Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume has called on the next provincial government to relax the rules for immigrants who have jobs lined up in the province, as the region is struggling with a severe workforce deficit.
Labeaume has been writing up a list of priorities every year for the last decade, and this is the first time that immigration comes out on top.
“There are 17,000 jobs available today on the North and South Shore [of Quebec City]. We don’t see how we could find the people for those jobs, so we need immigration, immigration, immigration,” Labeaume said at a news conference on Monday.
In a 12-page document outlining his priorities, Labeaume said the city needs at least 5,300 more immigrants to join the workforce annually over the next five years.
Quebec City currently takes in about six per cent of all the immigrants coming to the province, he said. “The minimum for us [should] be 10 per cent.”
But Labeaume said it’s important that newcomers who move to Quebec City speak French.
“We are talking about francophone immigration here because it’s a French city and there are two ways to succeed in immigration: to get a job and to speak the local language. So we have the jobs. If they speak French, it’s going to be a total success.”
The mayor also called on the province to loosen the rules for workers who already have jobs lined up, describing some of them as “ridiculous.”
For example, people with jobs waiting in Quebec must supply records of employment for all their past positions, and they have to translate those documents into French.
“They have to relax the rules,” Labeaume said.