CENSUS 2021 Update: A brief review of the latest data on employment among Québec’s English speakers


About this report

Sithandazile Kuzviwanza, Director of Policy & Research, Provincial Employment Roundtable

Ye Zin, Economic Policy Analyst, Provincial Employment Roundtable




























This report reviews the most recent census data on the employment situation of Québec’s English-speaking communities reveals that English speakers continue to experience significant challenges in Québec’s labour market. Despite a high rate of labour force participation and increases in educational attainment, English speakers in most regions of Québec face higher unemployment rates, lower median incomes and higher rates of poverty compared to the French-speaking majority. This report provides an overview of key labour market characteristics for Québec’s English-speaking communities based on data from the 2021 Census.

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Key Findings:

  • The unemployment rate for English speakers in Québec has increased. English speakers face an unemployment rate of 10.9%, 4 percentage points higher than French speakers’ 6.9%. This difference has doubled since the 2016 Census, when the gap was 2 percentage points.
  • Québec’s English-speaking population has increased since the last census. There are now 1,253,578 individuals who identify as English speakers, representing 14.9% of Québec’s population (previously 13.8% in the last census). 
  • English speakers continue to earn lower incomes compared to French speakers across the province: English speakers have an after-tax median income that is $2,800 lower than French speakers and a median employment income that is $5,200 less than French speakers. The gap in median employment income between English and French speakers has widened significantly; English speakers have a median employment income that is $5,200 less than French speakers, previously $2,648.
  • English speakers continue to have high educational attainment levels, and the level of educational attainment among English speakers has increased. As of 2021,  approximately 86% of the English-speaking population in Québec have at least a  secondary-level  education. This is an increase from the last census (83.9%). French speakers’ education levels have also increased; 81.6% of French speakers have at least a secondary level education, which is an increase from the last census (previously 79.8%).
  • There are 699,015 English speakers in Québec’s labour force. English speakers now make up 15.8% of the total labour force (previously 14.3%). English speakers also have a higher labour force participation rate  (66.6%)  compared to French speakers  (64%).
  • English speakers face other challenges in the labour market: they are more likely to work a temporary position, work fewer average weeks, and are more likely to work part-time compared to French speakers. These are all lead indicators for labour market precarity.
  • Regional disparities within the English-speaking community persist – English speakers in the regions of Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Côte-Nord, and Nord-du-Québec continue to have the highest unemployment rates and lowest incomes within the English-speaking community. However, the unemployment rates for English speakers living in northern resource-based economies have generally decreased since the last census.
  • Initial analysis of the census data shows that English speakers in northern resource-based regions in Québec tend to fare worse compared to French speakers in terms of unemployment, income, temporary work positions, and work activity. English speakers in these northern regions also tend to fare worse compared to other English speakers in more urban regions.
  • English speakers in  manufacturing regions such as Montérégie and Laurentides that are close to metropolitan areas tend to have similar labour force characteristics as those living in urban regions.