Quebec Day Breakfast

By Stephanie DeMarco, Global Philadelphia Ambassador

On June 21st, Philadelphia celebrated Quebec Day with an Immigration Round Table and Breakfast at City Hall. The discussion focused on how Pennsylvania and Quebec, especially the cities of Philadelphia and Montreal, work with community and economic development organizations to attract immigrants, and promote their professional integration.

The keynote speaker was Christine St-Pierre, Quebec’s Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie. She began the Immigration Roundtable by describing the state of Immigration in Quebec and the ample opportunities for immigrants in Quebec’s growing industries such as banking, finance, and pharmaceuticals. Minister St-Pierre stressed the improvements being made to programs to attract and retain immigrants, such as student temporary working visas, French language courses, and job placement programming.


Peter Gonzales, President and CEO of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians led the Roundtable Discussion focusing on the difference and similarities between Montreal and Philadelphia’s approach to immigration and integration. Arianne Justafort, Assistant Commissioner, Department of Economic Development for the City of Montreal and Alissa Lauriult, Head of Interconnection Program for the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal discussed the attraction of skilled immigrants to Quebec through professional integration. This can be seen through Montreal’s Interconnection Program, which offers a four-week paid internship for immigrants that enables them to build professional contacts and gain skills, in hopes of furthering their ability to obtain fulfilling employment and French language courses for both businesses and individuals.


Juliane Ramic, Senior Director for Refugee and Community Integration for the Nationalities Service Center and Miriam Enriquez, Director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs for the City of Philadelphia provided insight into what the City of Philadelphia is doing to attract, assist, and integrate immigrants. The City of Philadelphia has implemented Language Access Philly, a citywide program designed to bridge the access gap by making it easier for residents with limited English proficiency to obtain essential public information and services. The Nationalities Service Center is implementing community integration services through programs like community gardens that enable refugees to put down roots in their community and work with neighbors while learning a new skill.


Bilateral trade between Pennsylvania and Quebec stands at $3.7 billion, making Pennsylvania Quebec’s fourth largest trading partner. As opportunities increase for cross-border trade in key sectors such as life science, green building, transportation, infrastructure, and aerospace, the Immigration Roundtable is a symbol of the ongoing and growing relationship between Quebec and Philadelphia.