Quebec linguistic groups separated by strong labour divide, report shows

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English-speaking Quebecers plagued with lower salaries, employment rates: report
WATCH: English-speaking Quebecers plagued with lower salaries, employment rates: report – Feb 22, 2022

A report prepared by an independent provincial organization reveals a stark labour divide between Quebec Anglophones and Francophones.

The 44-page document prepared by the Provincial Employment Roundtable (PERT) illustrates Quebec’s Francophones have a higher employment level and earn more money compared to their Anglophone counterparts.

Overall, Quebec’s English-speaking community has an unemployment level that is two percentage points higher than that of Francophones. The difference is most striking in the Côte-Nord district where the unemployment rate is almost 14 percentage points higher among Anglophones compared to Francophones.

French-speaking Quebecers also make significantly higher incomes compared to Anglophones. In Montreal alone, Francophones earned an average of more than $2,000 a year in after tax income compared to English-speaking Quebecers.

The results by PERT were compiled from data in the 2016 census but the organization’s executive director believes the trend is continuing even during the current labour shortage in many job sectors in Quebec and during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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”This is the most accurate picture of the reality English-speaking Quebecers when it comes to employment we can paint right now,” Nicholas Salter, provincial employment roundtable executive director, told Global News.

Chan Nguyen is not surprised. The Quebecer was born in the province but raised in the U.S. and says her lack of French language skills is making it difficult for her to get a job.

”I find it a hard time finding a job here. And I’m getting feedback, that, oh, your French isn’t good enough,” Nguyen told Global News.

Nguyen is registered with the Youth Employment Services (YES), a non-profit organization that helps Anglophones enter the job market.

YES executive director Aki Tchitacov is not surprised by the findings of PERT, saying often it’s a question of building confidence in Anglophones.

”We don’t have confidence in our French and we tend to select ourselves out of competition for jobs when we see that French is required,” Tchitacov said.

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Others argue the English education system needs to do a better job in improving French language skills with English-speaking students.

”We cannot afford as a society in Quebec to be educating young people for them to go to another province,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge of the Quebec Community Groups Network.

There are plans, however, by the Quebec government to offer French language courses for free to Quebec’s English-speaking community in the proposed Bill 96.

Mikaël Bouchereau who runs a CLIC, a language school in Montreal, agrees on the importance of learning French and says demand for French language courses is increasing.

”We have definitely seen a spike for French requirement in the last six to twelve months,” Bouchereau told Global News.

Nguyen just hopes her language skills will quickly improve so that she can find a job and no longer be part of the unemployment statistics in Quebec.

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