Actualités du secteur

The city of Montreal says it has taken the first step toward developing a strategy aimed at improving the integration of immigrants into the workforce.

On Monday, representatives from the city, province, employers and other groups met behind closed doors for discussions to “lay the first foundations” for this strategy.

Montreal attracts around three-quarters of immigrants to Quebec, but many new arrivals have a hard time finding work.

While the average unemployment rate in the Montreal region was 6.1 per cent in 2018, according to Statistics Canada, it was 7.5 per cent for landed immigrants — 11.9 per cent for those who arrived in the past five years and 6.5 per cent for those here more than 10 years. Both figures have declined recently but are still higher than the 5.3 per cent among Montrealers who were born in Canada.

For Frantz Saintellemy, the president of Groupe 3737, a business incubator in St-Michel that works with entrepreneurs from immigrant and visible minority communities, and one of the organizers of the event, integrating new arrivals into the workforce is not just an economic question, it’s also a question of dignity.

The city’s strategy will be launched later this year, with a budget of $1.6 million.

Michel Leblanc, the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, said the city has a role to play ensuring everyone works together.

However, he said, small and medium-sized businesses need help, because they often don’t have human resources personnel who can properly evaluate an application from a candidate whose qualifications — and experience — may be different than what’s usually seen in Quebec.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette attended the meeting on Monday, though he did not speak to reporters.

Mayor Valérie Plante said she was pleased he came and that it’s a sign he wants to take proactive approach to the issue.

However, event organizers were reluctant to talk about a controversial move by the provincial government, announced on Feb. 7, to throw out 18,000 immigration applications, a plan that puts the future of thousands of people already in Quebec in limbo.

Plante said it would be up to Jolin-Barrette to defend the move.

What’s most important, she said, is that people who are already in Quebec, “who are working, who have children, who we see at the park, or run into at the grocery store,” have their applications processed as quickly as possible.

Around 3,700 of the immigration applications that the government plans to throw out belong to people who already in Quebec. As some of those individuals have spouses or children, the number of people affected is much higher.

But Saintellemy said his focus is already on the future.

“The government has their own strategy and they probably have very good reasons for taking the actions,” Saintellemy said. “From my perspective, today was an opportunity to talk about tomorrow, what do we do better? We have some very concrete actions that we can undertake in order to make Montreal the leading city in terms of integration and also development of its immigrant base. For me it’s not about what was done, it’s more about what can we do in the future.”

Source : Montreal gazette
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