By proposing to welcome more immigrants, the Legault government has reignited the debate on their role in the economy, the reception capacity of Quebec and the health of the French. In Drummondville, entrepreneurs have chosen to do a lot, and quickly, in the hope that foreign workers will settle there.
Cristian Grajales and his daughter, Luciana, freshly arrived from Colombia.
Little Luciana sleeps in her father's arms. Her mother maneuvers her into a car seat before the four-year-old girl loses her little pink rubber boots.
Shall we put her behind? The answer is a little late. The parents seem dumbfounded. And for good reason. The night before, this family of four arrived from Colombia.
The 12-year-old stares into space, his black toque tucked tightly over his head. Surely he would have preferred to sleep longer. But that's not possible this morning.
Quebecer Isabelle Généreux has planned a whole program for their first real day in Quebec. A sort of bureaucratic sprint for the newcomer.
Social insurance number, opening of a bank and telephone account, Internet connection, library card. The essentials to start a life in Quebec.
It represents all the administrative procedures to integrate and start working, explains Isabelle Généreux, talent attraction advisor at the Drummondville Economic Development Corporation (SDED).
On va open a bank account, which you will quickly fill with money! jokes Isabelle Généreux, trying to put this couple who left everything behind to find themselves in such a different environment at ease.
It is very important that they are well received, that they have a good experience when they arrive. It's also a win for worker retention, she explains.
Haydee Harranda and her son Sebastian , on the balcony of their new apartment in Drummondville.
This family is one of thousands of foreign workers arriving in Quebec each year. Single men or families, the vast majority have a temporary work visa, for two or three years.
Last year, Drummondville welcomed 200. This year , more than 300 have planned to settle down in the region. It's been a very big year, confirms Isabelle Généreux, while driving.
A solution used by a growing number of companies to meet their immediate labor needs. Not just in Drummondville, but everywhere in Quebec.
The Legault government is already helping companies select the most qualified foreigners. This week, the Prime Minister confirmed that he wanted to welcome more economic immigrants who already speak French.
Immigration is no longer used to meet seasonal needs. Many are looking for people willing to settle in the area. Hence the importance of the bureaucratic rounds that Isabelle Généreux so often leads.
She's guiding Colombians through an uncrowded mall this morning. She stops at a cell phone kiosk and calls out to the employee. They would like to have a little plan. Do we do as usual?
He recognizes Isabelle, jokes with her a bit before suggesting his cheapest plan. The transaction is done quickly, the young Sebastian does not have time to go to the video game trade…
The Grajales family shopping for cellular plans with Isabelle Généreux from SDED.
The family doesn't have time to wander around the mall either. You have to go back to meetings, go home so that the little one can take a nap on her bed.
Do you see this store? While driving, Isabelle Généreux shows parents other places they need to know: the pharmacy, the stationery, the cheap shops.
Parents nod, take mental notes. But there are so many new things that they are unlikely to remember everything. We have lots of questions, confirms the mother, Haydee Harranda.
We are so far from home, geographically, and in style and quality of life. She wants to know what are the opening hours of the shops, the churches to go to.
The parking meters intrigue Sebastian, who wonders what they are for. The father wonders about license plates with particular names chosen by the owner of a vehicle.
Changing countries is a lot to think about, explains Isabelle Generous. Often, we don't know how it works, what administrative procedures to do.
Hence the importance of having a guide, someone from the place who knows what you need to know. Having someone with you to take these steps is gold! launches Isabelle Généreux.
A whole service, paid for by the employer who recruited Cristian Grajales. Discreet, the father assures us that he greatly appreciates the help he receives. Without them, I don't think we could make it.
Daniel Cloutier, one of the co-owners of Usiflex. The Drummondville company has hired six temporary foreign workers, including Cristian Grajales.
Cristian Grajales' employer has welcomed five other foreign workers in recent months. The parts machining company Usiflex went to South America to seek the labor it could not find here.
And the bosses do not regret the experience at all. It's even better than I thought! launches Daniel Cloutier, one of the co-owners. The integration is going very well.
The two bosses are so keen that these employees arriving from afar feel welcome that they will even pick them up when they get off the bus. plane to Montreal.
In fact, it goes further than that, points out Daniel Cloutier. Despite the scarcity of accommodation, Usiflex found an apartment big enough for the family. And the bosses have furnished it.
When they arrive, we want them to really feel at home, to be able to cook there quickly, to sleep well there.
Usiflex's goal is clear. If the bosses invest so much energy and money in these foreign employees, it is not so that they leave at the end of their contract in two years.
On does not have a high staff turnover, we try to do our best for our employees. So that they feel good here.
The company intends to offer French lessons during working hours. English and translation tools can't fix everything, especially off the factory floor.
In a Latin American grocery store, Haydee Harranda finds products she thought she had to give up on moving to Canada.
All the challenges of moving to another country are well noted when the Grajales family do their first shopping at a big-box grocery store.
Isabelle Généreux planned this stop at the end of the day. She knows how different things are in businesses here. And how essential food is to well-being.
She takes her time in the aisles, suggests inexpensive brands, substitutes for Colombian products. We must also help them to decode the prices, sometimes displayed by weight, sometimes by unit.
The mother had a mango in her hand, she thought it was two dollars a kilo. Well no, it's two LA mango dollars. It was a shock for her. And similar shocks, there will be many others.
But these shocks can quickly be absorbed. Especially since Drummondville is welcoming a growing number of Latin Americans.
A few steps from the new apartment, the Grajales discover a Latin American grocery store. The shelves are full of products from Colombia, the owner's country of origin.
Haydee Harranda scans the shelves, her smile widening. It’s the love of the country, all these flavors! She stops, her eyes discover another product that she thought could not be found here.
Coincidentally, the owner of this small shop comes from the same region of Colombia as her. German Blanco settled here over 15 years ago. This is the best place to work! he says.
Cristan Grajales' work permit is valid for two years. His family therefore has time to settle down, to make up its own mind. For now, it's better to go home and rest a bit.
All four seem tired, their heads still full of questions. But they are also reassured. We are fine, launches Cristian. Happy, happy, happy! completes Haydee, before closing the door to her new apartment.