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Quebec’s official Opposition is calling on Premier Francois Legault’s government to back down from its plan to cancel some 18,000 pending permanent residence applications as it looks to overhaul its system for selecting newcomers.

Liberal lawmaker Dominique Anglade says the Coalition Avenir Quebec government’s move would affect some 50,000 people, many of whom are already working and living in Quebec.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette tabled Bill 9 on Thursday, setting out a legal framework that would allow the province to be more selective with immigrants.

He said the new system would better match applicants to the needs of the labour market, and emphasize the need for immigrants to speak French and respect Quebec’s values.

But Anglade said today there’s no need for the government to cancel existing applications as it puts a new system in place.

She says the government should take the $19 million it has set aside to reimburse fees for cancelled applications and instead apply it towards processing the files.