Opposition to State-Sanctioned Human Trafficking

Quebec Association of Lawyers Opposes Coercive Measures on Workers Seeking to Immigrate to Quebec

The Association des avocats et avocates en droit de l'immigration (AQAADI) appeared before the Quebec National Assembly's Committee on Citizen Relations on February 26, to discuss Bill 9, An Act to increase Québec's socio-economic prosperity and adequately meet labour market needs through successful immigrant integration.

On behalf of AQAADI, immigration lawyer Guillaume Cliche-Rivard opposed the government's planned use of coercion against workers seeking to immigrate to Quebec, as this would place people in a position of insecurity as to whether they would be able to maintain their permanent resident status. "A foreign national becomes a permanent resident of all of Canada, not of a city or of a profession," he stated. Rendering permanent residency conditional based on regionalization or sectoral labour needs would violate Article 6.2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms whereby permanent residents have the right to move to and to take up residence anywhere in Canada, he added.

Cliche-Rivard continued, saying the same right applies to a person's job. People cannot be forced to take a job or be threatened with losing their status upon losing their job. "The potential withdrawal of residency will affect children, families, people who may have to leave Quebec because they no longer respond 100 per cent to your conditions," he said.

Members of the Association des avocats et avocates en droit de l'immigration appear
before the Quebec National Assembly's Committee on Citizen Relations.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette argued that prior to 2016, conditional permanent residency had existed in Quebec's immigration law. "For a people, for a nation, it is fundamental that it has its say with regard to immigration to Quebec. Therefore as of the time that a person is selected, based on Quebec criteria, obviously Quebec is able to impose certain conditions, as is the case with the federal government when someone is granted citizenship. And that is a choice that we make [...] to re-introduce an article that was part of the powers of the Quebec government."

Acknowledging nonetheless that a permanent resident could not be forced to settle in a specific region, the Minister suggested that such power could be exerted in the case of a business for a person accepted as an immigrant-entrepreneur, forcing the person to establish that business in various Quebec regions. The measure "could be used to ensure that people know French," he added.

Québec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette before Committee.

Cliche-Rivard replied by pointing out the government's contradictory claim that its conditions do not impose localization: "Read your own words because that is precisely what you are saying: 'We are placing conditions in order to ensure [...] the meeting of regional and sectoral labour needs.' Now if that is not an imposition of localization, then please explain to us what is meant by 'the regional or sectoral creation of enterprises.'"

The Minister did not reply.

The AQAADI also challenged the Minister regarding the backlog of 18,000 applications for permanent residency. The AQAADI has successfully obtained a temporary injunction in the Superior Court of Quebec forcing the Minister to continue dealing with these files. The demand requires the government to finish handling the paper applications, involving some 4,500 files sent to the Ministry before December 2015, as these files are complete. It then suggests that the 3,700 internet applications from those presently residing in Quebec be dealt with, as these are people on a work or study permit who directly correspond to the needs of the labour market and have already demonstrated their capacity to integrate. Regarding the remaining 10,000 applications, pointing to the fact that there are at present 120,000 jobs to be filled in Quebec, AQAADI proposes that a quick evaluation be made as to how many qualify based on the evaluation grid currently in use, last modified in August 2018.

(Photos: Quebec National Assembly website)

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 16 - May 4, 2019

Article Link:
Opposition to State-Sanctioned Human Trafficking: Quebec Association of Lawyers Opposes Coercive Measures on Workers Seeking to Immigrate to Quebec


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