Quebec, Canada to accept record number of immigrants in 2012

Quebec unveiled their immigration plan for 2012 this week, stating the province will continue to grant a record numbers of visas to immigrants, despite complaints that it's not doing enough to integrate newcomers, many of whom don't speak French.

Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil announced Tuesday that Quebec would let in between 51,200 and 53,800 new arrivals in 2012 with the same number of immigrants expected in 2013 and 2014.

"The idea is to seek diversity," she told reporters, adding Quebec companies can gain a competitive edge by attracting people with different backgrounds speaking different languages.

About 18,900 of those arriving next year are expected to be unable to speak French.

A study released last month, conducted by Montreal's Institute for Research on Public Policy, shows that Canadian citizens still welcome newcomers immigrating toCanada. According to the report, about 58 percent of people questioned in Canada support the current levels of immigration. Additionally, Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the Prairies surpassed the rest of Canada with their support for immigration and are above the country average with more than 62 percent support.

Opponents of the immigration increase believe they should stop admitting large numbers of immigrants until they can be better integrated into the French majority. 

Weil disagreed with capping immigration numbers and noted that having people with a diversity of backgrounds speaking different languages can give Quebec companies a competitive edge.

According to the 2012 Immigration Plan, immigrants with skilled worker visas will also take jobs left vacant; Canada's aging population means fewer Canadians in the workforce. Additionally, the government will work to increase the level of knowledge of French among applicants for skilled worker visa category.

Under the Canada-Quebec Accord on Immigration, Quebec establishes its own immigration requirements. However, Citizenship and Immigration Canada make the final decision on whether or not to grant the visa.

Weil said that the government will continue to seek immigrants who speak French already and make an effort to teach those who do not while integrating them into Quebec. She aims to have 65 percent who can already speak French when they arrive.

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