Massive refusal of Haitian and French-speaking African students: Discrimination denounced by Maxime Blanchette-Joncas & Daniel Bénéteau

Daniel Bénéteau, sponsor and volunteer administrator from Rimouski, and Maxime Blanchette-Joncas, Member of Parliament for Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques. (Photo courtesy)

By Alexandre D'Astous, Journal le Soir, May 28, 2023

Maxime Blanchette-Joncas, Member of Parliament for Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques, and Daniel Bénéteau, student-sponsor and volunteer administrator, denounce the discrimination by Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada (Refugees and Citizenship Canada - IRCC) against French-speaking foreign students from Haiti and Africa.

New data from the Institut du Québec show that the refusal rate for these students remains much higher than for English-speaking or Ontario students. They are calling on the government to put an end to this inequity.

"It's completely scandalous that the Trudeau government continues to discriminate against French-speaking African applicants who want to study in Quebec. We're talking about students who have been accepted by Quebec and by our universities, and who are then told no by the federal government in 72% of cases. By comparison, McGill's refusal rate was only 9% in 2021," says Maxime Blanchette-Joncas.

He maintains that Ottawa is refusing these students because they may intend to stay in Quebec after their studies.

"It's nonsense, at a time when we're talking more than ever about the importance of regionalizing immigration to energize our regions. There's no better candidate for immigration than a student who speaks French, has a degree, has done an internship and has developed a social circle in our region," says the Bloc MP.

A shared observation

This is an observation shared by the House of Commons Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, which produced a report on the subject at the initiative of the Bloc Québécois.

"The Liberal government must take note of this report, starting with recommendation 15, which stipulates that the intention to settle in Canada must not interfere with obtaining a study permit," adds Mr. Blanchette-Joncas.

Former vice-rector of human resources and administration at the Université du Québec à Rimouski, Daniel Bénéteau has first-hand experience of the failings of the federal machine.

"It's a situation I've been fighting against on a daily basis for several years, particularly as a sponsor of students from Haiti. The refusals are numerous and sometimes absurd. I have in mind the recent case of a student who received a scholarship covering tuition and living expenses from the Cégep de Rimouski, then was refused by Ottawa on the pretext that she didn't have sufficient financial means", he explains.

Laxity denounced

Maxime Blanchette-Joncas welcomes the recent outburst from Rivière-du-Loup CEGEP General Manager René Gingras, who openly denounced IRCC's lax attitude.

"We're talking about a minister who didn't even want to meet with representatives of the Regroupement des cégeps de région. It's absolutely deplorable. I invite other institutions to follow Mr. Gingras' lead. Haitian and French-speaking African students deserve better. Our regions deserve better," concludes Mr. Blanchette-Joncas.


Translated by CHIP editors


Posted June 17, 2023