The Province of Quebec is well known for its society, language, and unique cultural charm. However, the province is also an established leader for business, both in North America and worldwide. It is this leadership that has resulted in Quebec’s increasing appeal for top international organizations, workers, and entrepreneurs.
To help ensure that its economic success continues to rise, Quebec has pursued proactive immigration programs to bring in skilled foreign workers on both temporary and permanent bases. These programs have become increasingly popular in recent months, as Quebec immigration remains open and continues to accept applications despite the temporary freezing of some Federal immigration programs.
A Brief Overview of the Quebec Business Environment
In 2010, Quebec’s economy totalled approximately $139 billion . When adjusted for purchasing power parity, the province was on par with nations such as Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. In that same year, Canada’s overall economic growth rate was estimated at 3.2% - higher than that of the United States, France, or the United Kingdom .
The province is lucky to possess vast natural resources, which continue to drive its growth. Quebec is the world’s third-largest producer of aluminum, and also possesses large stores of iron, zinc, nickel, and lumber.
In addition to raw resources, Quebec has cultivated a highly skilled, multilingual workforce that helps the province keep its internationally competitive edge. The primary language of most businesses in the province is French, though many conduct work in both French and English so as to reach a larger market. This is especially true in and around Montreal, the province’s largest city. The widespread bilingualism found in Quebec has helped it to generate strong ties to both Anglophone and Francophone trade markets.
Because it is a province of Canada, Quebec is able to benefit from various international agreements that help to facilitate trade and immigration. The most prominent of these is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an agreement which eliminates trade barriers between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. This allows businesses to reach, tariff-free, a market of approximately 450 million consumers . It also helps some skilled professionals from the latter two countries enter Canada as workers more easily (detailed below).
Quebec’s Primary Economic Sectors
Quebec’s economy is diverse. Each year, top professionals come to the province to work in leading companies in their fields. Some of Quebec’s most important industries, as well as some well-known companies that operate in the province, are detailed in the chart below:
Quebec’s Attraction for Local and International Business
Quebec has been taking proactive steps to become a global leader for business and entrepreneurship. In November 2011, a new program was inaugurated entitled “Go for it! All of Quebec Admires You”. This program, which stretches until 2014, provides additional government investment of approximately $450 million to promote entrepreneurship in the province .
Low operating costs in the province continue to draw new businesses to Quebec. A study conducted in 2010 showed that Quebec’s operating costs were on average lower than the rest of Canada, and significantly lower than those in the United States and the United Kingdom .
Quebec’s Attraction for Immigrants
The Government of Quebec has developed immigration programs that help to build upon its economic strengths and further develop growing sectors of its economy. The largest of these immigration programs, the Quebec Skilled Worker program, targets skilled workers with education and professional experience in targeted fields of study/areas of training. Many of these fields are related to the economic sectors detailed above.
To view the over 100 fields of study/areas of training that are currently being accepted for immigration purposes, please click here. (Please note that only sections A,B, and C are eligible for Quebec immigration at this time.)
Individuals with experience in the fields of business, technology, and health services have been in historically high demand throughout Quebec. These include:
MBA Holders: MBA holders can specialize in a range of business-related fields. Quebec businesses are seeking MBA holders with professional experience who can assist them in developing further strategies for success.
Technology Experts: Individuals with a background in cutting-edge technology fields including (but not limited to) Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and 3D Animation will find strong business prospects in Quebec.
Health Professionals: Individuals with education and experience in a health-related field such as: Registered Nurses, Pharmacists, Physical Rehabilitation, and Dental Assistance are highly sought after throughout the province.
Applicants to the Quebec Skilled Worker program are assessed on a points system. Having a job offer in Quebec is not a prerequisite to immigrating to the province. At present, the Quebec Skilled Worker program is one of the last remaining North American immigration programs that does not require either a job offer or family connection to allow an individual to immigrate as a Permanent Resident.
Attraction for Foreign Workers
Individuals who have been offered a job in Quebec may be eligible for temporary work in the province. Normally, securing a temporary work permit in Quebec requires the hiring business to receive a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) and Certificat d’Acceptation du Quebec (CAQ) in order to hire internationally. Most businesses throughout Canada are required to secure an LMO, a process which requires recruitment in Canada and can take several months.
To help facilitate the entry of some skilled workers, Quebec has a unique program called the Facilitated LMO Assessment Process. This allows employers who are hiring individuals in one of 44 targeted professions to apply for and receive an LMO without having to fulfill the recruitment component. This cuts processing times and eases entry for hundreds of workers each year.
Foreign workers from the United States and Mexico may be able to enter Quebec on a temporary basis through the NAFTA agreement. This allows individuals in some professions to begin work in Quebec without having to first secure an LMO.
Quebec remains on the forefront of Canada’s economic expansion. Its strong business environment coupled with its active immigration programs makes it an attractive option for professionals around the world looking to come to Canada to build a future for themselves and their families.