Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by reading out the motion again. Its simplicity conveys the essence of the message we want to send to Quebec, but also to the entire territory represented by members of the House.
That the House call on the government to review its immigration targets starting in 2024, after consultation with Quebec, the provinces and territories, based on their integration capacity, particularly in terms of housing, health care, education, French language training and transportation infrastructure, all with a view to successful immigration.
Over the next few minutes, the relevance of the year 2024 will become clear. The motion's key words are “successful immigration”. I like to think that, in these matters, our position is akin to that of Quebeckers, and maybe even to that of Canadians, judging by recent polls and numbers.
I personally believe that Quebeckers do not identify with any extreme. I will not go into too much detail because I want everyone to remain in good spirits. Suffice it to say that some extremes have very few supporters. Between both extremes, there are people who are not loud or spectacular enough to attract much attention from the media. We identify with those people a lot more. We hope that these people also identify with the Bloc Québécois a lot more, which explains the consensual wording of the motion. We will see how consensual it is come voting time.
I think the matter of immigration must be approached dispassionately. Seeing that the Bloc Québécois was raising the issue of immigration, the media expected fireworks. That was definitely not our intent when drafting and tabling the motion.
Voters are calling on us to do something. A growing number of voters and people across Canada are getting more and more concerned. They are not anti-immigration, they are not vindictive and they do not have a negative attitude. They are expressing concern about the fact that the process Canada is using to accept immigrants greatly exceeds the actual capacity of Canada, Quebec, the provinces and territories to welcome them—I will come back to that—and their ability to adapt to this new reality.
More and more people are being born into this world and, to them, it feels like the world is getting smaller and smaller. However, each year, in the span of just a few months, the world's population consumes all the renewable resources and lives for the rest of the year on ecological credit with climate change and many violent clashes. My esteemed colleague referred to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees only a few minutes ago. People will migrate. People will move away, hoping for a better life. I submit to the House that the well-being of those who come to a new place in search of a better life for themselves and their families must be the primary objective of any decent immigration policy.
This is not to be confused with the anti-immigration stance some say Quebec is displaying. That kind of talk has died down somewhat because, now that Toronto and Vancouver are worried, Quebec has a right to be. In reality, people want a better understanding or need to feel that they will adapt to all of this and that public finances will as well.
Ottawa is backing itself into a corner by diving headfirst into this kind of postnational, multiculturalist philosophy where identities are blurred, undefined, sometimes non-existent or deliberately non-existent. Canada has every right to do that, but Quebec does not have to make that same mistake.
How can Canada claim to be the welcoming land it aspires to be when its capacity to provide basic services is crumbling? Looking at it from here, from the federal Parliament, it looks easy. However, it is the provinces and Quebec that are getting stuck with the bill for the vulnerable workforce that, at times, the Liberals and Conservatives used to share. That may be about to change.
We must have the courage to try something different and acknowledge the failure. We must have the courage to acknowledge that Quebeckers and Canadians are worried. This demands that we propose a different approach, based on a different set of measurements and a different vision. It also demands ways to measure success.
Immigration is not measured by the number of people who enter a territory. Success itself is the measure of immigration success, hence the Bloc Québécois's new propensity to talk about “successful immigration”. That has to be measurable. At the moment, the tools needed to take such measurements do not seem to exist.
How many people hold a decent job that will match their qualifications and life plans after one, two or five years? How many people who have chosen to live in Quebec, or who are living in Quebec after arriving through immigration channels, are adequately or even minimally proficient in French after one, three or five years? How many people who arrive here as asylum seekers will be sleeping on the streets of Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver this winter with no fixed address? These kinds of measurements are not available to us, but we believe they are necessary if we want to determine whether immigration, as it is practised in Canada, is or is not a success.
Canada will have no moral authority to discuss immigration or the success of immigration in numbers rather than as a welcoming country until its own first nations live in conditions of safety, prosperity, opportunity, security or cultural continuity that Canada does not currently offer them. There is a kind of problem with moral authority that is lacking.
Do we focus too much on numbers? I think so. Is that the definition of successful immigration? I do not think so. We will therefore continue to push this concept.
Not so long ago, as I mentioned, doubts about immigration were associated with xenophobia or racism. I am confident that this is now a thing of the past. It was harmful, unhealthy and, at times, decidedly malicious. Now that public opinion throughout Canada is evolving, reflecting and asking questions, we have moved on.
Of course, in Quebec, there will still be a single variable. Quebec is the only society on this continent, apart from the United States and Canada, that defines itself as a nation. It is a territory, a history, a set of values, an economic model and, in support, of course, a language.
However, a major paradigm shift is taking place. It has to do with looking at immigration through the prism of economics, as well as roles and responsibilities. It was presented to us as a need, an ambition. The goal is 100 million Canadians by the year 2100. It has been said and could be said again, and we will see after the vote, that Canada wants to welcome immigrants for its own sake, somewhat selfishly, to keep its economy going. Of course, immigration brings people here, people who will be workers and will be happy to work. However, should we look at immigration primarily through the prism of a labour supply that, if only because of sheer numbers, will be more vulnerable?
I think we need to look at immigration from the perspective of what we are offering as a nation to those who choose to come to Canada or Quebec, on this planet that I described as too small. We need to look at immigration in terms of those who migrate, those who flee, those who dream of something better, those who are migrants before they are immigrants. Migrants do not tend to join the workforce right off the bat. They are people who hope for something better.
