Press Release: New research shows English speakers more likely to live in poverty than French speakers

2023 - 09 - 6 Outreach

A Snapshot of Poverty in Québec: New research shows English speakers more likely to live in poverty than French speakers

Montréal, September 6th, 2023 – A recent study conducted by the Provincial Employment Roundtable (PERT) has shed light on the economic challenges faced by English-speaking communities in Québec. The research reveals that 10% of English-speaking Quebecers live in poverty compared to 5.8% of French speakers, and are twice as likely to live under the low-income cutoff (LICO) compared to French speakers (8.9% vs 4.5%).

While English-speaking Quebecers only make up 14.9% of Quebec’s population, they account for nearly a quarter (23%) of Quebecers living in poverty.

Quebecers who speak English as their primary language have a median after-tax income that is $2,800 lower than that of their francophone counterparts. Additionally, their median income from employment is $5,200 lower. These wage disparities have significantly widened over the past five years, indicating persistent economic challenges for this community.

PERT’s findings challenge a long-held belief that English-speaking Quebecers are a generally more affluent group than French speakers. 

“It’s important for all of Quebec society to be aware of the economic challenges being faced by Quebec’s English-speaking community, and that the old stereotypes no longer hold” said Nicholas Salter, Executive Director of the Provincial Employment Roundtable (PERT). 

PERT’s previous research has highlighted that Québec’s English speakers are affected by a number of barriers to labour market integration. These barriers include limited access to French-language training for the workforce, lack of English-language employability services, scarcity of English-language vocational training, and insufficient wrap-around support services. Such employment challenges significantly impact the economic outcomes of English speakers, leading to higher poverty rates among this linguistic minority community.

PERT is calling for the adoption of a linguistic lens to analyse poverty in Québec and its relationship with language, employment, and social exclusion. 

“Language can be a hot-button topic, but it is something we need to take into consideration when looking at poverty in Quebec, ” added Salter. “It is in Québec’s best interest to create conditions that allow all Quebecers to contribute to the economic prosperity of our province. If we are going to tackle the labour market shortage, we need to tap into the full potential of our workforce, and that includes English speakers.”

PERT’s report recommends:

  • Increased income supports available to low-income Quebecers and those living in poverty
  • Developing targeted programming for specific English-speaking groups who experience higher rates of poverty, including wrap-around supports and employment programs for youth, seniors, visible minority groups, immigrants, and non-permanent residents.
  • Enhanced availability and accessibility of French-language training for the working population and improved  the quality and availability of French-language learning programs for adults in the workforce.

These findings highlight the need for the Quebec government to adopt a linguistic perspective when analyzing poverty in the province and examining the links between language, employment, and poverty. By integrating a linguistic lens, the Quebec government could better address the specific disparities faced by linguistic minority communities and contribute to the goal of poverty eradication in Quebec.

PERT’s research is based on data from the 2021 Census of Canada.

The full report is available here.

About PERT:

The Provincial Employment Roundtable (PERT) is a non-profit multi-stakeholder initiative focused on addressing the employment and employability challenges facing Québec’s English-speaking community. PERT conducts evidence-based research to inform policy and promote inclusive economic growth in the province.