French-language testing for Quebec immigration could be changed after a tradesman from France – educated in the French language – failed to make the grade.
“This is a test that seems designed to make people fail,” tradesman Yohan Flaman reportedly told the francophone daily newspaper Le Devoir in French. “I thought I had this in the bag but the instructions are very long and many of the questions just make no sense.”
The immigrant was able to pass Quebec’s French-language test and get his permanent residence qualifications on his second attempt.
But his criticisms of the French-language tests, one of three ways Quebec’s Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) allows candidates to show they meet the language requirement for permanent residence, have led to a re-thinking of the way the tests are designed and administered to applicants.
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According to CTV News, Quebec’s immigration department is now considering the development of profiles of people working in different occupational groups and tailoring its French-language requirements to the needs of those occupations.
“This reference guide will make it possible to identify minimum skill thresholds according to the person’s professional profile and to the specific requirements of the targeted employment, both oral and written,” Quebec immigration spokesperson Arianne Méthot reportedly said.
Protection of the French language is overwhelmingly popular within Quebecois society.
Tradespeople May Get a Break on Tough French Tests
But not all the jobs filled by temporary workers need as advanced a level of French as currently required by the provincial government. Many temporary workers and employers’ associations have been lobbying Quebec to lower the stringent French language requirements to help boost economic immigration to the province.
“There’s no shortage of work,” Flaman reportedly said to CTV News. “If the [province] is doing things that are good for people who are immigrating and that can help them, I think it’s good.”
The truck driver said he hated to think of the difficulties that would be faced by a Spanish-speaking immigrant from, for example, Mexico, who might struggle even more than he did with the French language tests.
Quebec Immigration Minister Nadine Girault says she is sensitive to the situation.
“Rest assured that we are currently evaluating how to improve the methods of showing mastery of French and better meeting the needs of immigrants,” read a statement from her office.
In addition to taking the French language tests, immigrants to Quebec can also show they meet the province’s language requirements by:
- having completed three years of French at the equivalent level in secondary school, or;
- successfully completing a Level 7 French course.
In its latest budget, Quebec earmarked $103.6 million to defend and support French as the province’s official language and its use in Quebecois society. That money is to be spent over six years, including $15.7 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
In its bid to make the province more welcoming for immigrants, La Belle Province also pledged more than $8 million for its community support program, the Programme d’appui aux collectivités (PAC) in February.
“With the PAC, we are adding to the tools we can use to welcome and promote the sustainable establishment of immigrants and their families in our regions,” said Girault in French. “We want them to be able to fully participate, in French, in the vitality of all of our regions and help them contribute to Quebec’s economic recovery.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immigration to slow to a trickle throughout Canada, including Quebec.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada figures show the number of new permanent residents who made Quebec their home fell by almost 37.9 per cent last year, to 25,195 from 40,565 the previous year.