Montreal

New Quebec immigrants say driving test rules limit job opportunities

Immigrants in Quebec City say difficulty passing their driving exam is slowing their integration.

Arrivals to province hope wait time between test attempts shortened

Robert Mungu says he was forced to turn down a job offer after failing the test. (Catou MacKinnon/CBC)

Some immigrants in Quebec City say difficulty passing their driving exam is slowing their integration.

Robert Mungu is from Congo and told CBC News he was forced to turn down a job offer after failing the test. There is a one-month wait period before he is able to re-take it.

Mario Vaillancourt, a spokesperson for the SAAQ, said immigrants can have the test translated into their own language if that is a barrier to success.

Vaillancourt said the SAAQ has been offering the help of translators in 30 languages since 1992 — for people who take the test in Montreal. 

"We know it's very important for people to get their permit as soon as possible, because this kind of [identification] is important," he said.

"Because when you arrive here, to facilitate the integration, you need to have your driver's licence to be able to go to work, to go to school, to function in a society. It's why we offer this kind of service."

Jelena Krstic, executive director of Service d'aide à l'adaptation des immigrants et immigrantes, an organization that helps immigrants integrate, said the translation service could be offered in other regions.

"You know there are immigrants elsewhere than Montreal, they're in Quebec City, they're in Sherbrooke, they're in Joliette, in Trois-Rivières, of course there could be translators elsewhere," Krstic said, but pointed out that having an understanding of French is necessary to be able to read road signs.

For his part, Mungu studied the 300-page guidebook and reviewed the sample questions on the SAAQ website. He still failed the written test four times.

Others, from Quebec City's Nepalese and Venezuelan communities, also say they have experienced a problem with the written exam.

According to the SAAQ, four out of five people tested at the main Quebec City office pass.

Mungu suggests that Quebec shorten the wait time between test attempts. 

with files from CBC's Catou MacKinnon

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