Originally published: March 22, 2016
A survey conducted in 2013 revealed that only 40 per cent of McGill undergraduates remained in Quebec after graduation. These results reflect a worrying trend in regards to the province’s ability to retain newcomers, a problem which is partly responsible for its steady decline in population growth rate. In an effort to alleviate this issue, Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil recently outlined a new policyaimed at streamlining the immigration process and improving the retention of foreign talent in the province. Parallel to Weil’s plans, proposals around immigration policies have been stirring up on the federal stage as well: Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship John McCallum has stated that the Liberal government will bring in up to 305,000 permanent residents by the end of 2016, with an increased focus on family reunification and refugee settlement.
The federal government’s decision to shift their priority from economic immigrants to families and refugees has attracted criticism. Since the main reason for economic migrants to come to Canada is in search of job opportunities, they are portrayed as benefitting the nation’s economy, which in turn will bring in more immigrants. But in the case of Quebec, the issue is not so simple due to strict language requirements. But as section 95 of the Canadian Constitution states, immigration policies are a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments. As such, it is possible that the federal government’s immigration policy will complement Quebec’s policy objectives—especially given the factors that cause new Canadians to leave Quebec.