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Analysis-Quebec focuses on French speaking immigrants as companies plea for workers -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Anglophones protesting Quebec’s French language law Bill 96 in Montreal, Quebec Canada, May 26th, 2022 REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo


Allison Lampert, Anna Mehler Paperny

MONTREAL, (Reuters) – Quebec’s plan to bring more French-speaking immigrants to the province is alarming some business owners. They say that they require immigrants of diverse backgrounds in order to fill the Canadian labor shortage.

Quebec has the right to select its economic immigrants, unlike other provinces. The Quebec government used to reduce the number permanent residents that it brought in and rely more on temporary workers. Now, the government says they have increased the percentage of francophone economic immigrants.

Coalition Avenir Quebec, Premier Francois Legault, is determined to defend French. He says French is at risk in North America’s majority English-speaking North America.

His government appointed a French Minister and passed a broad law, which requires that newcomers receive all French-language services after they have been in France for six months.

Legault advocates for more French-speaking immigrants, but some business owners fear that this could lead to the exclusion of skilled workers. Quebec boasts the country’s second-highest rate of job vacancies.

Vince Guzzo is a Montreal-based entrepreneur who owns restaurants and cinemas. He said that he needs dishwashers in every language.

Guzzo said that he’d download an app… and have my phone translate it in Punjabi if needed,” Guzzo shared with Reuters.

Statistics Canada data shows Quebec holds almost 40% of Canada’s 81,000 manufacturing job openings. This is according to the fourth quarter-2021. In 2021, Quebec’s Gross Domestic Product was 12.6%. This is higher than in any other industry.

“We’re not saying that French isn’t important. It can be a limitation when trying to recruit the top talent and people we need,” Veronique Proulx of Quebec Manufacturers and Exporters said.

Quebec’s transition to temporary work is a “band-aid”, she said, in reference to the labor shortage. “We know of some companies who are considering closing production lines.”

Jean Boulet (Quebec minister responsible for immigration and labor) stated via email that the government of Quebec has made efforts to recruit foreign students and attract workers from priority industries. Boulet stated that the new law would also include services to make learning French easier.

Quebec is planning to accept more than 71,000 permanent citizens in 2022, after the pandemic caused a drop in immigration numbers to 25,225 in 2020.

Boulet claimed that CAQ had deliberately attracted fewer permanent residents to aid newcomers after becoming in power in 2018, and it was making attempts to improve recognition of foreign credentials.

Quebec’s share of Canada’s total new permanent residents dropped to about 12.4% last year from 21.3% in 2012, according to government data.

Quebec is also at risk of losing Canadian immigrants. Statistics Canada data shows that 16.3% of Quebec’s 2009 immigrants had already left the province for another place by 2019. This is nearly twice as many than Ontario.


Quebec was a very popular place for immigrants from Canada in the past. Rosalie Brunel, a Montreal-based immigration lawyer said that newcomers could be discouraged by changes in the criteria to make temporary residents permanent or long waiting periods for residency.

Boulet stated that 84% of the 2021 economic immigrants were fluent in French, as compared to 56% for 2019.

His office stated that Quebec had increased its francophone representation through selections of candidates in particular immigration streams, and making French programs available to temporary residents.

Legault would like Quebec to select immigrants to their family – this power is held by Canada’s federal government so that it can choose more French-speakers.

One manufacturer’s head stated that the government wanted companies to hire French-speaking workers.

Quebec states that businesses can look into automation alternatives.

Eric Beaupre Chief Executive at Technosub stated that “the dream is to have French-speaking, well-trained workers.” Technosub, located in RouynNoranda (Quebec), produces and repairs pumps used for mining and other industries.

Technosub has limited labor locally and is looking for workers who can learn French and have the skills to work in Latin America or the Philippines, he stated.

Emmanuel Suerte Felipe, a Filipino temporary worker arrived at Technosub in 2018 as a Technosub employee. Although his French skills are sufficient for the job, he is concerned about whether it can be used for permanent residence as he would like to visit Quebec with his family.

He said, “I’d love to remain here.” “I have found the perfect job.”