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Ottawa pledges $750M for Quebec immigration costs, sets no clear reduction targets

Ottawa has rejected Quebec's demand for $1 billion in compensation for receiving what Premier François Legault says is over half a million temporary immigrants.

The Legault government has been asking since February that Ottawa reimburse it for spending on social services to support migrants from 2021 to 2023.

The federal government is instead offering the province $750 million to support newcomers.

During a news conference after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday in Quebec City, Legault said he was «disappointed» that the federal government did not commit to quantifiable objectives to reduce temporary immigration levels.

He says Quebec is aiming to reduce the number of asylum seekers in the province by 50 per cent within a year.

«I think it's about time that we put targets with figures,» Legault said. «The problem is urgent so we cannot say we'll continue working for months and months about the principles.»

«We'll take the money, but we'll continue to ask for more,» he added.

Quebec has also asked to reduce wait times for issuing work permits to refugee claimants, with the aim of keeping them off social assistance.

Quebec Labour Ministry data shows the province received 80,151 requests for social assistance between March 22 and Nov. 21, 2023, compared to 72,221 for the same period in 2022. That jump in the number of households receiving social assistance is the largest in 25 years.

The monthly average of asylum seekers more than doubled from 2022 to 2023, going from 19,455 adults to just over 40,000, according to the ministry.

Ottawa open to French requirements

However, Legault welcomed that Ottawa is open to imposing French language requirements on certain types of temporary immigrants.

To address Quebec's concerns,

Read more on cbc.ca