Strong economic growth in Montreal |  A remarkable contribution of immigrants

Strong economic growth in Montreal | A remarkable contribution of immigrants

Posted yesterday at 7:30 am

There is a lot of talk about immigration these days, and the debate about the thresholds of newcomers that Quebec should or should not welcome given its ability to integrate them well has not finished fueling the discussion as much as the divergent points of view. However, an observation emerges: the contribution of immigrants to the economic growth of the greater Montreal region has been essential and even notable in the last 10 years.

In a column published last week, I analyzed the strong recovery in Montreal’s economic activity based on recent data compiled by Sylvain Giguère, chief economist and director of economic development for the Montreal Metropolitan Community (CMM).

One statistic from Mr. Giguère’s study particularly surprised me, which is why I preferred to isolate it to come back to it today in more detail, because the phenomenon deserves some attention.

For the first time in decades, the employment rate of immigrants in the Montreal metropolitan area surpassed that of Canadian-born people in 2021, something never seen before.

If we go back to 2006, the employment rate of immigrants was only 53.3%, while that of those born in Canada was 64.1%, a considerable gap that confirmed the existence of the real difficulty that the labor market to integrate newcomers.

At that time, I remember participating in several workshops on the labor situation, where they talked about the great difficulties that immigrants of North African origin and black communities had in finding work, while members of these communities had unemployment rates that were doubled to three times that of the natives.

In 2021, we see a complete reversal of the situation, as the employment rate of immigrants in Montreal has supplanted that of “natives”, to stand at 62.1% compared to 61.9%.

Also, landed immigrants have more full-time jobs, what we call quality jobs, compared to part-time jobs, than long-term residents, and have done so for more than five years.

“For six years, we have seen a marked increase in the employment rate of immigrants, while the Canadian-born workforce is in decline,” notes Sylvain Giguère, who in passing underlines the positive contribution of newcomers to economic vitality. the Montreal metropolitan area.

relief task force

In fact, had it not been for the contribution of newcomers to support its economic activity, Montreal would not have been able to record the 24.7% growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) that the city has recorded in the last 10 years. years. .

“From 2010 to 2021, 267,000 net jobs were generated in the metropolitan area. During this time, the Canadian-born population was declining by 50,000 in the CMA due to demographic aging, and the immigrant population was growing by 267,000 due to economic development in the CMM.

This strong and necessary contribution of newcomers to Montreal’s economic dynamism can also be seen on the ground, as confirmed by Marjorie Villefranche, general manager of the Maison d’Haïti, in the Saint-Michel district, reception and reference for immigrants. .

La Maison d’Haïti launched an employability program years ago to support newcomers who have just arrived in Montreal in their efforts to find work.

“Here you feel the shortage of labor. We receive many calls from companies looking for workers. We post positions on our site.


Marjorie Villefranche, General Manager of the Maison d’Haïti

We are not far from full employment, but the situation is too recent for us to measure the material effects on the life of the neighborhood. [Saint-Michel].

Marjorie Villefranche, General Manager of the Maison d’Haïti

“However, there are negative effects in the lives of single-parent families, where mothers have to work extra hours and have less time to devote to childcare,” explains Villefranche.

La Maison d’Haïti receives at least twenty immigrants every day who have passed through Roxham Road and who need help to settle in Montreal.

“We help them in their efforts to obtain a work permit, but the delays are so long that many are forced to take undeclared work. We are trying by all means to dissuade them, but it takes too long, when they could find a regular job if they get their permission”, laments the general director of the Maison d’Haïti.

With nearly 85% of all newcomers settling in Quebec each year, it is often said that Montreal receives too many immigrants and that a better distribution of their numbers would allow businesses in the regions to better cope with labor shortages. work that affects them everywhere. in Québec.

Which may be true, but Montreal obviously still has plenty of capacity to absorb them with more jobs on the line.

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