One day a diver was enjoying the aquatic world 20 feet below sea level. He noticed a guy at the same depth but he wasn’t wearing scuba gear.

The diver went below another 20 feet, but the guy joined him a few moments later. The diver went still another 25 feet, but soon the same guy joined him.

This confused the diver, so he took out a waterproof chalk board and wrote, “How on earth are you able to stay under this deep without equipment?”

The guy took the board and chalk, and wrote, “I’m drowning, you idiot!”

The diver completely missed the obvious but he’s not the only one. Canadian leaders are also missing the obvious.

[emember_protected for=”2″ custom_msg=’For more on this story, please see this week’s print edition of The Cross Roads.’]

Did you know the province of Quebec is suffering from a labour shortage, with 117,000 unfilled jobs? Businesses are struggling to find qualified workers. An economist said, “sometimes the best way to find them is from outside the country.”

At the same time, Quebec controls 70 per cent of economic immigrants who settle in their province each year, meaning immigrants who are selected for their skills and ability to contribute to Canada’s economy. So why is there still a labour shortage?

The premier of Quebec has expressed concern that too many immigrants fail to learn French or leave the province soon after arriving. Consequently he wants to reduce annual immigration to the province. Prime Minister Trudeau responded to this request for reduced immigration, saying his priority is to ensure Quebec has enough workers to fill widespread labour shortages across the province.

Is finding qualified workers from outside the country really the best way in this instance? Are there no better options available?

Some recent statistics might provide some answers.

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in our provinces are as follows: Newfoundland and Labrador: 14.5 per cent; P.E.I.: 11.2 per cent; New Brunswick: 8.0 per cent; Alberta and Nova Scotia: 6.7 per cent; Sask.: 6.3 per cent; Man.: 6.1 per cent; Ont.: 5.6 per cent; B.C.: 5.0 per cent.

And are you ready for this next statistic?

Quebec has a 5.5 per cent unemployment rate.

In September 2018, 446,500 Canadians received regular Employment Insurance benefits; 114,000 of those recipients live in Quebec. And that doesn’t take into account the unemployed who do not qualify for benefits.

At the risk of stating the obvious, I’m sure those 114,000 unemployed individuals in Quebec already speak French, and have places of residence. The jobs that are posted online for the province of Quebec include administrative positions and other employment that would likely require on-job training. Wouldn’t it be more economical to train Quebec’s unemployed so they could fill some of those 117,000 positions?

Wouldn’t it be more economical to train some of the 332,500 unemployed people from the remaining Canadian provinces, giving them an incentive to fill those positions?

The Conservatives also suggested providing incentives to retirees who want to re-enter the workforce in order to help alleviate labour shortages in Quebec.

However, Quebec has another problem that migrants could possibly solve: the province’s population growth is below the Canadian average. Consequently, its share of seats in Parliament could decline.

However Quebec’s population is increasing. Last year, 18,518 out of 19,419 of RCMP interceptions of migrants crossing between official ports of entry occurred in Quebec. Quebec has appealed for help from the other provinces to deal with the financial crunch of accepting thousands of asylum seekers who have entered Canada illegally.

On average, the government spends $15,000 to process each asylum claimant and only a small percentage of unsuccessful refugee claimants are being returned to their countries of citizenship. There’s additional costs to the province for housing, public education, medical care and social assistance. The Immigration and Refugee Board reports 11-year wait times for refugee hearings and is experiencing an alarming shortage of immigration judges.

Obvious solutions are: closing the loophole in the Safe Third Party Agreement that allows illegal migrants to come here from the U.S., and encouraging greater use of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

Providing training and incentives to unemployed Canadians, enabling them to become qualified to fill vacant positions in Quebec, is another obvious solution that would simultaneously increase Quebec’s population.

It’s more than obvious that we need leaders who will implement obvious solutions and prevent our nation from sinking further into debt.

[/emember_protected] quebec