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If elected prime minister in October New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh said Quebec could expect millions of dollars in funding to help alleviate the province’s skilled labour shortage.

Singh made the announcement while in Drummondville on Saturday, saying the NDP would earmark $73 million to integrate new arrivals and help them learn French.

Studies show there are as many as 100,000 jobs vacant in Quebec because of a shortage of trained workers while the unemployment rate among immigrants is over double the rate of the general population.

The provincial government has made addressing the issue a priority during last year’s campaign, with the Coalition Avenir Quebec vowing to cut immigration levels by 10,000 per year, but also passing legislation that they claim would streamline the immigration process for new arrivals.

That legislation, known as Bill 9, has been the subject of controversy. The law forces 18,000 people who have already begun the immigration process to start over.

The number of economic migrants to Quebec has dropped by nearly a third in 2019 versus the same time last year.

Singh said his priority would be helping immigrants learn French and thus overcome a major barrier to employment.

“As business owners are struggling to find people to work, there is a massive shortage of (people) able to fill the position,” he said. “What we are proposing today is a way to address this problem.”

Singh also criticized Bill 21, the controversial religious symbols law, which prohibits certain public employees in positions of authority from wearing hijabs, kippahs and other religious garb while on the job, but didn’t say whether an NDP government would mount a challenge to the law.