Quebec, with its own set of selection criteria, different programs, and the ability to choose its skilled and experienced workers from overseas, holds more power compared to any other province in terms of its ability for influencing its immigration.
The Francophone province almost voted for becoming an independent state within the country in 1995, with a modest 0.58% of votes as the deciding force to reside in the Dominion of Canada. It is crucial to note that the drivers who shaped the call for the 1995 referendum are the same ones that led the province of Quebec to the power it has held over immigration today – forces deeply rooted in the culture and history of Quebec.
1971 – 1991: The Negotiation for Immigration
According to the Constitution Act of 1867, immigration has held a special place among powers, which is being controlled at federal as well as provincial levels. However, there is no province today that holds as much sway over its immigration as the Quebec province does.
The formation of the immigration ministry in Quebec signaled the province’s declaration that controlling immigration to the province was the main issue. It was not just for economic reasons but to preserve the French language and Francophone culture as a primary concern as well. Therefore, the province would recruit Francophones from across the globe during this period.
Quebec, between the years 1971 and 1991, would frequently renegotiate its provincial authority over immigration, leading to four primary pieces of legislation that would shape the powers of Quebec:
1971’s Lang-Cloutier Agreement
It was the first piece of Canada-Quebec immigration legislation. This agreement allowed the province to have representatives in the Embassies of Canada, and for overseas immigration counseling, mostly heralding administrative changes to the role of Quebec in Canadian immigration.
1975’s Andras-Bienvenue Agreement
This agreement gave the province a part in the process of choosing immigrants, letting Quebec conduct interviews and make recommendations to visa offers as well. This was a great milestone for the Canadian province, as the legislation protected in the law meant the federal government would now have to take Quebec’s opinion into account for every new application for immigrating into the territory.
1978’s Cullen-Couture Agreement
It extended the same rights to temporary immigration, defining its criteria for selecting immigrants, and giving the Canadian province even more control over immigration to its borders.
1991’s Gagnon-Tremblay-McDougall Agreement
Also called the Quebec-Canada Accord, this agreement signified the biggest achievement for Quebec immigration in the history of the province. Under this legislation, the province of Quebec gained a complete process of selecting immigrants (especially economic immigrants) to its borders and the integration as well as francization of these people in Quebec.
From the Past to the Future
A rapid historical summary of the immigration policy in Quebec evidences that one of Quebec’s major concerns is the preservation and promotion of Francophone culture as well as the French language.
In 1977 Bill 101 (The Charter of the French Language) was established. A massive political milestone in the Quebecois landscape, this legislation piece made it so that French became the province’s everyday language. The majority of immigrant children would now be attending French-speaking schools above English-speaking ones.
In June 2022, this Charter was updated with Bill 96, which extended further the emphasis on the French language in the province. At present French is the exclusive communication language between the Quebec government and its residents. Moreover, communication between businesses and their clients and customers, labeling of products, and contracts with the civil administration in Quebec are to be exclusively in the French language.
Why Does this Matter to You?
Comprehending why the immigration policy in Quebec differs from the rest of the country is the major step for anybody willing to immigrate to Quebec. With the emphasis the province placed on French and Francophone culture, immigrants hailing from similar backgrounds may witness greater success when trying to immigrate, settle, and reside in the province compared to others in Canada. This is when they are able to meet the economic criteria laid out by the government of Quebec.