The Quebec government will study the challenges facing the province’s English-speaking community when it comes to employment beginning next year.
Labour Minister Jean Boulet made the announcement Friday in downtown Montreal at a consultation discussing anglophones in the job market. The province must do more to integrate experienced workers into the labour force regardless of which language they speak, he said.
“I want to listen to you,” he said. “All the people surrounding me in Quebec want to do exactly the same.”
The Commission des partenaires du marché du travail will look at the issues English Quebecers grapple with starting in 2020. Boulet also intends to create an advisory committee for anglophones.
In Quebec, anglophones face several hurdles when it comes to securing job opportunities in their fields and employment in different areas across the province, according to community organizations and employers.
The sprawling challenges include language barriers, a lack of access to services, and English-speaking Quebecers settling elsewhere after leaving the regions for post-secondary education.
“The English-speaking community is now underwater when it is measured against the majority when it comes to unemployment,” said James Hughes, the chair of the Provincial Employment Roundtable.
The issues were discussed during a consultation Friday in Montreal on the employment hurdles facing English-speaking Quebecers. The 2016 Census shows that there are nearly 12,000 more unemployed anglophones than francophones.
The Provincial Employment Roundtable brought together community organizations, post-secondary institutions, English-language groups and employers to discuss those challenges.
They were also tasked with creating policy recommendations to give the province’s English community better access to employment opportunities.
“The solutions are out there,” said Tania Callender, the executive director at the African Canadian Development and Prevention Network. “But how are they being presented and are they suited to the people using them?”
The Quebec government reports that those who speak only English have a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the population. More than 60 per cent of unilingual anglophones live in the Montreal area.
Boulet, for his part, said the key to improving employment prospects among English-speaking Quebecers is by working together as partners in the labour market.
“We have to go above discourse,” said Boulet.
Christopher Skeete, the parliamentary assistant to the premier for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, said the province also wants to address anglophones leaving the province for economic opportunities elsewhere. He said it’s important for all Quebecers to feel like they belong.
“We need you to stay here and we need you to find a way to feel at home here,” he said.
The roundtable is expected to present its findings and recommendations to the government in December.