Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

These foreign workers who change - and save - the lives of Sherbrooke employers

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In the midst of a labor shortage, even community organizations are turning to hiring foreign workers. This is the case of Partage St-François, which took the plunge last year.

  • Marie-Hélène Rousseau (View profile)Marie-Hélène Rousseau
  • Geneviève Proulx (View profile)Geneviève Proulx

Several nights a week, Gertrude takes care of people who come to find shelter at Partage Saint-François in Sherbrooke. A gift from heaven for the organization, which was struggling to find qualified employees to do this work. It was in Cameroon that the rare pearl was found. And the social worker is not the only foreign employee to appear on the long payroll of the place.

Of the sixty employees at Partage St-François, which also includes the new L'Éclaircie crisis center, three of them have been hired internationally and a fourth person should arrive in the next few years. weeks. If the organization was forced to open its borders to hire, it was because the pile of local CVs was very thin.

With the L'Éclaircie project, it required the hiring of six qualified professional candidates with fairly high hiring criteria which were required by the donors. It was a great challenge!, recalls the assistant director and head of human resources there, Steve Séguin. A feat that he had to achieve in eight months. Two seasons to recruit these speakers was a feat and he knew that well. The solution? Expand your research horizons to other continents.

As soon as the job offers were posted, we received hundreds and hundreds of applications! recalls Mr. Séguin, still surprised. Three of them particularly caught the attention of the manager of Partage St-François. From then on, the hiring procedures began.

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$10,000: this is the cost of hiring a foreign worker for Partage St-François. “Bringing speakers from the other side of the world, yes, we’ve gotten there. I have no choice,” says the organization’s deputy director, Steve Séguin.

A process that will take several months and cost $5 to $10,000 per employee, but is worth it, he believes. It's a very cumbersome structure to understand, […] but if I didn't do that, I would be making it even more difficult for myself. It’s a tool for international hiring. It's long, it's difficult, it takes a lot of energy, but it's a tool that meets a need in your organization, analyzes Steve Séguin.

In the lot, there are often nice surprises. Like Cameroonian Gertrude Natacha Cristel Kaldjob, who was a social worker in Germany. Once in Quebec, she was able to have her qualifications recognized, which she uses in her interventions with users of Partage St-François.

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Gertrude feels that she is making things happen in her workplace. It is not uncommon for users to return to Partage St-François to thank her or give her a gift. “They saw that I was really there for them. That's my ultimate goal, for them to feel like they can trust me. »

As good news never comes alone, another trained psychologist will join the Partage St-François team in the coming weeks. Ismène, an Algerian, took steps last February to come work as a speaker in the Sherbrooke organization.

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You know, we never receive CVs from psychologists. Never, insists Mr. Séguin, illustrating at the same time how lucky he is to have him on his team.

We bring people from Algeria to take care of people from Quebec. I don't know how to describe that. Is it interesting? Bringing speakers from the other side of the world, we’ve got there. I have no choice.

A quote from Steve Séguin, director of human resources, Partage St-François

If Gertrude is happy to have settled in Sherbrooke, she has some advice for those who have the same desire as her. Get ready! Don't think that as soon as you arrive in Canada, everything will be resolved. Prepare yourself financially and mentally. Try to find friends. If you have family here, it will be easier. If you come from Africa, prepare yourself for the cold, she said with a burst of laughter.

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David Gagné almost gave up his job as a restaurateur. It was the arrival of workers in his team that gave him back his taste for work.

It is not only in the community sector that the possibility of hiring workers from overseas changes the situation. This is what saved the life of David Gagné, the owner of the Jack-O, Wakaï and Freddy restaurants. I had between five and ten employees per day who did not show up for work in my four branches, he gives as an example to illustrate the challenges he faced on a daily basis.

Exasperated, he even thought about closing up shop, but international recruitment changed his plans to turn off his pizza ovens forever. It saved my business. I think that personally, it even saved me, because I was exhausted. They came to lighten my work. These people are always present at work and with the right attitude. I'm not always on the alert anymore, he rejoices.

Working 90 hours a week with the impression of always having a gun to your head is less interesting. It brought back my joy of living at work, my joy of living in short.

A quote from David Gagné, restaurant owner

If these workers bring much-desired peace of mind to their boss, they arrive with wealth that is much greater than that which is measured in greenbacks. We really developed friendships. These are people who are really important to me, says David Gagné, carefully weighing his words.

The foreign employees he hires have a temporary work permit for two or three years. But his ultimate goal is for them to make Sherbrooke their homeland forever. If they are good people, good employees, I want them in my community!

This desire is so strong that the restaurateur did not hesitate to put his hand in his pocket to extend the dollars necessary to pay for plane tickets for the family of a Filipino chef. We helped him bring his wife and two children to Quebec so that they could finally be reunited. I sincerely love them. I want them well.

There are more than twenty foreign employees who are part of David Gagné's team. Among them is Kadi, who was hired for her skills with numbers. We had trouble finding an accounting technician. She trained as an accountant in her country. It clicked. We both have great chemistry.

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Khadija Mouabir, whom everyone calls Kadi, is like a fish in water in her work in the administration of David's restaurants Won. So much so, that she asked to take on more challenges!

If at the beginning, his work mainly took place in front of a computer and a calculator, Kadi quickly made it known that this was not enough. She told me she wanted to have additional responsibilities. She was able to demonstrate excellent leadership, says Mr. Gagné. One thing led to another, new tasks were added and little by little, she took up more space in the management team. And now he's crossing his fingers that she will soon become a Canadian citizen.

More than 6,000 kilometers separate Kadi's native Algeria and Sherbrooke, his adopted city. A long journey full of pitfalls, but also full of promises. When I arrived, I didn't regret it. For real! Sherbrooke is a beautiful city! I love it! I love nature! I love everything here! she exclaims, her eyes sparkling.

Does she see herself working here for a long time? It's safe! As long as David wants me! she said with a burst of laughter. Laughter shared by her boss, who reassures her about his intentions to keep her on his team.

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