Quebec language groups separated by sharp workforce divide, report finds – Montreal
A report prepared by an independent provincial body reveals a labor force divide between Anglophones and Francophones in Quebec.
The 44 pages document prepared by the Provincial Employment Roundtable (PERT) illustrates that Francophones in Quebec have a higher level of employment and earn more money than their Anglophone counterparts.
Overall, the Anglophone community in Quebec has an unemployment rate two percentage points higher than that of Francophones. The difference is most striking in the Côte-Nord district, where the unemployment rate is nearly 14 percentage points higher among Anglophones than among Francophones.
French-speaking Quebecers also earn significantly higher incomes than English-speaking people. In Montreal alone, Francophones earned on average more than $2,000 per year in after-tax income compared to English-speaking Quebecers.
The PERT results were compiled from 2016 census data, but the agency’s executive director believes the trend is continuing even during the current labor shortage in many employment sectors in Quebec. and during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is the most accurate picture of the employment reality for English-speaking Quebecers that we can paint at this time,” Nicholas Salter, executive director of the provincial roundtable on employment, told Global News. .
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Chan Nguyen is not surprised. The Quebecer was born in the province but grew up in the United States and says her lack of French skills makes it difficult for her to get a job.
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“I find it difficult to find a job here. And I get comments, that, oh, your French isn’t good enough,” Nguyen told Global News.
Nguyen is registered with Youth Employment Services (YES), a nonprofit that helps English speakers enter the workforce.
YES executive director Aki Tchitacov isn’t surprised by PERT’s findings, saying it’s often about building confidence among English speakers.
“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,” said Tchitacov.
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Others argue that the English education system needs to do a better job of improving the French skills of English-speaking students.
“We cannot afford, as a society in Quebec, to educate young people to go to another province,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge of the Quebec Community Groups Network.
However, the Quebec government is considering offering free French lessons to Quebec’s English-speaking community as part of Bill 96.
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Mikaël Bouchereau, who runs a CLIC, a language school in Montreal, agrees on the importance of learning French and says the demand for French lessons is increasing.
“We have certainly seen an increase in French language needs over the past six to twelve months,” Bouchereau told Global News.
Nguyen just hopes that her language skills will improve quickly so that she can find a job and no longer be part of the unemployment statistics in Quebec.
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