Montréal, February 5, 2015 ‒ The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal presented its brief today on Quebec’s policy on immigration, diversity and inclusion to a Parliamentary Committee. Board of Trade President and CEO, Michel Leblanc, pointed out that immigration is a phenomenal incubator for entrepreneurship and skilled labour for the city and its businesses.
Immigration in Quebec is still a metropolitan reality. Close to 87% of Quebec immigrants choose Greater Montréal as their new home. While this is positive for the city, many immigrants have difficultly joining the workforce, in spite of jobs that go unfilled with a large number of companies.
Select immigrants based on the needs of the job market
“It is important to improve the selection of immigrants to create a better fit between their experience and skills and the needs of the job market and local companies,” said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. “This is why attracting and retaining foreign students and temporary workers must be a priority. These are strategic groups who have already demonstrated their ability to integrate to our society and to respond to the needs of companies. The government must also select more immigrants who are investors and entrepreneurs to reinforce the entrepreneurial drive in Quebec and Montréal and promote the development of international markets.”
“It is particularly important to balance requirements in choosing immigrants to maximize the chances of their successful integration to the job market,” Michel Leblanc said. “So greater weight must be placed on experience and skills that are in line with job market requirements. At the same time, the Board of Trade recommends reducing the importance placed on fluency in French when selecting immigrants, while significantly reinforcing support and French courses for immigrants once they have arrived. This approach seems more appropriate for maintaining the French language as a cornerstone of our society while ensuring the professional integration of immigrants is successful.”
“Our selection system should also place more importance on basic knowledge of English as a second language to improve the employability of immigrants in the city,” Mr. Leblanc said. “Our educational system recognizes the importance of students in Quebec having a working knowledge of English when they leave high school. So it only makes sense to have similar requirements for potential immigrants.”
Improve the professional integration of immigrants
“The Government of Quebec needs to strengthen measures to integrate immigrants to the workforce,” Michel Leblanc said. “Working with the professional orders and other regulatory bodies, it has to improve the recognition of experience and skills. Red tape, delays and the cost of processing files discourage immigrants and limit their career prospects. A number of professional orders have made progress, but there is still a great deal to do.”
“The government must also foster closer connections between employers and immigrant workers,” Michel Leblanc said. “We have to better support programs that allow for fluid contact between companies and immigrants, by creating favourable conditions for internships, as the Board of Trade’s Interconnection program does. All of these measures are essential to improve the integration of immigrants and increase their contribution to our society.”
The business community reiterates its call to increase the number of immigrants
“The Board of Trade reiterates its call to increase the number of immigrants to Quebec to approximately 60,000 people per year, a number proportional to its demographic weight, to better meet the long-term economic and demographic needs of Quebec and Montréal.”
Celebrate immigration and its positive impact on Quebec and Montréal
“The government must send a clear message that immigration, diversity and talent from immigration are beneficial for our economy and that they are an integral part of our society,” Michel Leblanc said.
In summary, the Board of Trade’s recommendations cover four areas:
1) Improve the selection of immigrants to reinforce the fit between experience and skills of immigrants and the needs of companies
2) Increase the professional integration of immigrants
3) Increase the volume of immigration so that it meets our economic and demographic needs
4) Defend the positive role of immigration and diversity for the economic, social and cultural prosperity of Quebec and Montréal
The Board of Trade’s brief can be consulted here.
About the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has over 7,000 members. Its mission is to be the voice of Montréal’s business community and to promote the city’s prosperity. It is involved in key areas of economic development, advocating a philosophy of action based on engagement, credibility, proactivity, collaboration and innovation. The Board of Trade also offers a range of specialized services to individuals and to business of all sizes to support them in their growth at home and abroad.
- 30 -
Michelle LLambias Meunier
Advisor, Media Relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: 514 871-4000, ext. 4042
Follow the discussion: #ccmmqcca