Quebec employers fear losing workers over French language law

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While immigration is seen as a way to alleviate the labor shortage that has hit Quebec’s trucking industry hard, Bill 96 – which promotes the use of French in the province — is causing concern among foreign workers.

“With the new Bill 96, many English-speaking workers are thinking of leaving for other provinces because they are not able to learn French,” said Mélanie Labonté, director of operations at Audet Immigration, in a presentation to the 29th annual Congress of the Association des mandataires en vérification mécanique du Québec .

Quebec National Assembly
(Photo: iStock)

Employers have begun to receive resignations from foreign workers, including truck drivers and heavy vehicle mechanics, who fear they will be sent back because of the French language requirements within Bill 96. As a result of this trend, employers are turning more to immigrant workers who already speak French.

“Workers are listening to the news like everyone else, and they’re wondering if they’re going to have to leave because they don’t speak French,” says Guillaume Audet, founder of Audet Immigration. “There is this fear, especially on the part of Filipinos who unfortunately do not learn French much. We often have to do damage control.”

The damage control Audet refers to involves reassuring the workforce. “We tell them not to go to Ontario because of this political announcement. We tell them that they can continue to work and that we will put even more effort into francizing them,” he explains.

And “the carrot at the end of the Francization” is the arrival of the worker’s family in Quebec and the obtaining of permanent residency.  

The Quebec government must do more to promote francization programs, Audet said. “We need to share more information, promote the language teachers that are available in each region.”

There is no shortage of teachers, it seems. Often, these teachers will go to employer facilities. “There are French teachers who are mobile and will teach small classes at employers’ sites. And it’s all subsidized.”

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Steve Bouchard started writing about trucks over 20 years ago, making him by far the most experienced trucking journalist in Quebec. Steve is the editor of Quebec’s leading French-language trucking magazine, Transport Routier, published by Newcom Média Québec since its creation in 2000. He is also editor of the associated website, and a contributor to Today’s Trucking and

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  • Many immigrants as truck drivers or nannies or nursing home workers are not happy and unwilling to move to Quebec
    Too many foreign students in ont and Quebec feel employers need to treat them better.

  • This is not just a trucking/transport industry issue. A sector hard hit is veterinarians, which might not seem like a big deal but who might have 500+ clients each and decide to close up shop and leave for another province due to not having time to learn French (on call 24/7/365). Quebec is shooting herself in the foot. The different industries should band together to get rid of this ridicules bill. If not, it might be the end of an otherwise good province.

    • Ont will take all the mechanics veterinarians nurses and other skilled trades that want to leave Quebec. A number of employers will provide and pay for the housing for the first year and pay for a uhaul or other help with relocating