With applications backed up, Quebec aims to bring in 70,000 immigrants next year
Government's decision was 'unexpected' according to head group representing province's employers
The Quebec government is pledging to make up for the drop in immigration during the first year of the pandemic by welcoming about 70,000 newcomers to the province in 2022.
According to a document released on Thursday, Quebec's Immigration Ministry wants to welcome 49,500 and 52,500 new immigrants next year, in addition to processing 18,000 applications currently backed up, to "help meet Quebec's workforce needs in several key sectors."
The province only took in about 25,000 people in 2020, well below its target for that year of about 44,000. At the same time, businesses are now struggling to hire workers.
In a statement, the Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ), which represents Quebec employers, said it was "surprised" by the announcement, but that it's a welcome change.
The Coalition Avenir Québec party promised to slash the number of immigrants settling in Quebec by 20 per cent during the 2018 provincial election campaign. In 2019, only about 40,000 newcomers settled in the province.
"On many occasions, the government sent ambiguous signals in regards to immigration," said Karl Blackburn, the president of the CPQ.
"But today, it finally confirms that immigration is indeed an essential solution to deal with the labour shortage."
The government wants 65 per cent of the people that will arrive in 2022 to be what it calls economic immigrants.
Although the province is trying to make up for immigration numbers that dipped in 2020, it expects to reach its target for 2021, welcoming between 44,500 and 47,500 people.