Quebec business lobby says province needs more immigrants to meet needs

QUEBEC FLAG

A major business lobby in Quebec is suggesting the provincial government significantly boost planned immigration levels and soften French-language requirements for newcomers.

The Federation des chambres de commerce du Quebec says the province needs about 60,000 immigrants a year, 20,000 more than the government plans on accepting in 2019.

The lobby group will present its brief Wednesday during public consultations into Quebec's 2020-22 immigration policy but gave an advanced copy today to The Canadian Press. Public consultations begin this afternoon at the legislature and run until Thursday.

Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette had cut annual immigration to Quebec in 2019 by 20 per cent from the previous year, to 40,000 people. He announced in June Quebec would aim to welcome about 52,000 immigrants annually by 2022.

The federation says that number doesn't reflect the needs of the labour market. It also says current French-language requirements for immigrants are counterproductive and prevent otherwise strong candidates from being selected.

The lobby group says Quebec should reduce the language requirements and invest more money on teaching newcomers French once they arrive.

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