Montréal, October 4, 2016 – Kathleen Weil, Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness; Hélène David, Minister of Higher Education; Christine St-Pierre, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie and Minister responsible for the Laurentian region; and Hubert Bolduc, President and CEO of Montréal International today announced a new initiative geared toward Greater Montréal universities, colleges and vocational training centres to keep international students in Québec.
“The new initiative shows that the Government of Québec is determined to step up its efforts to get as many young international students as possible to stay in Québec, particularly in Greater Montréal. They have a Québec degree, speak French, and are already familiar with our society and culture. They are the best we can get and we want them to stay and help our economy grow,” said Minister Weil.
“Québec actively promotes its colleges and universities abroad and works hard to attract international students. The initiative announced today confirms the government’s commitment to take concrete action to retain more international students in the province,” added Minister David.
“Encouraging international students to settle here is a strategic move that will benefit our society in many ways by raising Québec’s international profile and strengthening our position in global research networks. The initiative is consistent with Québec’s future international policy and the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie is proud to support it,” explained Minister St-Pierre.
From campus to home
Over the past few years, Québec’s Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI) has implemented various measures to encourage international students with Québec degrees to settle in the province. As of 2010, for instance, international students can fast-track their permanent resident applications through the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (Québec experience program). By partnering with Montréal International, MIDI is hoping to get more international students to stay and make Québec their home.
Montréal International will launch its I Choose Montréal campaign to promote the benefits of becoming a permanent resident and get more international students to settle in Greater Montréal every year. The campaign involves holding joint information sessions with MIDI; organizing activities with partners to meet the needs of international students in various areas, including employment; and developing outreach and information tools that other organizations across Québec can use for the same purpose in the future.
“International students are critical to building the region’s knowledge economy,” said Mr. Bolduc. “That’s why it is essential that we launch an extensive information and outreach campaign to encourage them to apply for permanent residence. Montréal International will work closely with educational institutions and student groups to actively promote the benefits of obtaining permanent resident status and find the best ways to retain international students.”
The initiative will also connect international students with labour market players and help them see first-hand what makes Montréal such a livable city.
In its 2016-2017 budget, the Government of Québec granted Montréal International $1.6 million to work with MIDI and develop an initiative in line with the government’s overall strategy to retain international students.
An overall strategy
Minister Weil also announced that temporary immigrants, including international students, would have access to key services previously available to selected applicants only so that they can better prepare for their new life in Québec before coming here. The two services, Francisation en ligne and Service d’intégration en ligne, also provide a wealth of information on Québec society.
Minister Weil also pointed out that temporary immigrants can now use the recently launched IAmStayingInQuebec.gouv.qc.ca web page to navigate the immigration process.
The government’s plan to increase retention of temporary immigrants is in line with Québec’s new policy on immigration, participation and inclusion, titled Together, We Are Québec. The initiative developed by Montréal International is designed to help the government achieve its goal. Other regions that host international students could build on Montréal’s experience to plan similar initiatives. Best practices will be shared at a roundtable.
“We want our regional partners to join us in our efforts to get international students to settle in the province. Those young people help build vibrant communities while studying here and our communities stand to gain by encouraging them to make this new world their home. The initiative led by Montréal International will enable us to enhance available tools and share best practices with partners,” added Minister Weil.