CEDEC study indicates “…more than a perceived discrimination" against anglophones in the workplace. Bill 101 still contracting community

By P.A. Sévigny on March 12, 2012

If you’re an underpaid, under-employed or unemployed middle-aged Anglophone living in Montreal, you’re not alone. Apart from your dismal French, your age and what many would politely describe as ’your limited skill set ‘, the results of a new survey indicate your prospects for a good job are dim-very dim. Based upon results of new research conducted by Montreal’s CEDEC (Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation), anglophones face a serious range of obstacles which can effectively limit, or effectively destroy their employment opportunities in what is already Montreal’s severely depressed labor market.

“This is serious,” said Marianna Balakhnina-CEDEC’s coordinator of research and development for the greater Montreal area. “This is more than a perceived discrimination.”

According to their survey, a number of factors, including the prospect of radically declining retirement earnings, are forcing a significant sector of the city’s population to search for viable options which usually include an unexpected return to the workforce. Unfortunately, the survey’s results also appears to confirm what many believe to be one of the more unpleasant facts of life when you happen to be a middle-aged  Anglophone who is wants to find a decent job in Montreal. According to the survey’s 684 respondents, Montreal’s jobless Anglos are often frustrated because they are forced to deal with situations and problems over which they have little or no control. Among others, survey respondents indicated that the most prevalent obstacles to finding worthwhile employment include

A)     Level of French language speaking skills and / or writing skills comsidered not bilingual enough;

B)     Age discrimination which becomes seriously acute after the age of 50;

C)     Low level of computer skills;

D)     Recent immigrants face numerous challenges including a lack of adequate French skills, racial or religious discrimination and are less likely to know about available resources for finding employment.

E)      Those living outside the city but within the greater Montreal area tend to have a lower level of education, are less likely to have undergone some type of training program and are far more likely to say their French language skills are an obstacle to their prospects of landing a job.

However, upon closer investigation, the survey also indicates Québec’s Bill 101 is still destroying what’s left of their community because 38.7 % of Montreal’s anglophone population is now aged 45 years and more. Simply put, they stayed while their children left home and went down the road to Toronto and wealthier parts of the nation. Even as almost 70% of them know how to speak French, and even if 48% of them have a university education, almost 50% of those polled in the survey have spent more than a year looking for work. According to Balakhnina, the CEDEC report indicates 83% of Québec’s Anglos and Allophones consider their level of French language skills to be an issue, if not an obstacle, when they’re looking for a job. 

“For sure they’re bilingual,” said Balakhnina, “…but according to these numbers, they’re not bilingual enough!”

In a province where it’s not unusual for politicians to apologize before speaking in English at a press conference, 38% of Québec’s native Anglos believe their French language skills are “very much” of an issue, if not an obstacle to finding some kind of decent work in both the city and the province. For those born outside the country as well as for those born in the ROC (Rest of Canada), it’s closer to 60% per cent and that doesn’t include considerations about  their computer skills, their race, their religion or worse-their age.

While Balakhnina said the numbers paint a dim picture for the city’s unemployed Anglos, she also pointed out how, unlike most people in their position, a solid majority among them refuse to give up and let the state take care of them.

“They’re willing to do whatever it takes to learn new skills,” she said. “They’re not afraid to go back to school if that’s what it takes to get a new job.”

 Based upon the survey’s results, she also told The Métropolitain about CEDEC’s plans to improve their chances to get the big job. Apart from the obvious benefits to be gained from hiring people who are already know what’s expected of them in any kind of work environment, Balakhnina said mature workers have a lifetime of experience to offer their new employer.

“These are the people who have a lot of work experience,” she said. “ They’re dedicated, they’re disciplined, they have lots of life experience and more than anything else,  they really need the job and they know it.”



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