Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet says the province’s labour shortage is a phenomenon that needs to be countered as soon as possible and that he has an action plan that includes attracting more anglophones into the labour market.
The labour minister has acknowledged there is a higher unemployment rate among English-speaking Quebecers than French-speaking Quebecers. According to the 2016 census, there are nearly 12,000 more unemployed anglophones than francophones.
Boulet said he has given instructions to an advisory body, the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail, “to identify the difficulties English-speaking Quebecers face” and to help the minister “find the right solutions.”
“I want to put a special emphasis and I want to help them (anglophones) integrate the labour force as quickly as possible,” Boulet said. “They have the profiles, the qualifications.”
Boulet added: “We have to make a particular effort to increase the number of English-speaking Quebecers who work in the public service.”
A recent report found only one per cent of employees in the public service are anglophones, a number that hasn’t budged since the 1970s.
Boulet also spoke about the role of immigration in addressing the labour shortage. Earlier this year, he apologized for reforms the Coalition Avenir Québec government tried to implement in the Quebec Experience Program. The government later backtracked on its plans, which would have restricted the eligibility of post-secondary graduates who already studied and worked in Quebec.
“In this particular case, you know my colleague did work very hard,” Boulet said in reference to Immigration Minister Simon-Jolin Barrette. “He has, of course, an interest to make sure there is a compatibility between the profiles of people and the needs of the labour market.
“You know it’s always a work in progress. Everything we do is perfectible,” he said, adding the government will table new reforms in the new year.
— With a file from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise