“I liked everything in Quebec, I did not want to leave”, launches Saïd – a supposed name because the person concerned preferred to remain anonymous. He says he moved with two friends to Ottawa in early November. “My whole class left too” adds this holder of the diploma of professional studies (SoC) in the medical secretariat.
Saïd arrived in Montreal in January 2019, with the aim of finding a better life than in his country of origin, Algeria. Nearly three years later, he therefore settled in the Canadian capital, Ontario, being one of thousands of foreign students or young graduates who left Quebec.
Obligation to find work quickly
How to explain this exodus? It was a reform carried out in 2019 by the government of the Prime Minister of the province of Belle, François Legault, which changed the situation. New version of the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) thus provides that anyone graduating after December 30, 2020 must now prove twelve to eighteen months of work experience in Quebec before applying for permanent residency.
“I felt a real rejection from that moment. I speak good French, I have many friends, strong connections. “My life is in Montreal.” protest tha. Faced with this new situation, he chose Ottawa, a city “bilingual” and is located just 200 miles to the west, to start from scratch, to find work in his field, and to settle down.
Processing times and political climate
For Kamal Kadhi, an immigration consultant in Montreal, this change in PEQ is the first reason after the gradual abandonment of Quebec by North Africans. “Before you could go to college [DEC] and apply for permanent residence. Only one year of experience was required from the workers. “It is now longer and more complicated.” explains the counselor.
This specialist of Moroccan origin puts forward several other explanations: long processing times after applying for permanent residence in Quebec – more than two years, compared to six months in another province – waiting to obtain a temporary work permit – currently five to nine months -, Ottawa incentives to attract French-speaking graduates and workers, and the political climate in Quebec, where the current government “uses immigration to get elected”.
Lack of manpower
One last element that Saïd confirms. “It’s like a wall being built [au Québec]. “However, people who leave have a status and speak French.”, sorry. Kamal Kadhi agrees: “Other provinces strive to thrive when Quebec takes care of the protection of French and religious symbols.”
However, labor shortages are evident in many sectors – particularly in the health sector, where authorities are seeking to recruit 4,000 workers in the Maghreb alone. The general shortage is expected to last until 2028, especially due to population aging. To overcome this, the business world continues to demand a significant increase in immigration thresholds.
For their part, some collectives like “Le Québec c’est nous aussi” are asking the federal authorities to urgently certify “51,000 records” to stay permanently waiting, to make up for delays and to start over. For the group, the people who wait, sometimes for more than two years, are already integrated into the province and already have a job. For this topic, Ottawa and Quebec spend money on their responsibility.
Other provinces are looking for Francophones
Despite all this, Quebec remains the destination of choice for most North Africans, says Kamal Kadhi. “Many give a bad publicity to Quebec, but without English it is difficult to live in another provincehe says. “Even in Montreal, there are fewer options for non-English speakers.”
The federal government continues to want to pull Francophones out of Quebec, giving them more points when applying for permanent residence. In the spring of 2021, Canada announced the granting of 90,000 permanent residency statuses to graduates and workers “essential” of Canada, favoring the files of French-speaking immigrants. “Many left thanks to this law”there are many Saïd.
For his part, Kamal Kadhi advises those interested not to believe the rumors. “Above all, you have to look at your priorities: do I speak English? Is there a demand in my industry in the province I want? ” liston consultant. Once permanent residence has been obtained – without lying in his file – he reminds us that everyone is free to travel anywhere in Canada, and consequently return to Quebec after having had an experience elsewhere.