Quebec Immigration Plan Hotly Contested by United Nations Agency

UN Agency Urges Quebec To Stop Refugee Restriction Plan

With the amount of displacement around the world reaching devastatingly high levels, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is appealing to the province of Quebec to open its doors and halt plans to restrict the number of refugees it accepts.

Despite the number of refugees fleeing war, persecution, and conflict exceeding 70 million last year — the highest in almost 70 years, the Coalition Avenir Québec government is looking to roll back the number of refugees it accepts to 7,500 this year and maintain this number until 2022.

This is the lowest number of refugees the province has accepted since 2014.

This new restriction on refugees is part of the province’s plan to cut back the number of immigrants accepted into Quebec by 20 percent this year.

If all goes according to plan, the province will decrease the number of immigrants to 40,000 people in 2019 but will slowly increase the number to 52,500 people by 2022.

According to CBC, a representative for the UN agency, Jean-Nicolas Beuze, recently spoke in front of Quebec’s National Assembly during a hearing to study the province’s immigration plan and asserted that Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette appeared to consider asylum seekers a “burden” on Quebec society.

We have to be careful about this dichotomy, which tends to say refugees are a burden, as you are trying to emphasize right now.Jean-Nicolas Beuze, UN representative

Beuze argued that admitting more refugees is “not only good for the refugees. But it’s also good for the province and for the country because they contribute to the society — economically and socially.”

He also referenced research which states that refugees are more likely to stay in Quebec than newcomers who arrive under the province’s economic immigration stream and stated that refugees are more eager to learn French and more likely to settle in the less populated regions outside Montreal.

Jolin-Barrette, who is presiding over the immigration plan hearings, argued against Beuze’s testimony, and rejected the implication that the Quebec provincial government views immigrants for their economic benefits, and categorizes some as “good” immigrants and others “not as good.”

Jolin-Barrette said he rejects this logic, adding that Quebec has spent millions of dollars to help asylum seekers and refugees settle in the province.

Following the hearing, CBC reported that Jolin-Barrette told reporters that he wanted to be clear about the fact that “Quebec society has always done what it has to do for refugees and asylum seekers, and we will continue to do that.”