Ottawa objects to giving Quebec power to force immigrants to settle in regions

MONTREAL — The federal government is objecting to a Quebec proposal that it be allowed to determine where in the province immigrants settle as a condition of their gaining permanent residency in the country.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled Bill 9 Thursday, which lays down a legal framework that would allow the province to be more selective with immigrants. One goal is to have immigrants settle in regions experiencing labour shortages.

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The federal government, however, has the jurisdiction to grant permanent resident status, and it would have to give Quebec more powers for the legislation to have effect.

Federal Intergovernmental Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Thursday in a statement that "more analysis on Bill 9 is needed, however we do not support the reintroduction of conditional permanent residency."

The federal Liberals abolished conditional permanent residency in 2017, which had forced some immigrants to live with their spouses or partners in Canada for two years in order to keep their permanent resident status.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Friday that Quebec should be able impose conditions on immigrants in order for them to be eligible for permanent resident status. "I don't know why we wouldn't be able regain the power that we used to have," he told reporters in Quebec's Beauce region.

Jolin-Barrette says the power to impose conditions on immigrants was granted to Quebec in the 1993 Canada–Quebec Accord on Immigration. He said the previous provincial government of Philippe Couillard renounced that right.

Legault said he is confident Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will come around and grant Quebec more power over immigration.

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