Aligning Workers' Lives with the Profit Motive and Vagaries of the Market Place

For years now, governments in Canada have played havoc with the lives of foreign workers by continuously changing the programs and regulations through which they seek to permanently settle in Canada. In Quebec, various governments have adopted regulatory amendments altering the number of points allotted for certain selection criteria and raised the points threshold applicants must meet to qualify for a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ) in order to apply for permanent residency. Those amendments, once adopted, take immediate effect and have been consistently applied retroactively to a backlog of thousands of application requests, despite the fact that those wishing to settle in Quebec spent time, money and a lot of painstaking effort in preparing their forms, certain they would qualify for residency.

Evidence of the inhuman government treatment became clearly known on February 19, 2018 when the Superior Court of Quebec authorized a class action against the Minister of Immigration and the Government of Quebec with regard to the Quebec Regular Skilled Worker Immigration Program. The authorized action alleged that the defendants were unjustly enriched, committed a tort, and acted in bad faith by refusing to offer to reimburse the application fees paid by those class members whose CSQ applications were doomed to failure as a result of amendments to the Regulation respecting the weighting applicable to the selection of foreign nationals.[1] A settlement agreement has since been reached and the Court will be hearing an application for approval on June 19.

Before the June Court hearing, on February 7, Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette introduced Bill 9, an act the government fraudulently said is "to increase Quebec's socio-economic prosperity and adequately meet labour market needs through successful immigrant integration." The proposed legislation would allow the Minister to "impose conditions on the foreign national which affect the permanent residence granted under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act," to ensure, among other things, "the meeting of regional and sectoral labour needs, the regional or sectoral creation of enterprises or the financing of such enterprises, or the foreign national's linguistic, social or economic integration."

As part of the government's development of "reception, francization and integration programs" for immigrants, foreign workers would be forced to learn about and be tested on so-called democratic and Quebec values as a condition for permanent residency. This violates the right to conscience in as much as applicants must either agree to imposed values or fail the "test." Quebec citizens are not required to swear allegiance to values at this point in time and dividing the polity on this basis is unacceptable. Only the people themselves can express their values, which can certainly not be defined and imposed by those who, without the consent of the people, claim to act in their name.

Through Section 20 of the proposed legislation, the Legault government is attempting to terminate a backlog of some 18,000 CSQ applications filed before August 2, 2018 under the Regular Skilled Worker Program, if on February 7, the date of the bill's introduction, the Minister had not yet made a selection, refusal or rejection decision on the application. As if this provides redress for playing with people's lives, the legislation says "Any required fees paid by an applicant having filed such an application must be returned, without interest, to the applicant." The same section also stipulates that "No damages or indemnity may be claimed from the Government, the Minister or any of their subordinates or mandataries in connection with such an application."[2]

To counter the Legault government's move to stop handling the backlog of CSQ applications, the Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l'immigration (AQAADI), which includes some 250 immigration lawyers, filed an application for an injunction with the Superior Court of Quebec. They argue that Quebec's Immigration Minister "acted illegally in suspending the handling of the pending Regular Skilled Worker Program (RSWP) applications" for a CSQ. They also argued that the decision "jeopardized the immigration plans of tens of thousands of candidates, close to 6,000 of whom are already living in Quebec." They sought the injunction to "direct" the Minister to immediately resume evaluating the applications. AQAADI also argued that the Minister has no discretionary power or other statutory authority to refuse to handle the backlog of CSQ applications. "Far from it -- the refusal ensues solely from the premature application of a bill that has not yet been adopted by the National Assembly and therefore has no binding force."

On February 25, the Superior Court of Quebec issued a provisional interlocutory injunction ordering the Minister of Immigration to continue handling the backlog of 18,000 CSQ applications. In response to that order, Immigration Minister Jolin-Barrette released a statement declaring that his ministry "will respect the decision of the Superior Court of Quebec. The Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness will continue to handle and take decisions relating to applications for a [QSCs] within the framework of the Regular Skilled Worker Program until the adoption of the bill."

The bill is expected to be adopted before the National Assembly's summer recess in mid-June, which once again means that the files of thousands of CSQ applicants could be permanently terminated, with no legal recourse afforded them. This inhumanity is becoming increasingly intolerable. No society can afford to permit such things as governments which act with impunity in the name of the rule of law.


1. Quebec Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness.

2. Quebec National Assembly website, Bill 9, An Act to increase Quebec's socio-economic prosperity and adequately meet labour market needs through successful immigrant integration.

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 17 - May 11, 2019

Article Link:
Aligning Workers' Lives with the Profit Motive and Vagaries of the Market Place - Diane Johnston


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