Québec Solidaire unveils plan to better integrate new immigrants

The creation of a network of immigrant support centres and faster recognition of diplomas obtained outside of Canada are among a handful of measures Québec Solidaire says it would pursue to help immigrants better integrate in the province.

New network of immigrant support centres, faster recognition of diplomas included in party's platform

Party spokesperson Manon Massé said Québec Solidaire would introduce a network of information centres to provide immigrants with guidance about jobs, French-language classes and other support. (CBC)

Québec Solidaire has outlined a plan to better integrate immigrants in the province, including the creation of a network of information centres and streamlined recognition of diplomas obtained outside of Canada.

Speaking to reporters Sunday, co-spokesperson Manon Massé said the party would create a network to provide new arrivals with information about jobs, French-language classes, and offer other kinds of support.

It would also create a program to make sure 25 per cent of public sector employees were hired from ethnic and visible minority candidates.

Under the umbrella of Quebec's Immigration Ministry, the new information centres — called the Carrefours d'acceuil en immigration — would operate in each region across the province, Massé said.

Currently, the party maintains that integration services are offered unevenly depending on where you live, and that can push immigrants to leave Quebec altogether if they don't get the support they need.

"When you arrive here, you don't have any references. You don't necessarily know the language. You don't know how to get your health card done, [or] where jobs are needed," Massé said.

Québec Solidaire said it also plans to boost funding for French-language classes, including those offered by companies in the province, and speed up the rate at which diplomas obtained outside of Canada are recognized.

Immigration a key election issue

Québec Solidaire is the latest party to unveil its platform on immigration ahead of the provincial elections Oct. 1.

The opposition Parti Québécois said last month it would aim to get immigrants to settle in regions outside Montreal and make sure they have a good grasp of French before they arrive.

The PQ said it would also fast-track new immigrants who have a job in the province lined up, according to party leader Jean-François Lisée.

On Sunday, Lisée told CBC that some of Québec Solidaire's points mirrored his own party's stance.

Parti Québécois leader Jean-Francois Lisée said he's been lobbying for better integration of diversity for the past 18 months. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The opposition party has been asking Philippe Couillard's Liberal government for "real measures [for the] better integration of diversity within the public sector [and] within society as a whole" for the past 18 months, Lisée said.

In their 2018 budget, the Liberals announced plans to improve the integration of new immigrants into the workforce.

Last year, Couillard also attended a meeting that aimed to break down the barriers many face in finding jobs in their fields.

For its part, the Coalition Avenir Québec, which has been leading in recent opinion polls, said it would give new immigrants up to three years to demonstrate they could speak French and respect Quebec values.

After that period, those who failed a test of language and values could be flagged to federal immigration authorities, said party leader François Legault.

"We do not want to keep too many people who do not accept our language, our values and to participate in the workforce," Legault told Radio-Canada last month.

With files from Verity Stevenson, Ben Shingler and Angelica Montgomery