Immigrants will have to pass a values test in order to settle in Quebec.
The Québec government announced last October that immigrants who want to settle in Quebec will have to pass a ‘values test’ as of Jan. 1, 2020.
According to the Official Gazette of Québec, the official publication of the Québec government, the test will serve as part of Québec’s selection process. It must be passed within a two-year period before applicants can apply for permanent residency.
The values tests for new immigrants was one of the electoral promises made by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) during their 2018 provincial election campaign, along with a mandatory French proficiency exam.
During a press conference, Quebec’s immigration minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette, shared an example of what the questions will be like: “Since March 27, 2019, Bill 21, the secularism of the state, says every new police officer cannot wear religious symbols on the job. True or false?”
The test will be made up of 20 questions covering topics like francophone culture and Québec democracy, among others. The questions will be chosen at random from a bank of questions. “It will never be the same evaluation,” said Jolin-Barrette.
Applicants are required to get a score of 75 per cent or more for it to be successful. Only after passing the test will applicants receive a certificate selection, allowing them to apply for permanent residency with the federal government.
If the applicant fails the initial test, they must wait a minimum of two weeks before being allowed to retake the test. If the applicant fails a second time, they will have to follow a course offered by the government to learn about the province’s values. Should the applicant fail a third time, they will have to restart the process from the beginning.
“It’s important, before deciding to come to Quebec, to know that if you expect to be in a job in a position of authority, you will not have the right to wear religious signs,” Legault told reporters during a scrum. “So, I think it’s important that you understand the values of where you want to live.”
International students who wish to settle and work in Québec after graduating are given a choice: they can either attend a course, or take the exam. The course is offered by the Québec government and upon completion, students will receive a learning attestation. Temporary workers will be offered the same option.
New economic class immigrants must take the test, with exemptions for children and applicants who have a medical condition preventing them from taking the test. Immigrants who are coming as refugees or through family reunification are also exempt.
“I think it’s normal that immigrants who arrive in Quebec and enjoy all of its advantages have to respect its values,” said Zachary Lumbroso, an international student studying Journalism at Concordia University.
Many seem to think that the idea behind the test is good because it is important to know about the culture and the values of the places you plan on living in. However, most are also under the impression that the test will be a waste of time.
“I don’t mind learning about Québec values,” said Piyush Gulia, a second year international student studying architectural sciences at Montreal Technical College. “I just think that having to do a test is a bit silly, it’s a waste of time honestly.”
People have also been skeptical about how honest the applicants will be when answering the questions.
“Anyone with some common sense can pass this test, regardless of whether or not they actually respect the values in question,” said Gulia. “They’ll answer what the government wants to hear.”
Despite the uncertainty and skepticism, the Québec government is still proceeding with the implementation of the test. The CAQ hopes that it will one day become more than just part of the Québec selection process, and become a part of the permanent residency process, according the Official Gazette of Québec.
Graphic by Victoria Blair