Monday, April 25, 2011

Program helps a new wave of Irish immigrants transition to Montreal

Montreal City HallImage via Wikipedia
MONTREAL — There's a steady increase in the number of Irish immigrants coming to Montreal for job opportunities.
The Canadian government has increased quotas in its working holiday program with Ireland and a new Montreal group is helping Irish immigrants make the most of Montreal.
Catherine McKee moved from Ireland to Montreal in January.
She studied French in university, and wanted to continue improving her language skills.
"I've lived in France previously, so I wanted a new experience and I thought that Montreal would be a good place to learn," she told CTV Montreal.
McKee quickly found work as a receptionist at an IT company.
She credits a newly formed group, called the Irish Immigrant Integration Initiative, with helping her get started.
"It all seems to be very well organized," she said. "They're really looking out for the Irish people that are coming in."
The group organized a networking event back in February. Newly-arrived immigrants had the opportunity to learn about Montreal's Irish community.
More importantly, they were introduced to potential employers. 
Michelle Vahey of the St. Patrick's Society of Montreal says that ever since the economic downturn there are fewer opportunities in Ireland. 
"Some companies folded, some other companies weren't taking on possibly as many graduates as they had done in the past," she said. 
Canadian and Irish governments also have a working holiday program agreement available for people aged 18-35. Canada has increased the number of Irish working holiday visas -- from 2,000 to 5,000 -- and the term has also been extended -- from one year to two. 
Vahey says it shows the strong ties between the two countries and stands to benefit both.