Research Symposium on English-Speaking Immigration in Quebec Organized by Research and Evaluation/Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Executive summary

The research symposium started with Yvan Déry, from Canadian Heritage, delivering opening remarks that emphasized the importance of developing research projects to better understand how immigration can contribute to the vitality of English-speaking communities in Quebec given their specific challenges and barriers.

The first theme of presentations addressed the socio-economic profile of English-speaking immigrants in Quebec. Jean-Pierre Corbeil, from Statistics Canada, discussed the over-qualification of English-speaking immigrants using the 2011 National Household Survey and the 2011 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) survey results. His presentation demonstrated empirically the high unemployment rate, the low income, and the over-representation in occupations that require a high school diploma or less of recent immigrants. He also discussed the gender gap and the impact of language proficiency. While French-speaking immigrant men are more likely to be overqualified than their English-speaking counterparts, it is with English-speaking immigrant women that the highest rates of over-qualification are observed in Quebec, in particular with those having obtained their higher university degree outside of Canada or the United States. Questions and the discussion that followed the presentation touched upon the definition of recent and established immigrants, the specific characteristics of PIAAC, de-skilling and over-qualification, the significance of visible minority and religious status, and various challenges surrounding Quebec immigration.

William Floch from Canadian Heritage presented results based on composite indicators created to capture diversity, the socio-economic characteristics, and the degree of retention of immigrants across official language minority communities (OLMCs) in Canada. He found that Quebec has municipal regions along the continuum of diversity from the high end (Montreal, Quebec City, Laval, Montérégie, Outaouais) to the low end (Gaspésie, Côte Nord and Nord du Québec) of the diversity continuum. He also found that immigrants in Quebec have the second-highest level of socio-economic vulnerability, preceded only by New Brunswick. French-speaking and English-speaking immigrants in Quebec are less prone to remain in the province, although, compared to 15 years ago, the rate of retention for some English-speaking immigrants has improved. Questions from the audience, and the discussion that ensued, explored issues related to the analysis of age-specific cohorts, the intention to stay or leave the province, the importance of language, and sense of belonging.

The second theme of the research symposium was about the outcomes of English-speaking immigrants in Quebec. Examining the 2006 census data and 2007-2008 Canadian Community Health Survey, Vicki Esses and Zenaida Ravanera from Western University examined the socio-economic and social integration of immigrants in Quebec. There does not seem to be much difference in economic integration between English-speaking and French-speaking immigrants in Quebec, as indicated by labour force participation and individual income. In contrast, there are some differences in the social integration between English-speaking and French-speaking immigrants in Quebec. Recent English-speaking immigrants are not as well integrated socially, as indicated by life stress and sense of belonging to the local community. Questions from the audience and the ensuing discussion examined income, the contribution that qualitative research can make, the status of immigrants who do not speak English or French, the ethical considerations of research, the importance of examining age-specific cohorts, and the presence or absence of programs to alleviate poverty.

The third theme was the retention of English-speaking immigrants in Quebec. Michael Haan from Western University examined the individual and collective characteristics likely to indicate whether or not official language minority communities impact immigrant retention in provinces. Using the Longitudinal Immigrant Database (IMDB) over four cohorts: 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2005, he found that older immigrants, married immigrants with children, less-educated immigrants, and family reunification class immigrants in comparison to refugees have low migration rates within Canada. He also found that high homeownership communities, high human capital communities, and OLMCs (as defined for this research project as 10% of the population or 1000 individuals being able to speak the official minority language) are more likely to attract and retain immigrants. Questions and the discussion for this presentation delved into the definitions of OLMCs, potential collaboration with the Canadian Heritage research division for future research projects to share expertise, institutional completeness, and the possibility of the presence of other variables.

The fourth theme addressed settlement and integration strategies and best practices. Michèle Vatz-Laaroussi, from Université de Sherbrooke, presented the results of a research project comparing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Quebec City and Sherbrooke. Although both communities have old institutions and a network of organizations, it was found that contrarily to Quebec City, Sherbrooke does not benefit from a recognition of its English-speaking community, a diversity of funding sources for its institutions, and the overt support of the municipality to integrate immigrants. These differences affect the strength and the effectiveness of partnerships and networks, which then contribute to attracting, retaining, and integrating immigrants. Brigitte Wellens from Voice of English-speaking Quebec proceeded to present her organization’s mission, programs, network, and challenges. Questions and the discussion that followed pertained to the role of English-speaking organizations in the settlement and integration of immigrants, the importance of assessments/evaluations and the creation of models of best practices, the impact of the Quebec City tourism industry on English-speaking communities, the significance of historical, cultural, and intercultural capital, and the legal and administrative challenges faced by English-speaking communities as they seek to organize themselves to integrate immigrants.

Under the same theme, Sarwat Viqar from the South Asian Women Community Centre and Josée Makropoulos from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada made presentations. Sarwat Viqar presented the mission, the structure, the funding sources, the programs, and the challenges of the South Asian Women Community Centre, which is a member of Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI). Josée Makropoulos presented research conducted by TCRI that focussed on two parts: the survey with TCRI members and interviews with recently arrived English-speaking immigrant women in Quebec. With respect to promising practices, this study concluded that over 70% of surveyed TCRI organizations offered all of their services in English. About 73% of the English-speaking immigrant women who participated in this study also reported having accessed French training on a full-time or part-time basis. The integration of English-speaking immigrant women in Quebec society was aided by support provided by fellow community members and organizations, as well as individuals and institutional practices offered by the host community. With respect to challenges, this study concluded that over 25% of surveyed TCRI organizations offered no or partial services in English and almost half of these organizations did not provide referrals to English resources. Some interviewed women corroborated by stating that they had faced difficulty gaining access to employability services in English, and many mentioned the challenges of finding work with limited or no French-speaking ability. Not knowing French was also cited as being related to other integration issues such as isolation and discrimination. Questions and discussion pertained to funding requirements, creative strategies to reach isolated communities, and points of entry in the community.

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