Québec Immigration Policy = False Advertising or Lying to Your Best Friend

with 35 comments

All newly arrived immigrants to Québec, especially the French-speaking ones, take down this number:


The above number is the complaints line for the Québec’s consumer protection agency: the Office de Protection des Consommateurs du Québec.

If you came to Québec under the impression that you were entering a thriving job market in need of your education and skills of if our were led to believe that your knowledge of French would be an advantage to you, you should call this number.

You were lied to.

If you read the Immigration Québec website you will read that: “According to labor market forecasts, 640,000 positions must be filled by 2008.” You will also read that the current unemployment rate for Montreal is 9,4%.

Actually, hum… no. Immigrants who’ve been in Montreal 1 to 5 years have an 18% unemployment rate. Three times that of native Montrealers.

The Immigration Québec website also informs you that “Québec is committed to preserving and promoting its official language. French represents not only an essential communication tool, but also a common symbol of belonging to Québec society.”

Again.. Apparently not. According to a new study by our good fried Jack Jedwab of the Center for Canadian studies, an allophone who only speaks French is two times and a half more likely to be unemployed than one who only speaks English. A bilingual immigrant only gets a statistically insignificant advantage of 0.4% over one who only speak English.

If you are a French-speaking North African your unemployment rate is an appalling 28%! (Google English) You are a sub-Saharan African? It’s 20%. Haïtien? It’s 18%, pathnais!

These are the French-speaking immigrants we were told were going to put an end to the demographic decline of French-speakers in Montreal and Québec. The ones that would be the easiest to integrate. Well, the above numbers tell me something is already going very wrong and that it’s time we address this problem before it catches fire.

We owe it to these guys. They left country and family to come here out of many possibilities in a very competitive immigration market because we told them we valued their skills, culture and language.

To increase immigration levels to 50 000 new people a year when 30% of North Africans can’t find work is a curious way of increasing the market value of immigrants who are already here. A cynical person might say it only serves to keep wages down for Québec’s struggling manufacturing sector.

What seem especially treacherous is that it is done at the expense of Francophones who were told that speaking French would be an advantage to them in Québec, and who will slowly realize that it is nothing more than an obstacle to their mobility, further reducing their market value.

Of course the idea is not that immigration is a bad thing and certainly not that we should stop encouraging Francophone immigration. Quite the contrary.

There are jobs out there and an enormous amount of people not being hired for these jobs. Is the problem discrimination? Racism? Education? I don’t know but it seems urgent that we find out.

I only suggest that perhaps the current economic news coming from the US could be the signal that the time might be appropriate to re-examine not only our immigration policy, but the use and value of French in the workplace, and ways to increase it.

We are now recruiting immigrants based on the job market we want, not the one we have. Employers are still demanding that employers speak English. Is it always necessary to do the actual job or is it only because, well, English kind of became the default common language in the office? Is it only because the Toronto office only writes reports in English? Is it only because it makes meetings more efficient?

The right to work in French is only very loosely enforced in Québec and not much thought has been given on how to harmonise that right with the internationalization of the markets. Those are complicated questions indeed in a global economy.

As we figure these things out, perhaps it could be time to ask ourselves how filling Montreal with young overqualified and underemployed poorly mobile young people lured into Québec under false pretences is a desirable move as we head into a recession?

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 14, 2008 at 10:00 am

35 Responses

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  1. I’m thinking about moving to Montreal…because I really want to master French. It’s kind of hard to learn to speak it really well…(slang & all) in Toronto.
    Who’s to blame here? Well, I can’t see how one can blame the “English” when so many prominent mono-lingual Anglos fled Quebec over the last few decades.

