A program that assists businesses in minority francophone communities outside Quebec hire temporary foreign workers is to close after September 30.

The French Significant Benefit Program allowed employers to recruit internationally without needing to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which entails job advertising obligations and strict auditing of the business making the application to hire foreign workers on temporary work permits. Workers brought to Canada under this LMIA-exempt program then had the option of staying in Canada permanently if they fulfilled the criteria of one of the federal immigration programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class.

“This is unquestionably a big setback for francophone immigration," said Gilles Benoit, president of the Coopérative d’intégration francophone de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard.

"We relied heavily on the Francophone Significant Benefit program to promote the recruitment of qualified bilingual workers among employers in the province. It is the only tool francophones had to get tangible results in francophone immigration to Prince Edward Island."

The federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, however, was recently quoted as saying that his department is hoping to increase francophone immigration to communities outside Quebec. Just last week, Mr. Alexander stated “Our government is proud to promote Francophone immigration to Canada, which will help to ensure our communities remain vibrant and prosperous. We will continue to work with our partners to attract Francophone immigrants with the skills our labour market and economy needs.”

Therefore, it seems possible that another program aimed at securing employment opportunities for francophones outside Quebec may be established in place of the French Significant Benefit Program. We will bring you any breaking news on the issue.