We have the duty to provide them with that. We need to make this type of immigration successful in both Quebec and Canada. If Quebec's model is different, then so be it. The Canadian and Quebec models still have some commonalities. They are subject to the same risks. The planet seems to be getting smaller. People are going to move. Quebec and Canada will welcome some of those people. We must not be blind in our approach. No one, neither Canadians nor Quebeckers, intends for national cultures to disappear.
What we need is to grasp the concepts of successful integration, contribution and the emergence of national cultures that are not made up entirely of the cultures of the immigrant communities nor of those of the host community. That creates a different substrate that evolves and improves while maintaining some fundamental things in common. In Quebec at least, those things are the French language, certain values, secular government institutions, and a much more environmentally friendly approach than is found in most other places, particularly Canada. The parties trying to deny Quebec those things are out of touch with reality.
There is also another factor to consider. There are real economic issues. Let us go over a few figures that, thanks to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, are rough estimates. We understand that Canada's goal is to accept 500,000 immigrants through the so-called regular process by 2025. There was a bit of speculation as to whether there would be slightly fewer in 2026. The minister was rather vague on this point.
Lowering this number by 30,000 immigrants would not change much. It would not change much because it is still the smallest segment of the total number of people who either will immigrate this year to Canada, including Quebec, or who do not have regularized or permanent status. These include 800,000 international students. Unfortunately, when it comes to international students, francophone African students are still experiencing vicious discrimination that hurts them and francophone universities alike.
There are tens of thousands of temporary foreign workers here, roughly 80,000 to 90,000, who are more than welcome. There may be as many as one million people that the government has completely lost track of. Nobody knows for sure where they are. There may be over 300,000 in Quebec alone. Adding it all up, even using conservative estimates, means that there are over two million people in Canada who are either immigrants this year or who have no established, fixed or permanent status. Even if this number were reduced by 30,000, the impact would be relatively moderate.
What do we have to offer that is better than going into hiding for so many of them, better than homelessness for still too many of them, better than a tenuous livelihood and falling prey to businesses that will not hesitate to exploit these people's vulnerability?
There is also an impact on government services. In the area of health, which is a provincial jurisdiction, the necessary transfers are still being withheld because Ottawa wants to impose centralizing conditions. There is the impact of the additional pressure on an education system that is already experiencing quite a few problems that people will try to address with long overdue investments that should have been dealt with sooner. Child care will, of course, be under pressure. The social safety net is one more issue. I mentioned homelessness earlier. Of course, public transit is also under pressure. To add to all this, there is the simple fact that the Department of Immigration has well over a million files waiting to be processed. Let us give these poor people a break.
Then there is the housing crisis. Some things are beyond our control, but others are not. We must, of course, refrain from blaming anyone, and I think that everyone is refraining from that. The more people we have, the more it will contribute to a housing crisis that has been created or exacerbated by other causes. Some things are beyond our control, but others are not. The number of people we take in is something that is appropriate for us to control. The type of housing that will be offered to reduce the pressure on the housing stock is something that can reasonably be controlled.
It is a question of labour, but it is also a question of prices. I only want to mention this quickly, because I imagine he has realized it, but, not that long ago, the Minister of Immigration was telling us that these people are going to immigrate to Canada, get to work and build their own homes. The week after that, I hope they are going to build their own hospitals, their own schools, their own public transit and their own sewage systems. They are going to have work to do when they get to Canada. That is not the way to run a common-sense immigration policy.
There is also an economic impact on inflation. It has to be said. Again, it would be a stretch to blame immigration for inflation. However, it would be inappropriate not to go through the steps of a purely mathematical calculation to determine the pace, number and impact that this may have. There is something to consider there, too.
On the economic front, one of the issues I raise most often is recognizing credentials. Highly qualified people arrive from abroad, wanting to make a life for themselves in Quebec and Canada, but their credentials are not recognized. They end up taking jobs that, as I said, are more fragile and vulnerable. That is not what we want.
When I talk about economic integration in Quebec, I always mention language. Our first duty and responsibility in Quebec when we welcome someone is to give them the fundamental tool they need to happily and harmoniously integrate into Quebec society. That tool is, of course, knowledge of the French language.
When people from the Century Initiative or McKinsey or other advisers around the Prime Minister's Office created projections or fantasized about having a population of 100 million Canadians by the end of the century, they did not consider French as a variable. I asked Mr. Barton, and he answered candidly that they just did not look at this issue and it did not exist for them. I have the impression that they are stuck in that mindset. We will have to make it clear that the long-term survival of French matters.
Finally, as far as foreign students are concerned, I think that we should listen to the point of view of the countries they come from. These countries are happy that their students are looking for training here. They are happy when the students who receive training here return home and contribute to the development of their society. They generally accept that a certain number of them decide to integrate into society in the place where they received training. It is not up to us to unilaterally decide that issue. We must listen to the countries these students come from.
We need to rethink the paradigms, stop with the accusations and epithets, recognize the role of the provinces and Quebec, and renounce the terrible impact of the fiscal imbalance, which is preventing the provinces from adequately funding services. We cannot deny the singular effect of all this in Quebec, but this does give us an opportunity to restore people's confidence. Successful immigration would replace purely quantitative immigration, which weighs on the state, the economy and the well-being of applicants. So-called postnationalism means the end of identities and of the diversity that communities care about more than the unique traits often asserted under a disembodied charter.
Canada may not want to be a responsible society in how it welcomes immigrants, but Quebec can be and wants to be that society. Despite everything, and regardless of the outcome of the vote on this motion, I must point out that it would be so much healthier and simpler if we each had our own policies on immigration and everything else.