Demonstrators gathered in Montreal on Monday to protest against changes or reforms to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) proposed by Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette.
The protest took place at Place de la Paix outside Jolin-Barrette’s office on St-Laurent Boulevard in the city.
The Quebec immigration minister plans to make it more strenuous to qualify for the popular program, mainly by increasing work experience requirements.
The changes are Jolin-Barrette’s second attempt at reforming the Quebec Experience Program after he was embarrassingly forced to undo the changes made in fall of 2019.
But demonstrators are equally not happy with the new proposed changes to PEQ, which offers international students and temporary workers with a fast track to Canadian permanent residence.
Under the new proposed changes, temporary foreign workers will need at least three years of experience in the last four, while graduates will require one or two years of work experience to be eligible for Quebec immigration.
The changes will also see target processing times for the PEQ expanded to six months to allow “ better equity and consistency” between the Quebec Skilled Worker Program and the PEQ, according to a press release from the Quebec immigration Ministry (MIFI).
Further changes will see the completion of an advanced intermediate level French course offered in the province by an educational institution taken out as an acceptable proof of French knowledge.
In a further change that will come into effect in a year, spouses or common-law partner of principal applicants will be required to show oral knowledge of French at level 4.
Figures show the number of CSQs rolled out through the PEQ has risen dramatically since 2010.
In 2019, 14,748 CSQs were sent out through the program, compared to the 2010 total of 1,895. In 2019, the number of temporary foreign workers to receive CSQs soared to 9,881 from 5,566 in 2018, an increase of seventy-eight (78) per cent.
Proposed Reforms to Quebec Experience Program
1) Increased Work Experience
Temporary foreign workers will be required to have thirty-six (36) months of full-time work experience during the forty-eight (48) months preceding their request for permanent selection. A transitional measure is anticipated before the new regulations come into effect.
Quebec graduates will require twelve (12) or twenty-four (24) months of full-time work experience to qualify for the PEQ.
Until the regulation comes into effect, those with a Post-Graduation Work Permit can apply via the temporary worker class if they meet the requirements to benefit from the transitional measure.
2) Knowledge of French for Spouses
Spouses or common-law partners of principal applicants will have to demonstrate a level four (4) oral knowledge of French. This measure will only come into effect in a year.
3) Proof of French Ability
A certificate of success of an advanced intermediate level French program offered in Quebec by an educational institution will not any more be accepted as proof of knowledge of French.
4) Processing Time
Target processing times will increase from twenty (20) days to six (6) months, given “the significant increase in requests lodged in the PEQ”.