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Québec attaqué en justice pour vouloir annuler 18 000 dossiers d’immigration

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« Ce refus de traiter les demandes en inventaire est dévastateur », peut-on lire dans l’injonction déposée mercredi matin devant la Cour supérieure par l’Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l’immigration (AQAADI), qu’a pu consulter Radio-Canada.

L’AQAADI fait référence au dépôt du projet de loi 9, et plus spécifiquement à la décision annoncée par le ministre Simon Jolin-Barrette, le 7 février, d’annuler 18 139 dossiers d’immigration non traités dans le cadre du Programme régulier des travailleurs qualifiés (PRTQ) géré par Québec.

Ces candidats étaient en attente d’un Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) dans le but d’obtenir une résidence permanente permettant de vivre et de travailler au Canada.

L’association, regroupant environ 250 avocats, évoque la possibilité d’un « préjudice grave et irrémédiable » pour des « centaines, voire des milliers de personnes ».

Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, président de l'Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l'immigrationGuillaume Cliche-Rivard est le président de l’Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l’immigration. Photo : Radio-Canada

Le ministre de l’Immigration a rejeté du revers de la main la procédure judiciaire entamée par ce regroupement d’avocats. Interpellé à l’Assemblée nationale, Simon Jolin-Barrette a soutenu qu’une telle démarche était « saugrenue », « à ce stade-ci », alors que le projet de loi n’a pas encore été étudié, et encore moins sanctionné.

Il a insisté à l’effet que le travail du Parlement doit suivre son cours et rappelé que l’Assemblée nationale et les commissions parlementaires sont souveraines pour adopter les différents projets de loi.

« Un impact dévastateur », juge l’AQAADI

Parmi ces dossiers, le cabinet de Simon Jolin-Barrette avait estimé que près de 3700 d’entre eux, représentant un minimum de 5500 personnes, concernent des gens qui résident déjà au Québec, grâce à des permis temporaires.

Pour eux, « ce refus est d’autant plus cruel parce qu’il les obligera à abandonner les projets de vie qu’ils ont déjà commencé à bâtir », est-il mentionné dans le document judiciaire.

Le refus du ministre de traiter les dossiers en inventaire a un impact dévastateur au niveau personnel. Ceux-ci se sentent humiliés, trahis et abandonnés par le ministre et le gouvernement du Québec.

Extrait de la demande introductive d’instance

Les candidats résidant à l’extérieur de la province ont quant à eux « mis leur vie entre parenthèses » en attendant une décision du ministère de l’Immigration, de la diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI), fait valoir cette requête.

Une audition vendredi matin

Dans sa demande, l’AQAADI s’associe à Seeun Park, originaire de Corée du Sud, installée depuis avril 2017 à Montréal avec son mari et ses deux enfants, dont le permis d’études expire le 31 mars.

Comme des milliers de candidats, elle a reçu un courriel de la part du MIDI, le 7 février, lui indiquant que son dossier ne serait plus traité.

Si le gouvernement ne revient pas sur sa décision, « il y a une forte possibilité qu’elle soit obligée d’abandonner son projet de vie au Québec, de délocaliser sa famille de la ville et la province qui sont devenues leur chez-eux, et de quitter le pays », dit l’AQAADI.

Plusieurs autres cas similaires sont évoqués dans ce document et des témoignages seront présentés au palais de justice de Montréal vendredi matin, devant un juge de la Cour supérieure.

Le MIDI doit « continuer de traiter » ces demandes

Pour l’AQAADI, qui avait déjà adressé la semaine passée une lettre ouverte au ministre Jolin-Barrette exhortant le gouvernement à revenir sur sa décision, cette volonté gouvernementale de ne plus traiter les dossiers en attente est « illégale ».

« Le ministre ne dispose d’aucun pouvoir discrétionnaire ou autre autorité statutaire de refuser de traiter les demandes de CSQ pendantes », assure l’AQAADI, tout en demandant à la Cour supérieure d’« ordonner au ministre d’immédiatement reprendre son travail et de continuer de traiter les demandes de CSQ en inventaire à un rythme usuel, et ce, jusqu’à l’adoption du projet de loi ».

