Tuesday, June 17, 2008

There Is a Future Outside of Montreal for Immigrants!

Quebec's annual immigration quota must not be increased from 45,000 to about 50,000. For our economy's sake, the city of Montreal can't keep single-handedly welcoming most immigrants coming in Quebec.

Obviously, in a free country, an immigrant should theoretically have the right to go live wherever he/she wants. However, potential immigrants should consider going to live outside of Montreal. In fact, if Quebec's metropolis keeps welcoming more than the three quarters of immigrants, there are some economic problems awaiting us.


Most immigrants would straightforwardly affirm that there is "everything" in Montreal. From the worldwide known nightlife, the restaurants (I'm talking about those in the centre of the Island), the four universities (Université de Montréal, McGill, UQÀM and Concordia) and the direct access to governmental services (just like in any other cities in Quebec, anyway), it may seem normal that many immigrants are pleased to go live there. However, let's face it: there's no job for every single Montrealer who are part of the economically active population (EAP).

In other words, it's not because Montreal is Quebec's metropolis that it can economically absorb everybody considering that it welcomed 72.6% of our immigration last year! Besides, the over-concentration of immigrants in the region of Montreal is the source of problems of unemployment. In fact, recent studies conducted by Statistics Canada reveal that at least 80,000 newly arrived immigrants living on the Island of Montreal, who are part of the EAP, are jobless. If you want this in percentage, it gives you 18.1% of newly arrived immigrants who are jobless!

As if it wasn't enough, it's that kind of over-concentration (as a factor among others) that makes Quebec, of all Canadian provinces, have the biggest unemployment rate among immigrants.

In the end, many immigrants coming to Quebec should consider going to live outside of Montreal. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, "immigrants living in small urban centres and in rural areas tend to achieve economic integration much faster than immigrants living in large urban areas". Of course, without generalizing, that same study says that an immigrant living in small urban centres is more likely 1) to be wealthier than one who lives in large urban areas (like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver); and 2) as wealthy as any average Canadian/Quebecker.

Thus, we should partially conclude that potential immigrants coming to Quebec must know if the Montrealer labour market actually needs them. Moreover, let's also point out that in Quebec, immigrants are mostly needed in "resource regions" and small urban centres like the suburbs, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Drummondville or Quebec City, for instance. Besides, where there are available jobs, there's a need for immigration.

In a nutshell, opening your arms to immigration is beautiful. However, can immigrants be any good to us if most of them end up in Montreal as jobless people? Hence, comes the necessity to inform even more immigrants about where they are needed, economically speaking. To that matter, Quebec's Programme d'aide à l'intégration des immigrants et des minorités visibles (PRIIME) might be a good start, but we still have efforts to do. In short, the Charest government can think about increasing Quebec's annual immigration quota when Montreal ceases to welcome the bulk of our immigration at the expense of other administrative regions for our economy's sake.

***

Since the 400th anniversary of Quebec City's foundation puts this city on the map, why don't a lot more immigrants choose to live in this city that looks almost ethnically homogeneous? After all, Quebec City has many attractive assets: 1) It's one of the best places in Canada (far ahead of Montreal, by the way) for investors; 2) the lowest unemployment rate in Quebec (4.9%); 3) one known university (Laval University); 4) a direct access to governmental services (provincial and federal alike).

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