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27 July 2018

Joseph Facal and the challenge of Québec’s labour shortage

By François Blais

MNA for Charlesbourg and Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity



Source: Le Journal de Québec (French only)

In two recent columns, Joseph Facal addressed the role that immigration plays and will inevitably continue to play in Québec’s economy in the coming years. 

According to Facal, the labour shortage that most regions are experiencing is another “lie” spread by the QLP in an effort to sway new voters and by greedy employers looking for cheap labour.

The scarcity of labour and its economic consequences 

There are now over 83,000 vacant positions on Emploi-Québec and more than 13,400 long-term vacancies! There truly is a strong consensus that there is an urgent need for labour in Québec.

This view is shared by the business, labour and community sectors. The QLP hasn’t made anything up! And the labour shortage is particularly pronounced and distressing in the regions outside Montréal, where the population decline has been greater.

The necessary contribution of immigration to the Québec economy 

On May 25, I presented my government’s response to this important economic challenge in the form of the first Stratégie nationale de la main-d’œuvre, which was very well received. It does not contain any alarmist views.

However, the risks with respect to the reduction of our collective wealth are still real, as the IMF and the OECD have recently reminded us. The strategy also does not propose any increases in the number of landed immigrants. That being said, the full potential of regional distribution of immigrants (it’s true, the regions are now asking to receive their “share” of immigrants!) and better matches with business needs has yet to be exploited.

A key issue in the next election campaign? Without a doubt! 

The contribution of Québec immigrants to the workforce has never been greater than it is today. In fact, this year, their proportional participation exceeded that of native-born Quebecers for the first time, proving that they are not a weight to shoulder but rather an indispensable asset to the Québec economy.

Emploi-Québec estimates that 22% of available positions over the next few years will need to be filled by immigrants. Of course, there are steps that still need to be taken to promote faster integration into the workforce, better recognition of qualifications and better use of immigrants’ potential.

Despite these very real deficiencies (which are not unique to Québec), we must not forget that in Québec, the immigrant participation rate in the workforce remains higher than in Ontario and higher than the Canadian average. That is also unprecedented! Even though immigrants have never been so present or necessary to our collective wellbeing, the CAQ is proposing to reduce the number of economic immigrants we receive annually by one-third (a reduction of 10,000 out of about 30,000 people). This proposal is not based on any rational justification, but instead rests once again on the desire to feed anxiety about foreigners.

I would also like to point out that an identity-based strategy did not benefit a certain political party in 2014. Here’s betting that in 2018, Quebecers from all regions of the province will turn their backs on fear and once again choose the party of openness and, above all, of economic and social development.


By François Blais
MNA for Charlesbourg and Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity