A large group of Canadian technology companies says it is unreasonable to expect immigrants to learn French in only six months. They are calling on the Quebec premier to pause on Bill 96. The 37 companies argued in a letter to Francois Legault that the use of French under Bill 96 sets an unrealistic deadline.
According to them, immigrants struggle with multiple challenges as they settle into a new environment. The Business Group also recommended that Quebec should set up French language training support for the immigrants.
While the CEOs and leaders of the fast-growing Quebec companies appreciated the law for protecting the culture, they wished to postpone the implementation. They extend their support to the spirit of Quebec’s language law which aims to protect their distinct francophone identity, but it should not be implemented until the government fully establishes the necessary tools for French tutoring of the immigrants.
Canada is facing one of the most serious labor shortages. The national unemployment rate is at a record high of 5.1 percent. Moreover, in Quebec, labor shortages are even direr. In its Labour Force Survey, Statistics Canada noted Quebec’s unemployment rate was 3.9% in April.
Tech leaders are also worried about the aftermath of imposing such a stringent language requirement. According to them, it could lead to highly-skilled immigrants simply bypassing Quebec entirely. This will put an end to a valuable source of labor. Moreover, it will do permanent damage to the economic prosperity of a province.
Quebec immigration is expected to increase exponentially to roughly 71,275 new permanent residents this year, up more than 41.7% from last year. This is because the province will try to make up for immigrants who were unable to come due to the pandemic.
For businesses in Quebec, temporary foreign workers are in great demand. The skyrocketing labor demand is for catching up to the losses made during the pandemic. Besides adding the permanent residents, the boost in immigration to Quebec comes as the province is also expecting an increase in temporary foreign workers.
However, technology business leaders fear the government’s insistence on forcing immigrants to learn French will only exacerbate the existing labor shortages. Before implementation, adequate language training support needs to be put in place for French tutoring. This will help the immigrants to connect with the province’s culture.
Bill 96 has a direct impact on the competitiveness and attractiveness of Quebec’s most critical sectors and most promising companies. If implemented, the companies will have to operate primarily in French. This will create an extra burden when working with customers and partners from around the globe.
Employers who wish to hire foreign nationals can avail of international talent and labor through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), and; the International Mobility Program (IMP).
Quebec operates its immigration system which requires foreign nationals to get a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ) before seeking permanent residency in Canada.
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