En se fiant au nombre de dossiers étudiés chaque année, l’AQAADI estime que « le MIDI devrait être capable de traiter quelques milliers de demandes de CSQ parmi les 18 000 demandes en inventaire avant l’entrée en vigueur du projet de loi ».

La grande majorité de ces 18 000 demandes ont été soumises au MIDI entre 2016 et 2018, comme l’a révélé Radio-Canada la semaine passée. Moins d’un tiers de ces dossiers, toujours en inventaire, ont été envoyés entre 2005 et 2015, dont 83 antérieurs à 2011.

Le nombre de ces dossiers en inventaire a sensiblement diminué au cours des dernières années, puisqu’on comptait près de 45 000 demandes non traitées en 2015.

Un précédent sous le gouvernement Harper

En 2012, le gouvernement fédéral conservateur de Stephen Harper avait déjà pris une décision similaire.

Le ministre Jolin-Barrette a d’ailleurs cité cet exemple, ces derniers jours, en disant se sentir à l’abri d’une poursuite, puisque la justice avait donné raison à Ottawa qui avait annulé plus de 200 000 demandes non traitées.

Le premier ministre François Legault répond aux questions des journalistes avant le caucus de la Coalition avenir Québec à Gatineau.François Legault lors du caucus de la CAQ à Gatineau, fin janvier Photo : La Presse canadienne / Justin Tang

Ces dossiers « vont devoir être traités », avait déclaré Legault

L’AQAADI met également de l’avant une déclaration de François Legault faite le 29 janvier, à la fin du caucus de son parti.

Relancé par un journaliste pour savoir si ces dossiers allaient être abandonnés, le premier ministre avait été catégorique. « Non, ils vont être traités », avait-il répondu, près d’une semaine avant l’annonce de son ministre Jolin-Barrette.

Évidemment, ces 18 000 dossiers-là vont devoir être traités avec les anciennes règles. Après, on va mettre en place nos mesures.

François Legault, le 29 janvier 2019

À plusieurs reprises, ce dernier, tout comme François Legault, a finalement invité les candidats à l’immigration à redéposer une demande dans le nouveau système Arrima ou à s’inscrire dans le Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ), qui permet, sous certaines conditions, aux personnes travaillant déjà au Québec, de bénéficier d’un service accéléré.

Le système d’immigration que nous avions ne correspondait pas aux besoins du marché du travail.

Simon Jolin-Barrette, le 11 février 2019

Le ministre Jolin-Barrette a promis, grâce à son projet de loi, de diminuer à 6 mois le délai de traitement pour les candidats qui seraient invités à faire leur demande, à travers Arrima. Un budget de 19 millions de dollars est par ailleurs prévu pour rembourser les candidats concernés.

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Ottawa one of the most expensive cities in the country to ride public transit

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With a long anticipated fare hike set to kick in on Tuesday, Ottawa remains one of the most expensive cities in the country for public transit.

On October 1st, the price for a monthly transit pass will rise another 2.5%, from $116 per month, to $119.

A survey of monthly transit fare passes across the country, confirms that riding the bus or the rails in Ottawa is more expensive than similar sized cities with much larger transit systems.

An east-bound OTrain pulls in to Rideau Station on the Confederation Line of the Light Rail Transit system in Ottawa, ON.

A 2.5% fare increase that was set to come into effect in January officially kicks in October 1, 2019. The fare was frozen until after the LRT launched.

Edmonton LRT system includes 18 stations on two different lines for a total of 24 kilometres of track, more than double Ottawa’s current distance

For instance, Edmonton’s monthly transit pass currently costs riders just $97 a month.

And Edmonton’s LRT system is much larger than Ottawa’s new Confederation Line.  Edmonton includes 18 stations on two different lines for a total of 24 kilometres of track, more than double Ottawa’s current distance.  

Edmonton’s population is roughly the same as Ottawa’s, about one million people.

Calgary, is slightly more expensive at $106 per month.  

