Canadian province to introduce 'values test' for immigrants

Quebec Premier Francois LegaultImage source, AFP via Getty Images
Image caption,
Quebec Premier Francois Legault

A Canadian province will soon require economic immigrants to pass a "values test" under a newly proposed policy.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says potential immigrants to the province should be aware of values like the equal rights of men and women.

The provincial government says the test questions will be based on its charter of rights.

The policy is to take effect on 1 January 2020.

Potential immigrants can retake the online values test if they fail. A passing grade is 75%.

They also have the option of taking a course covering the topics in question if they struggle to pass.

Mr Legault said newcomers should also know about a provincial secularism bill that bars civil servants in positions of "authority" from wearing religious symbols like the kippah, turban, or hijab while at work.

That controversial legislation includes judges, police officers and teachers.

The 20-question evaluation will focus on issues including democracy, French-speaking Quebec society, state secularism, and equality between men and women.

Its goal is to ensure those newcomers "integrate in French into Quebec society and adhere to Quebec values", said provincial immigration minister Simon Jolin-Barrette.

Examples questions include: "In Quebec, men and woman have the same rights and are considered equal by law, true or false?" and "Identify which of the following examples are discriminatory: refusing to hire a women who is pregnant, a person who doesn't have the required diploma, or a person based on their ethnicity."

The values test is part of an immigration system overhaul by the centre-right CAQ party, which estimates up to 26,300 newcomers - economic immigrants and their family members - will take the test next year.

Quebec has a special agreement on immigration with Canada's federal government and has broad powers in the selection of immigrants, in particular in the economic category.

An immigrant wishing to settle in the province must apply to Quebec for a so-called "selection certificate" for which passing the new test will be a prerequisite.

He or she must obtain that certificate before applying for permanent residence with the federal government.

The policy is unlikely to be challenged by the federal government. During the recent general election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is within the province's mandate to impose such a criterion.

Fo Niemi, of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, a non-profit civil rights organisation, says he does not oppose the values test per se, but warns "the devil is in the details".

He worries that the protection of minority rights does not appear to be a topic emphasised in the test.