More French lessons for Quebec immigrants

Quebec is introducing new French lessons for immigrants to help them integrate into the francophone province.

Quebec is introducing new French lessons for immigrants to help them integrate into the francophone province.

Immigration Minister Yolande James said people will have an easier time in Quebec if they are provided with French lessons before they arrive, and workplace language training.

Part of the problem is immigrants don't know what kind of resources are available, and often they're not accessible in workplaces, the minister said.

"The reality is when people get here and they are in our French classes, often times they have to be able to financially support their families by working, so to be able to have a way that's conducive to that, we want to be able to go to them," James said at a Montreal press conference announcing the measures, worth $23 million over three years.

Immigrants who have been in Quebec for more than five years will be eligible for language training. French instruction was previously provided for immigrants who had arrived within four years.

Only half of eligible immigrants who signed up for lessons actually finish the 33-week course, James said.

Quebec companies are eligible for tax credits in exchange for offering French instruction in the workplace, which should spur more language training, James said.

"One of the reasons why our program was not as ambitious as we would have wanted in the past was we needed to have the incentive for the employers, which we're able to do with this tax credit," she said.

The workplace language tax credit, worth about $7 million over three years, was introduced in the provincial budget, tabled March 13.