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Immigration can solve Quebec’s low birth rate, aging population: minister
Tue Feb 10, 5:26 PM ET
QUEBEC (CP) – Increased immigration can offset Quebec’s aging population and low birthrate, Immigration Minister Danielle Courchesne said Tuesday.
Courchesne, who will head up public consultations on the issue, said young Quebecers will suffer without an increase in the number of new arrivals. “It’s hard to imagine the costs of a drop in population growth,” Courchesne said in a statement. “It will put an enormous strain on our institutions, notably our health system.” Courchesne said 2.2 million Quebecers will be 65 years of age or older by 2031, according to projections.
The number of younger residents is expected to drop during the same period, said the minister.
The government began its three-week consultation process with the aim of setting immigration targets for 2005-2007.
Quebec welcomed 39,445 new immigrants last year and planned to accept around 43,000 in 2004, said the department.
Job-market needs are a major concern as more workers retire, said Courchesne.
The minister noted 640,000 unfilled jobs would be created in Quebec during the four-year period ending in 2006.
Of those, 350,000 would be made available due to the retirement or death of workers.
Parti Quebecois member Lucie Papineau also noted the need for all new immigrants to integrate into French society.
She cited 2001 census figures that indicated fewer new arrivals were using French in the workplace than in 1980.