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Quebec to get 10 times more than B.C. and Ontario to settle immigrants

April 24, 2021

Quebec will be handed roughly 10 times more taxpayer dollars from Ottawa to settle each one of its immigrants than B.C., Ontario, Alberta and the other provinces.

The pandemic is further distorting an already lopsided and increasingly bizarre three-decade-old accord with Ottawa that this year will provide Quebec with roughly $20,000 to support each new permanent resident to the province.

Meanwhile, each new permanent resident set to move to B.C. will be allocated only about $1,800 in settlement services, which include language training, assistance with housing and job counselling.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada settlement allocations show, in addition, that Ontario will be handed about $2,000 this year to support each of its new immigrants.

“If I were the other provinces, I would be really, really angry about it,” says Stephan Reichhold, who heads the umbrella organization that oversees 150 settlement agencies in Quebec.

“The other provinces can complain. They can make public statements that it’s not fair,” Reichhold said, explaining that the ever-widening transfer disparity is rooted in a funding formula embedded in the 1991 Canada-Quebec immigration accord.

The upshot of the accord is that Quebec, despite reducing its immigration levels two years ago, will nevertheless be handed a whopping $650 million to help settle the 30,000 to 35,000 new permanent residents it expects in 2021.

Meanwhile, the settlement allocations show all the other provinces and territories combined are this year scheduled to receive $741 million to help integrate about 370,000 new permanent residents, based on Ottawa’s target, which is a record 401,000 immigrants for 2021.

B.C. is set to receive only about $109 million, even while it is projected to take in more than 65,000 new permanent residents, about twice as many as Quebec.

Ontario, which normally takes in 45 per cent of all immigrants to Canada, will be transferred just $372 million, far less than Quebec.

It all adds up to mean, said Reichhold, that Quebec, which accepts only one-tenth of the country’s new immigrants, will receive almost as much transfer money as the other nine provinces and three territories combined.

Vancouver-based Chris Friesen, chair of a national umbrella association that represents immigrant serving agencies across the country, said the gross imbalance in immigrant-support payments is yet another reason he and others are calling for a national dialogue, possibly a royal commission, into the country’s immigration policies.

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