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Significant Increase in Temporary Immigrants in Quebec as per new report

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Significant Increase in Temporary Immigrants in Quebec

Montréal, February 26, 2024 – The influx of temporary immigrants in Quebec, which accelerated in 2023, has transformed the local job market, as detailed in the latest report from the Institut du Québec (IDQ), “The Impact of Temporary Immigrants on the Employment Market in Quebec: Understanding to Act Better.”

Emna Braham, IDQ’s General Manager, highlights the significant presence of temporary immigrants in Quebec’s labor market, noting the rise in work permit holders from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program from 43,770 in 2015 to 167,435 in 2023. This group is augmented by approximately 117,745 international students with work rights during their studies and a notable increase in asylum seekers granted work permits for humanitarian reasons in 2023.

  • Significant Increase in Temporary Immigrants: From 43,770 in 2015 to 167,435 in 2023, with an addition of 117,745 international students eligible to work, and a notable rise in asylum seekers granted work permits in Quebec.
  • Public Policies Fueling Immigration: The establishment of the International Mobility Program (IMP) in 2015 allowed foreign workers to enter Quebec without a prior job offer, with further regulatory relaxations in 2022 expediting the issuance and renewal of temporary permits.
  • Impact on Quebec’s Job Market: Nearly 100,000 new workers added in 2023 helped alleviate employment pressures, especially in sectors like manufacturing, retail, and food services, as the baby boomer generation retires.
  • Unmet Needs in Critical Sectors: Despite the influx, temporary workers remain underrepresented in health and social assistance and construction sectors, where labor demands are expected to grow.
  • Debate Over Economic Impact: The recruitment of foreign workers is contested for potentially hindering necessary economic transformations such as automation, tech integration, and new business models.
  • Different Immigration Programs: A distinction is made between the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, aimed at specific economic needs, and the IMP, which includes various mechanisms not necessarily aligned with the labor market demands.
  • Candidates for Permanent Immigration: Many temporary immigrants, particularly international students, are viewed as ideal candidates for permanent residency due to their qualifications and local integration.
  • Need for Policy Coherence: The report emphasizes the importance of aligning immigration policies with Quebec’s labor market needs and strategic objectives, suggesting improvements in data collection and policy adjustments.

This surge in temporary immigration impacts the job market, fueled by public policies from both Quebec and Canadian governments designed to facilitate the entry of temporary immigrants. Since 2015, the establishment of the International Mobility Program (IMP) allowed foreign workers to enter without a prior job offer, and regulatory relaxations since 2022 have expedited permit issuance and renewal.

Though immigration has been the main driver of workforce growth in Quebec since 2015, the rapid increase in temporary residents in 2023 has significantly altered the landscape. With nearly 100,000 new workers added in 2023 alone, these individuals have helped alleviate some employment pressures, particularly as the baby boomer generation retires. They predominantly occupy roles in manufacturing (16%), retail (12%), and food services (9%).

However, Daye Diallo, IDQ’s Chief Economist, points out that temporary workers do not fully address labor shortages, especially in health and social assistance and construction—sectors with growing demands. Furthermore, the reliance on foreign workers raises debates around hindering necessary transformations such as automation, tech integration, and new business models crucial for wealth creation.

The report distinguishes between temporary immigrants recruited through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, tailored to Quebec’s economic needs, and those entering via the International Mobility Program, which includes various mechanisms not necessarily aligned with specific labor market demands. Notably, a significant portion of IMP permit holders are international students extending their stay to work in Quebec, positioning them as prime candidates for permanent immigration due to their qualifications, local education, and established networks.

Braham stresses that current immigration policies may not fully align with Quebec’s objectives, particularly regarding high-quality job creation. She emphasizes the need for more coherent policy adjustments, suggesting better anticipation and regulation of temporary immigration, alignment of temporary and permanent immigration policies, and matching immigrant profiles with strategic employment sectors in Quebec.

The report calls for improved data collection on temporary immigrants to enable more comprehensive and current analyses, providing valuable insights for shaping future immigration policies that more closely align with Quebec’s labor market needs and strategic objectives.

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