The Quebec provincial government has backtracked on some of the controversial changes made to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) after an outcry from affected candidates and apposition from the lawyers in the province.
Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette says those already in the province will not be subject to the changes, which came in effect on November 1, 2019.
The PEQ is a fast-track route to a Quebec Selection Certificate for international graduates and skilled workers who have spent the required amount of time in the province.
Prior to the Coalition Avenir Quebec’s changes, all degrees made candidates eligible for the PEQ’s international graduate stream. Under the November 1st changes, the list was limited to 65 bachelor’s degrees, 24 masters, 7 doctorates as well as 59 college diplomas.
The new rules also saw a list of specific ‘in-demand jobs’ for the temporary foreign worker stream of the PEQ.
This meant candidates who came to Quebec through the PEQ, expecting to qualify for permanent residence, suddenly found out they did not as a result of the CAQ changes. Ironically the Quebec government had promoted its PEQ study programs to select communities overseas.
Students and workers joined all three Quebec opposition parties in demanding the changes be rolled back earlier this week.
Jolin-Barrette and the CAQ stood accused of a third time during his tenure, of failing to consider what impact the changes would have on the lives of immigration candidates.
Premier Francois Legault said he recognized the need ‘to be human with people’.
“I understand why Simon wanted to make the changes that are necessary, and we’ll do that in the future for future students,” he said.
“But we also have to be human with people who made decisions with former programs.”
Jolin-Barrette added: “I see all the reaction about people that were touched by that decision so I heard them.”
Quebec’s 2020 Immigration Levels Plan
This is not the first time the CAQ has been accused of lacking compassion with their immigration policies.
Earlier in 2019, the provincial government moved to scrap 45,000 existing applications under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, some dating back as far as 10 years, as it transitioned to an Expression of Interest system.
There was no reprieve for these candidates, who were simply told to reapply through the new Arima portal, although those who were already in Quebec have been given priority in the new system.
Quebec plans to welcome up to 44,500 new immigrants in 2020, an increase from the maximum of 42,000 in 2019.