But Calgary’s system is much larger and more spread out, reaching all four quadrants of the city including over 45 stations, and 60 kilometres.  

Ottawa’s new price for a monthly pass will be slightly less than Vancouver’s. Riders there pay $131 a month for “two zone” access, which covers all trains and buses in Vancouver proper and the major suburbs.

The most expensive transit pass in Canada is the TTC in Toronto. Riders there pay $151.15 a month.

The public transit bargain in Canada remains Montreal.  Regular riders there pay just $86.50 a month for a pass.

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Ottawa woman creates Facebook group to connect new moms online and in person

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An Ottawa mom who started a social media group to connect with other new parents after having her first child now has a growing group of new friends.

Brianna Chapman says she decided to found the Facebook group Dope Moms of Ottawa to combat the isolation she felt even before her baby was born.

“When I found out I was pregnant, it kind of really started to hit home for me that I was gonna be alone on maternity leave,” Chapman said.

Becoming a new parent can bring about feelings of loneliness, she explains, as your daily routines suddenly revolve around feedings, naps and diaper changes rather than business meetings or social gatherings.

Whether you’re the first of your friends to have a child or a veteran parent, Chapman says some moms find it tough to make time for friends when there is a little one to care for. Story continues below advertisement

With their partners away for the majority of the day in some cases, it can be tough for parents to find someone with whom to share ideas or concerns, Chapman says.

While there are dozens of Ottawa groups for new parents to join when looking for advice, Chapman says she noticed there were very few that actually looked to get people out of the house to meet up.

“It was more of a forum for Q&A, specific training questions, developmental questions, that kind of thing,” Chapman says. “But there wasn’t really anyone that was spearheading women to actually get out and meet in person.”

WATCH (Aug. 1, 2017): New app aiming to create social network for moms 3:24 New app aiming to create social network for moms New app aiming to create social network for moms

While there is little research about new parents and isolation, a recent survey of 2,000 moms by the website ChannelMom.com found that more than 90 per cent of moms in the U.K. admitted to feeling lonely, with 54 per cent of them feeling “friendless.”

When it comes to moms and their mental health, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says a social media group might just be the thing that helps.

“Some of these social media platforms can be used to tap into the wisdom of others with similar experiences — a type of crowdsourcing of knowledge,” said Nikki Hudson, program and project management officer at OPH. Story continues below advertisement

“Social support is a key coping strategy during difficult transitions. Talking about problems or worries in a safe and moderated environment may help parents and caretakers feel better and someone may be able to assist — knowingly or unknowingly — by sharing experiences and offering suggestions.”

Chapman says one of the other aspects of these groups, especially online forums, is the tendency for members to get “cliquey.” Chapman says she has a zero-tolerance policy for judgmental moms and strives to make the group inclusive.

She also believes the main goal of getting these moms to meet in person really takes away the disconnect people tend to have on the internet, which can lead some to make comments they wouldn’t necessarily make in person.

“I think that’s really understood when you join,” said Chapman about her policy. “You can read through the posts and see that it’s just a super encouraging and really supportive environment.”

While meeting in person is the point of Chapman’s group, Hudson says that even if some moms aren’t comfortable with the public meetups, the online forums are still helpful, especially if some moms have difficulty accessing other forms of support.

“People with similar experiences can better relate, offer more authentic empathy and validation,” said Hudson.

“Sometimes, this support isn’t always easily accessible or for some. It may be difficult to share in person, hence social media is a nice alternative and fairly accessible channel for most parents and caregivers to stay informed, engaged and connected with their peers and health professionals.” Story continues below advertisement

The group will celebrate its three-month anniversary on Oct. 6 and has grown to more than 1,100 members — way more than the initial 50 who came to the first meetup.

“I literally started it because I just wanted to make a couple of friends that were close to me that I could go for coffee with,” Chapman says.

“It never occurred to me that it would get so popular.” Tweet This

Chapman encourages any moms who may feel shy about meeting with a group of people to come out anyway. She says she strives to make the group a safe place for moms to come with their babies, meet other moms, share some advice or even spend some time venting about their partners.

