said. "Even that point of view doesn't convince Quebecers. There's a minority of Quebecers who believe that we need more immigrants to fill all these jobs."

CROP's findings are based on answers provided by an internet panel of 1,000 people.

With files from Martine Biron and Matt D'Amours