Quebec must do more to better integrate and improve the job prospects of new immigrants to the province, according to a new report.
Newcomers suffer higher unemployment rates and are more likely to end up in a job for which they are overqualified and paid less than native Quebecers, the Institut de Recherche et d’Informations Socio-Economiques (IRIS) report says.
The report looked at the last 10 years, when the unemployment rate for new immigrants has average 11.2 per cent, as against 5.8 per cent for those born in Canada.
Popular Quebec Immigration Programs
It also says that while just fewer than 30 per cent of natives could be considered over-qualified for their jobs, that number is 43 per cent for immigrants.
The report blames these figures on labour market discrimination, both in terms of profiling of candidates and a failure to recognise foreign qualifications.
Provincial Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil put a different slant on the figures when announcing plans to marginally increase numbers of newcomers recently.
Weil points out that big strides have been made in lowering the unemployment rate among newcomers, from 12.4 per cent in 2011 to 10.7 per cent in 2015, but accepted that more needs to be done to integrate these individuals into Quebec society.
Key attributes for integration include knowledge of French and foreign qualification recognition, according to Weil. She wants to make language programming more accessible to new immigrants in a variety of places, including online and in the workplace. There is also work being done to improve how foreign qualifications are treated by Quebec employers.
Weil intends to bring in an extra 1,000 immigrants in 2017 and 2018, bringing the total to 51,000 for those two years, before increasing it to 52,500 in 2019.
The announcement is a step back from an initial plan to welcome 60,000 new immigrants from 2017.
Planned Immigration Numbers In Quebec
- 2016: 50,000
- 2017: 51,000
- 2018: 51,000
- 2019: 52,500
Quebec is battling a naturally declining working-age population. People are getting older and retiring, and there is not enough coming into the work force to replace them. This is down to the province’s low birth rate, combined with high out-migration within Canada.
Businesses are feeling this the most, with a lack of young, skilled workers coming through with the type of modern credentials fit for modern requirements. Weil accepts that immigration is the answer, although these blue-chip individuals are sought all over the world, meaning competition is fierce for the best of them.
The government’s new immigration strategy, together with a budget of $42.5 million, brings with it the type of selection currently seen at federal level with the Express Entry system.
Quebec wants to select immigrants based on the needs of businesses, not just in the province as a whole, but also drilling down to local level in matching candidate profiles to the jobs that are available. If this strategy is a success, it should have a direct impact on the immigrant unemployment rate.
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Weil has conducted a series of public hearings on immigration, allowing a number of key stakeholders to have their say on the future of immigration in the province.
She has concluded that significantly more international students who graduate from Quebec universities will be welcomed as new permanent residents. At the same time, she says the right temporary foreign workers who want to make Quebec their home will be given chance to do so.
This emphasis on candidates, who are already in the province, meaning they have gained real life experience, seems to be sound thinking.
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