On February 28, the Provincial Employment Roundtable brought together representatives from diverse community organizations to host a forum discussing the employment challenges faced by immigrant, racialized, and First Nations and Inuit communities in Québec that speak English as their first official language.
This forum served as an essential platform for organizations in Québec to come together, identify challenges faced by English-speaking communities, and explore ways to create meaningful change.
During the forum, participants identified several themes that they held in common, including access to and ownership of data, barriers in organizations’ access to funding and resources, difficulty accessing English-language services, and difficulties obtaining meaningful employment. The unique identity and culture of the communities served by participants were also recognized as essential factors that affected their employment pathways and their conceptions of and motivations toward employment.
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
- Data is essential for gaining insight into the struggles that these communities face. It is equally important to consider how and by whom this data is collected, stored, and used.
- Identifying individuals and community organizations according to their relationship to a specific community may result in oversimplification. At the same time, representing diverse identities is key to recognizing and addressing economic and employment disparities.
- The funding landscape, particularly for community organizations and employment service providers, needs to change for these organizations to meet their clients’ needs better.
- Increased economic and employment integration should centre on access to meaningful employment. This requires that we recognize barriers, such as the lack of recognition of immigrants’ qualifications and the value of non-linear education and employment pathways. It also requires that we appreciate that individuals and communities may have different definitions of meaningful employment or success and equally deserve resources to achieve these.
- Mental and physical health are significant factors that affect individuals’ abilities to seek employment.
- Collaborations between community organizations, employment service providers, businesses, and governments are necessary for meaningful change. Such relationships must empower community organizations and employment service providers to access and implement the resources needed to serve their communities.
The twin themes of solidarity and hope were also echoed throughout the day; participants spoke about the value of connecting with others in the same space. This enabled participants to feel seen and heard in the shared challenges they identified. Further, the forum provided an opportunity to build community capacity to address identified challenges through collaborations between community organizations, employment service providers, businesses, and governments.
This opportunity highlighted the importance of coming together and the benefit of continued collaboration through avenues such as a community of practice. This provides a space where participants can work together on shared issues and goals and share resources, knowledge and insight about their communities as they continue to evolve. We aim to create a more accessible and inclusive environment where the voices of immigrant, racialized, and First Nations and Inuit communities that speak English as their first official language are centred, so we can ensure that all members of Québec’s English-speaking communities have greater access to opportunities for success, and have the opportunity to define success on their terms.
This report was completed thanks to funding from Canadian Heritage.