The Province of Quebec has long been renowned for its unique culture, which blends elements of North American and European language and society in a way that is found nowhere else in the world. Far from being simply ‘the French part’ of Canada, Quebec today is a vibrant province that continues to attract newcomers from around the world. In this article, the first of a two-part series, CIC News explores what makes this province a favorite destination among immigrants to Canada. To start, we look at the global community of people who live and work in “La Belle Province” – “The Beautiful Province” – and are integral to making Quebec the economic and social destination it has become.
Where Do Quebec Residents Come From?
Quebec has a strong tradition of encouraging immigration. In 2011 alone, the province welcomed 51,737* new permanent residents. Between 2006 and 2010, a total of 238,553 immigrants arrived in the province. As a result, immigrants make up 11.5% of the total population. It goes without saying that the face of Quebec immigration looks very different from the immigration trends throughout history.
The first immigrants to settle in Quebec were mostly European, first from French and English speaking countries and later from Southern and Eastern Europe. However, the 20th century has seen great changes in the countries from which immigrants come. While Europeans and Americans continue to immigrate, in 2011 the five biggest countries for Quebec immigration were Algeria, Morocco, France, China, and Columbia. Regionally, the majority of immigrants came from Africa, with Asia a close second.
This new wave of immigration has gradually changed the social fabric of Quebec as a whole. Today, almost 9% of the total population is non-European in descent. In the cities, the multicultural vibe is unmistakable. The population of Montreal, the largest city in Quebec, is 16.5% non-European in descent. It also has an eclectic history, with historical populations from places as diverse as Haiti, Brazil, South and East Asia, the Middle East, and the Jewish Diaspora. Immigrants from all parts of the world can find a well-established immigrant community to support them as they settle in Quebec.
What Do They Look Like?
There is no one ‘face’ of Quebec immigration, as immigrants continue to arrive from increasingly diverse locales. However, there are some general demographic consistencies that many newcomers possess.
The majority of immigrants are young. Those individuals who arrived through the Quebec Skilled Worker program, the most popular program for immigration to Quebec, were largely under 35. In fact, 70% of all immigrants in 2011 were under 35 (though this counts the children of older immigrants as well as working adults).
The majority of immigrants to Quebec are hardworking and eager to realize their economic goals. Between 2006 and 2010, 3 out of 4 immigrants over the age of 15 intended to work upon arrival in the province. Those who wished to work were well-received in the province, which last year created approximately 38,500 new jobs. While men slightly outnumbered women in terms of workers, overall immigration trends saw women and men arriving in Canada at a more or less equal rate.
Most new immigrants to Quebec are also educated, with the majority possessing a minimum of 14 years of education. While many claimed to speak at least some French, almost 40 percent speak only English or neither English nor French. With such a young, educated, and diverse population of newcomers, it is little surprise that their children thrive in Canada. Of the almost 500,000 young people of colour residing in Quebec today, 84% of them are first generation immigrants.
Where Do They Live?
Montreal has historically been the most popular city for immigrants to settle in upon arrival. It is easy to see why – the city is an economic and cultural capital of Quebec, a hub of business and education opportunity, and one of the most progressive cities in North America. However, recent years have seen immigrants flock to less traditional locales, be they cities such as Quebec City and Laval, or to smaller towns.
For the most part, immigrants to Quebec do not simply arrive in the province only to leave shortly after. The vast majority choose to make it their permanent home. Of the 419,485 permanent residents who arrived in Quebec between 2000 and 2009, 357,205 of them still live in Quebec, amounting for a total of 85.2%.
What Do They Do Upon Arrival?
Most immigrants, upon arrival in Quebec, set out to establish themselves financially. If necessary, they take steps to learn a language and build their career skills. Many will begin to look for work before arriving in Canada, and the majority find employment quickly upon arrival.
New immigrants to Quebec are also eager to enjoy their lives in their new home. They are able to take advantage of free public education and the least expensive college tuition in North America when educating their children. They can also look into options for bringing their family to Canada through various programs such as Family Class Sponsorship.
Most importantly, new immigrants are able to enjoy the multicultural, multilingual society in which they now live, and enjoy the many benefits of being Quebecois – a Quebec resident. Be it art, festivals, culture, or the region’s natural beauty, they are able to make a life for itself that truly lives up to their new home’s reputation as “the beautiful province”.
Stay tuned for the next edition of CIC News, where we will profile the province’s services and cultural institutions, and how immigrants enjoy them.
*All statistics are reprinted from the Government of Quebec.
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