“I’ve been in that situation where it’s really hard to get out and meet new people,” said Chapman.

“And if a mom’s not comfortable coming in because she feels like she’s not going to talk to anyone, I will personally go up and talk her. The sense of community really matriculates from the group in these meetups.”

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Education workers begin work-to-rule in Ottawa area

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Hundreds of Ottawa-area school support workers are set to stop participating in extracurricular activities Monday morning as part of a work-to-rule campaign after weekend contract talks failed to reach a deal.

Bargaining between unions representing Ontario’s education workers, the government of Premier Doug Ford and school boards had been taking place throughout the weekend.

The province said late Sunday afternoon, however, that talks with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) had broken down.

CUPE had said that while its workers were hoping to strike a deal, if the contract talks didn’t pan out, a work-to-rule campaign would begin Monday. The union says job security and wages are key issues in the negotiations.

Work-to-rule means staff will only do tasks they’re explicitly required to do. Office staff won’t supervise students, and education assistants will refuse to be left in classrooms without a teacher present.

There are about 55,000 school support staff in Ontario. They include clerical staff, school custodians and educational assistants. 

Student safety won’t be compromised, says union

“It’s become harder and harder to do more with less,” said Sherry Wallace, a former educational assistant and the president of CUPE Local 2357.

The local represents about 2,500 permanent and casual education workers in the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

“It used to be one educational assistant [for] sometimes to two three students, max. We’re now looking at, sometimes, it’s one educational assistant [for] five to seven,” Wallace said.

Even if its members begin work-to-rule Monday, they won’t compromise the safety of any students, Wallace pledged.

Sherry Wallace is a former educational assistant and the president of CUPE Local 2357, which represents about 2,500 permanent and casual education workers in the Ottawa Catholic School Board. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

‘This is very challenging’

Under work-to-rule, staff won’t take on extra activities for students — like leading choir practices, for example, or organizing sports — on their breaks or after school, Wallace said.

“We wouldn’t be staying later, volunteering and doing the extra things that we have been doing and essentially [have been] taken for granted, unfortunately,” she said.

For the Catholic board, all school support workers aside from custodial staff could begin reducing their workload Monday. That includes educational assistants, early childhood educators, sign language interpreters, developmental education staff, clerical staff, library technicians and some technical and central administrative staff.

“They are scared, and for so many reasons. Mostly because they don’t want this to look badly on them. So that’s the biggest fear,” Wallace said.

“They love, they’re very passionate about what they do. This is very challenging for them.”  

Government focused on reaching deal 

The Ford government has said it’s focused on reaching a deal that keeps kids in the classroom. 

“It is deeply disappointing that CUPE has decided to end talks this weekend, and proceed with a partial withdrawal of services, despite a limited number of outstanding items at the table,” said Minister of Education Stephen Lecce in a statement Sunday.

Lecce said the province offered proposals to address compensation, job security and funding for additional staffing.

“We remain fully committed to resuming discussions with CUPE to reach an agreement quickly to provide predictability to parents and students. On my direction, through our mediator, we have asked for additional bargaining dates to bring everyone back to the table so that we can ensure our kids remain in class,” said Lecce. 

In a statement Sunday evening, Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, said the “other side pushed matters to the brink” despite having it within their power to reach “a fair deal” for students.

“Parents, teachers and communities can be assured that no CUPE member will ever do anything to make a school unsafe or put any student at any risk,” Walton said. “As always, CUPE members will exercise their professional judgment when it comes to the health and safety of students.”

French boards, English Catholic board affected

For the French public school board in Ottawa, the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario, custodial and clerical staff, library technicians and IT employees would be working to rule. The support staff for students and teachers inside the classroom are under a different union and wouldn’t be working to rule.

For the French Catholic school board, the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est, only custodial staff would be working to rule.

The Catholic board’s other high schools, administrative offices, Académie catholique Notre-Dame, Éducation Permanente, and the Centre professionnel et technique Minto will not be affected by a work-to-rule campaign.

No support workers with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board are unionized under CUPE.

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