Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montreal, Qc Canada, March 26, 2008 – Under the auspices of CRARR, leading members of Montreal’s Maghrebi community are using the Week of Actions Against Racism to denounce the scandalously high unemployment rate among certain immigrant communities in Quebec.

At a press conference held today, these community leaders expressed their deep dissatisfaction and concern at the employment problems that touch three communities in particular: the Haitian community, the African community and, in particular, the Maghrebi community.

Mr. Lamine Foura, a journalist, noted that at the end of February, 2008, Statistics Canada revealed that the unemployment rate in Quebec’s Maghrebi community in 2007 was at 27.8%, putting it 4.5 times higher than the 6.3% rate for the rest of the country’s population.

“These numbers, recently made public, and the extreme situation they describe, were already known to government authorities,” Mr. Foura lamented. “We know this because, during a meeting with ethnic media on September 14, 2007 at the Quebec Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities, Minister Yolande James—in responding to questions about employment problems for individuals of Magrhebi origin—stated that ‘the situation of the Maghrebi community is profoundly unjust’.Yet since then, no significant steps have been taken to address the issue.”

He added, “The situation is an embarrassment for all Quebeckers. Even more unacceptable is that it is fed by inaction on the part of the successive Quebec governments whosepolicies on the issue have been marked by incoherency andinefficiency.”

Mr. Kamal El Batal, an agronomist who won his fight against racism in the process of candidate selection and who helped launch today’s mobilization, underlined that currently the Maghrebi community:

❏ is 96.5% Francophone; furthermore, 54% are fluent in French, English, Arab and occasionally Spanish; and,
❏ has a 45% rate of university or technical qualifications.

“Given these facts, combined with Quebec’s labour market shortage at all skill levels and in all its regions, Maghrebi community members should, theoretically, be highly employable in Quebec,” Mr. El Batal commented.

Dr. Lamia Ouamara, a foreign-trained doctor whose residency application was rejected repeatedly by Quebec’s medical schools, added, “The contrast is shocking: in Quebec, we see unemployment, indifference, inaction and discrimination. In Ontario and the other provinces, governments, employers and unions are actively pushing to attract,invest in and value immigrant labour.”

According to Dr. Abderrahman El Fouladi, a climatologist and director of a local French-language Maghrebi publication, “Since September 11, 2001, we have become strangers in our adopted country. We are strangers even among those we were born and grew up with. As for our children born and bred here, what can we tell them when one in three people of Maghrebi origin are unemployed?”

For Mr. Abdelghani Dades, editor of a French-language Arab Montreal newspaper, the situation is a “broken promise” because it contradicts all the reasons Quebec uses to entice francophone immigrants and particularly those of Maghrebi origin—the last bastion of “Quebec’s privileged francophone immigration groups.”

“There is definitely a breach of faith with Quebeckers of Magrhebi origin, as the Quebec government is clearly doing so little to defend the principles of inclusion, equality and justice.”

According to Mr. Dades, inaction by government and political parties will result in: ❏ A questioning of their citizenship by a good number of Quebeckers of Maghrebi origin;
❏ A waning willingness to subscribe to the country’s stated values;
❏ A growing temptation to leave Quebec in favour of more welcoming provinces;
❏ A growing concern with the future of a Quebec society that seems more and more prone towards the “French suburban ghettos.”

These individuals are joined by CRARR in their demand that the Quebec government and opposition parties undertake the following remedial measures:

1. Take into consideration and include in a fair manner immigrant and visible and ethnic minorities in economic development strategies such as the New Economic Space for Quebec and the Employment Pact; notably, by implementing within these general policies specific measures aimed at addressing specific problems faced by communities most discriminated against;

2. Implement within the public sector, parapublic institutions, and the private sector employment equity programs that produce results; appoint a minister accountable to the National Assembly and an effective, public oversight structure;

3. Implement job creation, internship and training programs adequately financed by Emploi-Québec and

4. Revise the foreign credential recognition system by eliminating incoherencies and systemic discrimination; adopt measures similar to those in Ontario to force regulated professions to treat equivalency requests fairly, quickly, and responsibly;

5. Reform the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission’s investigation procedures to drastically improve how complaints about racism in the workplace are treated and to provide for stronger judicial sanctions against racism in employment;

6. Accelerate the adoption of and implement without further delay, the Action Plan Against Racism, a plan that has spent months on the desk. This plan must above all, focus on equity and fair access measures aimed at the job market, companies and unions.

For CRARR’s Executive Director, Fo Niemi, “It’s hard to talk about equality for and integration of members of the Maghrebi community and visible minorities in Quebec,when the unemployment rate among these groups is at 1 in 3 and when visible and ethnic minorities represent only 3% of the public service, after 25 years of
government efforts.”

“We have to act quickly to ensure equality is a fundamental value in Quebec and a reality for Quebeckers whether their names are Kamal, Hassan, or Dahlia,” he stated.