The Quebec government is earmarking nearly $21 million to help private businesses recruit and integrate temporary foreign workers as the province struggles with a growing labour shortage.
Labour Minister Jean Boulet, who made the announcement on Monday, says the funding will help cover the costs of companies’ recruitment missions and provide financial assistance of up to $1,000 per worker for relocation.
“I believe that with the four new measures and an enhancement of existing programs, we will be really ready to respond to the concrete needs of our businesses in Quebec,” said Boulet.
As part of the plan, the government is also investing $34 million to improve the newcomers’ integration in Quebec.
“We have to not only welcome them but to make sure that they integrate into society,” said Boulet.
In total, the province is kicking in $54.8 million in funding towards recruiting temporary foreign workers and integrating immigrants until 2021.
The announcement comes on the heels of criticism against the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government by the province’s business federation, which claimed the province is failing to meet the needs of the labour market.
Earlier this month, the federation argued Quebec should boost planned immigration levels and soften French-language requirements for newcomers to spur economic growth.
Under the plan, Boulet told reporters on Monday he believes the province will aid 2,000 businesses in recruiting temporary foreign workers within the next two years.
He also says the CAQ’s election campaign promise to cut immigration does not reflect the government’s will to accept newcomers in the workforce.
“We want to welcome them but we want to respect the capacity of Quebec,” he said.
The province’s business federation is commending the move, saying it will “facilitate the steps taken by companies and encourage them by reducing the costs associated with them.”
The additional funding is also being cautiously welcomed by the Comité consultatif personnes immigrants (CCPI), a commission that looks into the labour problems facing immigrants.
Nisrin Al Yayha, president of CCPI, says while the province is addressing recruiting newcomers according to the needs of the market, there are some unanswered questions.
“What is going to happen when the work permit comes to an end? Is the person going to be able to present a request for being a permanent resident?” said Al Yayha.
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— With files from Global News’ Brittany Henriques and The Canadian Press