Family reunification | Ottawa threatens to raise thresholds

(Ottawa and Quebec) Dissatisfied with the processing times for permanent residence for family reunification in Quebec, Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller authorized his officials to increase, if necessary, the threshold for this category. His Quebec counterpart, Christine Fréchette, accuses him of leading a “direct affront to Quebec’s areas of jurisdiction”.

The federal minister announced his intentions in a letter sent on Sunday to Fréchette, with whom he has had vigorous public exchanges in recent days on the social network X, citing a “moral duty to find a decision on this issue”.

He claims to have taken this decision unilaterally due to the refusal of his interlocutor to revise the thresholds upwards “to reunite families more quickly, and being also aware of the very significant repercussions that such delays can have on the applicants”.

“I would like to inform you that 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), the equivalent of approximately 20 500 requests as of January 31, 2024,” he writes.

The gap in processing family reunification requests between Quebec and other provinces can have “a significant impact for families who are waiting for their loved ones,” he explains in the letter that The Press was able to consult.

Processing times in Quebec for parents and grandparents, for example, are 50 months, while outside Quebec, they are 24 months. For spouses and common-law partners living in Canada, they are 26 months in Quebec and 9 months outside Quebec, he lists in the missive.

These delays have continued to accumulate in Quebec, and Minister Marc Miller had already complained of having his hands tied because of Quebec quotas. A few days ago, Minister Fréchette was also taken to court for this reason.

The processing of these requests will be completed over a period of three years, specifies Minister Miller.

The ceiling established by the Quebec government for 2024 in this category is 10,000.

” This is unacceptable ”

For Christine Fréchette, this decision by Minister Miller “is unacceptable”. “Quebec is the only one to determine its permanent immigration targets. The federal approach does not respect the will of the Quebec nation,” she said Monday in a written statement sent to The Press.


Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette.

“Minister Miller’s directive is a direct affront to Quebec’s areas of jurisdiction. (…) This is unacceptable. 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,” indicated Frechette.

Furthermore, government minister Legault affirms that the provincial government is “sensitive to the situation experienced by families awaiting family reunification” and that it is working on “possible solutions” on the subject. She did not specify which ones.

“A first meeting with the Québec Réunifie collective took place in December to explore development options that respect the prerogatives of the Quebec government,” indicates Mme Frechette.

Last December, The Press reported that the collective in question, which has more than 1,100 members, had surveyed 230 people awaiting a decision on family reunification to document their situation. Three-quarters were Canadian citizens and the other quarter held permanent residence. Almost all of them (99%) were able to accommodate the person they wish to bring to the country.

“A Canadian citizen has fewer rights in Quebec than a temporary resident,” lamented among others Nathalie Coursin, member of Quebec reunified, in the context where non-permanent residents, temporary foreign workers and foreign students can come to the Quebec with their spouses and children.

Families relieved

For thousands of waiting families, this news is greeted with relief.

“We are delighted to see that the situation of families is taken seriously by Minister Miller. We thank him for his gesture, but we hope that the words and the gesture will go hand in hand and that it will give concrete results,” declared the spokesperson for the organization, Marie-Gervais Pilon, in an interview.

“We also hope that Minister Fréchette will take note of the fact that Quebec’s thresholds are causing Quebec families to suffer and will, therefore, act so that this crisis is finally resolved,” she added.

Mme Pilon herself submitted a sponsorship request to bring her British husband to Quebec. She teaches English literature at Montmorency College and her husband is a university professor in England. “I got involved in this cause because I find it completely unfair,” she said.


Joane Alexandre, in Haiti: “Until now, nothing is moving for me.”

For her part, Joane Alexandre, stuck in Haiti, hopes that the news from Minister Miller will allow her to find her Quebec husband and their 6-year-old son. In his case, the sponsorship application was submitted in June 2022 to Immigration Canada. Shortly after, Mme Alexandre obtained the Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ), but his file has been blocked for 14 months.

“Until now, there is nothing moving for me,” she confided in an interview.

“We applied for a visa on February 7, and we are still waiting for the response. Last week I sent a letter to Marc Miller. This morning, I received an answer. I will follow up with them, sending proof that I am truly in danger in Haiti. »

Immigration lawyer Maxime Lapointe, who is suing in Superior Court Mme Fréchette for the delays in processing applications for family reunification, believes that Mr. Miller’s decision to raise the thresholds in this category is “reasoned” and that it results from the legal procedures he has undertaken.

“This is a step in the right direction for the 38,000 families for whom Quebec said ‘yes’,” he declared.

They said

Rather than getting involved in what does not concern it, Ottawa should rather take care of its own jurisdiction, starting by transferring to Quebec the sums linked to the reception of asylum seekers and managing its own ministry, truly chaos of the federal bureaucracy.

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, spokesperson for the Bloc Québécois on immigration

The CAQ’s policy is to live in denial while accepting setbacks and lack of respect. That of the Parti Québécois is to get out of this toxic relationship and get rid of one too many governments that work against us, by founding our own country.

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the Parti Québécois, on

Imagine having to wait 3 years for the chance to live with your spouse who is outside the country. It’s inhumane. These interminable delays imposed by the ideological stubbornness of the CAQ are unacceptable in a welcoming society like Quebec. 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.

André A. Morin, spokesperson for the Liberal Party of Quebec on immigration matters


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