Nearly 600,000 temporary immigrants in Quebec, a new record

Nearly 600,000 temporary immigrants in Quebec, a new record
Nearly 600,000 temporary immigrants in Quebec, a new record

In the midst of a war of words between François Legault and federal Minister Marc Miller on immigration and the lack of housing, Statistics Canada revealed on Wednesday that Quebec has broken a new record for the number of temporary immigrants.

After the addition of 40,000 people compared to the first three months of the year, the number of temporary immigrants residing in Quebec had reached 597,140 as of 1er april.

This increase of 6.6% in Quebec is one of the strongest in the country, where the average is 5%, and represents almost double that of Ontario, at 3.8%.

A slowdown celebrated by Ottawa

These figures mask a slowdown in the pace of reception: in the final months of 2023, the combined increase in foreign students, temporary workers and asylum seekers had reached 12%.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller, who accused François Legault of “inventing causality” between temporary immigration and the housing crisis, said he was “delighted” by this “slowdown” and its potential impact on housing prices.

Mr. Miller credits this slowdown to his decision to reduce the proportion of temporary residents in the population from 7% to 5% by 2027 and his cap on the number of foreign students, decisions “important for affordability, particularly for the cost of housing.

“It is clear that there will be work to do during the summer to ensure that we correctly contain the number of temporary residents in the country, which has reached historic highs,” acknowledged Mr. Miller.

A quibble over the form…

In response to Mr. Legault, for whom “100% of the housing problem comes from the increase in temporary immigration”, Mr. Miller accused the Prime Minister of making “unfair amalgams” and of “stalking about the backs of immigrants.

Without “denying the volume” of immigration, the Trudeau cabinet minister declared that Mr. Legault “invents his figures” and “invents the causality” between the lack of housing and the explosion in the number of temporary immigrants.

In return, Mr. Legault said Tuesday that there would be “no housing crisis, except holes left and right” in Quebec if Canada had not “doubled the number of temporary immigrants.”

“The result is that [Marc] Miller can accuse all Quebecers of being racist, all he wants… The fact remains that his job is to reduce the number of temporary immigrants by half,” said the CAQ Prime Minister.

…but not in substance

Despite these lively exchanges via media, Quebec and Ottawa agree on the substance of the issue: the significant temporary immigration of the last two years has had a negative impact on both access to housing and collective wealth.

The thing was even included in Chrystia Freeland’s last federal budget, where temporary immigration was presented as “a factor that contributed to the recent decline in GDP per capita.”

The reduction from 7% to 5% of temporary residents set by Mr Miller “will result in much less pressure on housing markets”, it is written in black and white.

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