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Ottawa will be able to bypass Quebec's thresholds for family reunification

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller has warned his Quebec counterpart, Christine Fréchette, that officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will now process applications for family reunification, even if the ceiling of 10,400 people applied by Quebec for 2024 is outdated.

Impatient with delays in family reunification, the federal government is now threatening to circumvent the thresholds imposed by Quebec. A “direct affront” to the Quebec nation and the Canada-Quebec Agreement on immigration, retorts the government of François Legault.

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller sent a letter to his Quebec counterpart, Christine Fréchette, on Sunday to warn her of his intentions. Claiming to have “a moral duty to find a solution to this issue”, he writes that officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will now have the authorization to process applications for family reunification, even if the ceiling of 10 400 people applied by Quebec for 2024 is exceeded.

“I would ideally have liked to find a solution in collaboration with your government,” underlines the liberal elected official in his missive. “However, given that we have not found common ground following your refusal to revise your thresholds upwards to reunite families more quickly, […] I have decided to instruct my ministry to process applications for permanent residence from applicants for family reunification who have received a CSQ [Quebec selection certificate] issued by your ministry. »

Around 20,500 people currently fit this description. Marc Miller assures that he can process their files in accordance with Quebec's quotas, but only if the Legault government does not increase the federal burden by issuing new CSQs.

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If the pile of requests grows, argues the Liberal elected official, IRCC will have no choice but to ignore Quebec's targets. A decision which constitutes a “direct affront to Quebec’s areas of jurisdiction”, according to Christine Fréchette. In a written statement on Monday, the CAQ minister strongly condemned the “unacceptable” strategy of Justin Trudeau’s government in this area. “Quebec is the only one to determine its permanent immigration targets. The federal approach does not respect the will of the Quebec nation,” she recalled.

Years of waiting

In December, the waiting time to settle permanently with loved ones in Quebec reached 41 months. The 1991 Canada-Quebec Agreement on Immigration stipulates that the federal government processes applications for family reunification, but that Quebec can establish annual thresholds for permanent immigration.

“Our immigration plan was adopted in November 2023 in the National Assembly of Quebec. Our targets were adopted following a parliamentary consultation, and it is not up to Ottawa to impose them on us. Such a decision would have a considerable impact on Quebec's permanent immigration thresholds,” argued the Minister of Immigration on Monday, the day after receiving her counterpart's letter.

“The federal government should respect the government of Quebec and the will of the Quebec nation, as much in the issue of secularism, as much in the issue of immigration, as much in the issue of family reunification” , added his colleague Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, at a press conference in Shawinigan.

The exchanges took place on the social network X on Monday morning. Responding to Ms. Fréchette, Mr. Miller questioned her assertions that Ottawa was acting directly within Quebec's jurisdiction in matters of immigration. “However, articles 13 to 16 of the Canada-Quebec Accord say quite the opposite in matters of family reunification,” he stressed.

These provisions of the Agreement indicate in particular that “Canada has sole responsibility for admitting immigrants in the family and assisted relatives classes.” However, the same treaty means that “Quebec informs Canada, […] each year, of the number of immigrants it intends to welcome during the same year(s) to come.”

Delays in processing requests for family reunification caused Minister Fréchette to be sued in Superior Court last week. The applicant in this case, Kaba Keita, requests through his lawyer, Me Maxime Lapointe, that the immigration levels in the family reunification category be modified to allow faster processing of files.

The CAQ minister assures that she is “working on possible solutions”. “A first meeting with the Quebec reunified collective took place in December to explore development options that respect the prerogatives of the Quebec government,” she declared on Monday.

On .

The spokesperson for Québec solidaire on immigration, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, once again encouraged Quebec to reopen the Canada-Quebec Accord to renegotiate it in its favor. “Ministers Miller and Fréchette are playing politics while Quebec families suffer,” he lamented.

The liberal immigration critic, André A. Morin, for his part, called on the two levels of government to talk more to each other. “It is urgent that the CAQ government put itself in solution mode and have a real dialogue with Ottawa, which cannot act alone on this issue,” he said in a written statement.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116