    I’m surprised that they’re still around. I think it’s not about “The English” but about GLOBALIZATION. English is the new international language. End of story.
    We’re probably entering the age of “PanAmerica”…a time of closer integration of all the states in the Americas.
    What a great opportunity for French speakers to pick up Spanish and Portuguese…and turn Montreal into a PanAmerican cultural and economic powerhouse (along with Miami).
    Even in my hillbilly ancestral village in the Balkans one can have a pleasant conversation with a 9 year old…in English.
    You either accept THAT fact….and try to work around it (by subsidizing French language culture and create pleasant francophone environements)….or you enter a slow decline.

    Many like to blame the St.Lawrence Seaway for the decline of Montreal (economically).
    I say it’s the separatist nationalist politics.
    Look at Barcelona….and Madrid. A few years ago…Barcelona was a powerhouse of Spain. Then the Catalans went on a navel-gazing ethno-nationalistic head trip….and Madrid simply TOOK over.

    Quebec is in North America. English is NECESSARY and inescapable. Separatism will not change that fact. Mechanisms must be found to maintain a francophone (or ideally bi-lingual, multi-lingual) population in Canada at a constant %.

    You go anywhere around the world these days…you’ll find out you need to speak at least 3 languages to get a job. Even 2 is not enough any more.

    Even with all the efforts of the UN and the Francophonie…and the French Gov’t….French has very little of the importance it had in the 19th century. In my world, French is the second language of the old bourgeoisie. English is the second language of the entire world.
    Even if you look at the English language….the best new writers are from the colonies ie. India.

    Sincerely, you can’t win 3 battles simultaneously. (Economic Growth, Separatism, Language Survival). Focus on one…and in Quebec that should be the survival of the French language while educating a bi-lingual (or even tri-lingual)workforce for the 21st century.

    Quebecs major asset is its multi-lingual workforce, it’s Francophone heritage & culture. Work with it.
    I don’t understand why the Quebec gov’t doesn’t subsidize French language courses for all. If I wanted to “save” a language…that’d be the first thing I’d do.


    August 17, 2009 at 10:37 am

  2. […] A Place de Résistance was spot on at the meta level. I have written myself on this blog about the scandalous unemployment levels of Québec’s North Africans and Haitians and on their invisibility on […]

  3. […] Québec Immigration Policy = False Advertising or Lying to Your … If you read the Immigration Québec website you … stop encouraging Francophone immigration. Quite the contrary. There are jobs … What a great opportunity for French … […]

  4. North Africans with a high level of education and degrees tend to go to USA, english speaking part of Canada or Australia. Speaking english give a lot of power to mobility.
    While french speaking north african have only the choice of france or belgium… and sometimes quebec, wich is kind of narrow room for maneuver. Also knowing that in Europe racial issues become more and more important.

    Hannibal de Carthage

    September 30, 2011 at 3:51 am

  5. Oh Zlata, you really like to troll oppressed cultures, ”eh”?

    The Catalans decided to save their culture and language because they were tired of Spanish nationalist oppression on Catalan land killing them slowly. On ther other hand, the Pais Valencia didn’t do half enough to protect the language there and it’s falling apart, because they chose Spanish nationalism instead : but oops, it’is doing much worse economically than the Catalans. So there goes your ”argument” down the gutter.

    Perhaps your irrational fear of Peoples taking their independence blinds you so much you blame everything on the oppressed’s attempts at emancipation, a right the UN guarantees, btw.

    You also fall in the typical racist ranting that is only in the head of your like-minded : Catalan, Québec, Basques would be ethnocentric/racist, but when all their language protection laws target INTEGRATION OF IMMIGRANTS TO THEIR CULTURE. That’s not ethnocentric nationalism, IT’S INTEGRATION. Something almost every nation either does or dies for failing to do.

    If you think we’d rather live in oppression and give in to economic terrorism, think again, that is ”so 1970’s” and dosen’t work anymore since we witnessed multiple new countries thrive, both by saving their language and economies through self-government.

    Economic development and linguistic recuperation follows self-government, not the other way around, as the Basques, Catalans, Irish and Welsh showed.


    December 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm

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