CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI – Sept. 26, 2012 – Francophone immigrants who settle on PEI often have a hard time finding work. RDÉE Prince Edward Island, the provincial francophone economic development council, is looking to remedy that situation and thereby facilitate their integration into the work force.
Thanks to a seven-month project from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the RDÉE will first develop promotional tools, programs and partnerships to assist these immigrants. The project is aimed specifically at supporting those who have attained the status of “permanent resident” and who are legally allowed to work in Canada, explains Christian Gallant, the RDÉE economic development officer overseeing the project.
“Last winter, the RDÉE had conducted a study of the situation to determine the steps that should be taken to bridge the gaps. This new project represents a second phase of the overall project – the implementation of the first elements of the plan,” he adds.
The global objective of the current province-wide project is to create a greater awareness among PEI businesses and entrepreneurs about immigration and its importance and to show them how to hire immigrants that have permanent residency.
Angie Cormier has been hired to coordinate the project since she has accumulated substantial experience in management, coordination and training, often in themes related to employability. As an immigrant from Louisiana (she’s a naturalized citizen), Cormier has also been an entrepreneur for 22 years here on PEI. She therefore understands the challenges faced by employers seeking to hire staff as well as those faced by immigrants arriving in a new country.
She is also in the process of completing her master of business administration (MBA) degree. The subject of her thesis is entrepreneurial development in developing countries.
Cormier mentioned that the newcomers’ guide given to all immigrants to PEI makes no mention whatsoever of the Island’s francophone community nor of the numerous services available in French, including education at all levels.
The Coopérative d’intégration francophone de l’Î.-P.-É. is doing everything it can to welcome newcomers, to help them settle into their new community and to integrate them into community life. Its mandate, however, does not extend to employability.
The RDÉE can however intervene. A first priority will therefore be to prepare a French section to be inserted into the newcomers’ guide.
Secondly, the RDÉE will develop a French program similar to the PEI Connectors Program hosted by the Greater Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce. Through this program, francophone immigrants will be “connected” with employers who’ll introduce them to their business contacts, who, in turn, will introduce the immigrants to other business people.
Partnerships will also be developed with several PEI chambers of commerce since they understand the problem of worker shortages.
The project will also film a series of testimonials by newcomers as well as by employers who’ve hired immigrants. These video-clips will be compiled on a DVD, which will then be used as a promotional tool.
Several events – either workshops or a forum – will be organized to promote greater awareness about immigrant workers. These events will touch upon topics such as:
- Hiring newcomers: a solution?
- The process for hiring newcomers
- And after hiring newcomers?
The project will stress how important it is that employers be open to cultural, religious and social differences if they wish to hire immigrants.
The next phases of the project will seek to establish a number of work placement programs.
CUTLINE: Christian Gallant, economic development officer with RDÉE Prince Edward Island responsible for the immigration sector, discuss the various initiatives of the immigration integration project with coordinator Angie Cormier.
For more information:
Angie Cormier, coordinator
Francophone immigrant economic integration project