Quebec seeks growing ties with India
Pushed by influential Indian community, Canada's French-speaking province is looking to develop relations with India.
Pushed by a small but influential Indian community, Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec is looking to develop relations with India and even encourage immigration from skilled groups.
"A growing concern in Quebec is the demography. We have a population that is rapidly aging. We are keen to attract more young immigrants to Quebec. We would like an immigration of 50,000 annually," Marc Ferland, who is leading Quebec's first high-level trade delegation to India, said.
"We are keen to attract students and bioinformaticians. There is a growing need for good bioinformaticians as our growth is being slowed due to lack of trained personnel. In the future, there could be outsourcing from Quebec in the field of genomics," said Farland, who is an assistant deputy minister in the province's ministry of economic and regional development.
With bioinformatics being seen as the new paradigm that could offer cures for diseases, Quebec is keen to develop expertise in this area. India, with its well-recognised skills in IT, is seen as a good talent pool to attract talented youngsters to migrate, the official said.
"Currently we are receiving around 30-35,000 immigrants because we are a French speaking province and desire only those who know French or are willing to learn the language as it is the medium of instruction in schools," Ferland said.
An estimated 30,000 Indians migrate to Canada annually but only a small number head for Quebec, with Toronto and Vancouver as the preferred places of residence.
At the insistence of some of the leading members of the small Indian community in Quebec, the government has now decided to look more closely at India to not only attract investment and trade but also promote education, cultural and technical collaboration.
"The Indian community Quebec is pushing the government to develop a relationship with India and seek opportunities in the economic, industrial and cultural spheres. There is no sense in just having trading relations," said Ferland.
Accompanied by a dozen companies from Quebec - like Bombardier International - that are already well-known names in India, Ferland said his visit is to lay the groundwork for the visit of Quebec premier Jean Charest next year.
During the six-day visit, some of the mission members will be visiting Bangalore and Mumbai. Of the estimated Canadian $2.1 billion ($1.72 billion) bilateral trade between India and Canada, Canadian exports account for around C$750 million ($613.57 million).
Quebec's share of the exports is around C$ 225 million ($184 million) while imports are estimated at C$370 million ($302.5 million).
"The bilateral trade between Quebec and India has been witnessing around 13 per cent annual growth. This is excluding the trade in services. We are keen to boost cooperation, particularly in the power sector. With Quebec being surplus in power, we have skilled design engineers who could offer their services in India for infrastructure projects," said Ferland.
To facilitate more flow of information about Quebec, the official disclosed plans to open a country office in India, while expressing keenness that India does the same.