Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Immigration: the minister Fréchette formal notice

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The deadlines for family reunification files have exploded in Quebec and do not respect the Canadian service standard, argues a lawyer.

  • Alexandre Duval (View profile)Alexandre Duval

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Sixty days: this is the period available to Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette to find a solution to the continuing delays to prolong the matter of family reunification, otherwise the case could end up in Superior Court. A formal notice was sent to him on Tuesday, Radio-Canada learned.

Ottawa is also blamed, although to a lesser extent. The missive was therefore also sent to his federal counterpart, Minister Marc Miller.

The ultimatum comes from Me Maxime Lapointe, a lawyer specializing in law of immigration. According to him, the average delay of 41 months for Quebecers waiting to be reunited with a spouse of foreign origin is not usual.

As a professional, I represent dozens of files per year and I notice a gap in the service standard of files intended for the province of Quebec compared to those intended for the rest of Canada, indicates Mr. Lapointe in an interview.

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Me Maxime Lapointe, lawyer specializing in immigration law

Elsewhere in the country, the average time for Canadians waiting for family reunification is just 12 months. This disparity is largely attributable to the fact that almost 40,000 family reunification files are pending in Quebec.

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Despite this inventory, the Legault government limits to approximately 10,400 the number of admissions per year, which creates a bottleneck, an explosion of delays and a lot of distress among the couples concerned.

However, under the Canada-Quebec Accord which specifies the role of each level in matters of immigration, the provincial government does not have the power to impose a quota in the family reunification category, analyzes Me Maxime Lapointe.

In my opinion, the Quebec Minister of Immigration and the CAQ government are in error in imposing a threshold for admission to Canada, which is a task of the federal government. /p>A quote from Me Maxime Lapointe, lawyer specializing in immigration law

His interpretation is also shared by the Association Quebec Immigration Lawyers Association (AQAADI).

Consequently, by only processing the number of files desired by the Legault government, Ottawa also finds itself not respecting the terms of the Canada-Quebec Accord, believes Me Lapointe.

We see it in the media, the two levels of government are waging an open war on each other, wanting to say whose fault it is if we have processing delays. Everyone is passing the buck, he notes.

Me Lapointe therefore asks Ottawa to finalize within 60 days all family reunification files destined for Quebec which exceed the 12-month deadline currently in force in the rest of the country.

As for the Quebec government, Me Lapointe invites it to completely decongest family reunification inventories and to abolish its target of 10,400 admissions per year in this category.

If Minister Christine Fréchette does not comply, Me Lapointe suggests another path: create a dynamic admission target that would adjust according to supply and demand, so that the average processing time is always respected of 12 months.

The challenge is to reunite families as quickly as possible [in Quebec] within the federal service standard.

A quote from Me Maxime Lapointe, lawyer specializing in immigration law

Me Lapointe also orders both levels of government to reopen the Agreement Canada-Quebec in order to renegotiate the roles and responsibilities of each.

This is the right way to do it if we want to review immigration powers. This is not the way of François Legault, who says: "I want to regain all the powers in immigration without knowing what that entails", believes the lawyer.

If the two governments do not act within the 60 days allotted, Me Lapointe intends to file a motion for declaratory judgment before the Superior Court.

At the time of writing these lines, neither Christine Fréchette's office nor that of Marc Miller had confirmed receipt of the formal notice.

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