Legault warns immigration levels could cause tensions, 'overreaction' against immigrants 

'What I hope is that we don’t end up in the same situation as the United States or France,' Legault said.

Legault warns immigration levels could cause tensions, 'overreaction' against immigrants 
The Canadian Press / Spencer Colby
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Quebec Premier Francois Legault warned current immigration levels could cause an "overreaction" against newcomers.

During a press conference on Friday, Legault told reporters he does not want Quebec to go down the path of countries like France or the United States, where immigration debates have become more polarizing.

Data shows there has been an increase of over 300,000 non-permanent residents in Quebec in the past two years, which Legault says is more than the province can reasonably handle, reports La Presse.

“There’s a risk of reaction or overreaction in the face of impacts on services, on the French language, on housing,” he said. “We have to be balanced in how many immigrants we take in every year.”

Legault made the comments after he was asked about whether he fears a right-wing uprising in Quebec and Canada as a whole.

Europe in particular has seen an increase in right-wing populist appeal, which was displayed in the most recent European Parliamentary elections.

“What I hope is that we don’t end up in the same situation as the United States or France,” Legault said. “I think Quebecers have always been welcoming. But we can’t welcome 300,000 new people in two years. That’s too many.”

Legault has stated that temporary immigrants are solely responsible for the province's housing crisis and are also straining Quebec's health care and education systems. Additionally, he has claimed that about one-third of temporary immigrants do not speak French, hindering their ability to integrate. He has also pressed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to decrease immigration levels to Quebec and has said that he wants to cut the number of asylum seekers in Quebec by half.

According to Statistics Canada data published last week, Quebec had 597,140 non-permanent residents in the second quarter of 2024, compared to 421,149 a year earlier and 295,147 in 2022. The number has increased every quarter since 2021, and the percentage of non-permanent residents in the total population has doubled from 3.3% to 6.6% over three years.

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