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Montreal campaign sheds light on economic barriers facing immigrants

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plantesays Montreal lags behind other Canadian cities when it comes to the economic integration of immigrants. Karol Dahl/Global News

The City of Montreal is launching an awareness campaign aimed at shining light on the many challenges facing newcomers to the area.

The four-week campaign called Closed Doors specifically draws attention to the hurdles immigrants face when finding employment in Montreal. They are often passed over despite being qualified candidates.

Mayor Valérie Plante says Montreal lags behind other Canadian cities when it comes to the economic integration of immigrants and that needs to change. In Quebec, 60 per cent of immigrants settle in cities, she added.

“It is a great wealth to welcome these people who will come,” she said. “Their talents, their creativity and their culture contribute to the development of businesses and institutions, as well as the vitality of Montreal.”

READ MORE: Quebec backtracks on changes to popular immigration program

Shahir Guindi, a lawyer and the co-chair of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt, says that when he is traveling outside of Montreal, he notices more diversity at the highest levels of organizations and companies.

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“There’s no easy, free ride. Everybody has got to work hard so as an immigrant, if you don’t have the language abilities, you don’t have the substantive knowledge for the profession, well you ought to get it,” he said. “And then on the employers’ side, you have to give the opportunities.”

Supporters of the campaign say that for integration to be successful, everyone needs to do their part. Plante is calling on employers, workers and neighbours to welcome newcomers into the workforce.

The campaign has a website, will be active on social media and there is an interactive exhibition about the topic at Complexe Desjardins.

READ MORE: Opposition parties demand Quebec government undo changes to immigration program