Quebec's largest group of employers says the government's proposed Charter of Values would have a detrimental effect on the economy.

“It is an obstacle for recruitment and retaining the best qualified people for an employer,” said Yves-Thomas Dorval, President of the Conseil du Patronat, which represents 75,000 employers and surveyed about 100 of them on the charter.

The organization said the Charter's restrictions on what civil servants and subcontractors who work for the government could wear will send a bad message to immigrants, especially when Quebec is counting on immigrants to maintain its economic development.

Faced with a world of opportunities, the Conseil says Quebec should be actively working to attract skilled foreigners, instead of presenting them with a law that will convince them to go elsewhere.

“98 per cent of the employers had no issue at all with requests for reasonable accommodation based on religion issues so there's no need for that,” said Dorval.

Bernard Drainville, the minister in charge of Bill 60, said he cannot take the Conseil's warning seriously, especially given their opposition to Bill 101 more than 30 years ago.

"They said it was going to be disastrous for the economy, it was going to cause unemployment and who can seriously say that Bill 101 had a disastrous impact on Quebec? I think it had a very positive impact on Quebec. I think it created more social cohesion. I think it created social peace and this is precisely what the Charter will achieve," said Drainville.

Drainville's question was rhetorical, but recent studies and polls show that Bill 101 was a triggering factor in Quebec's long economic decline.

A Leger poll conducted on Jan. 7 and 8 showed 44 percent of Quebecers thought Bill 101 had not improved relations between francophones and other ethnic groups in Quebec. Only 39 percent thought the Charter of the French language had made things better.

This week researchers from HEC Montreal said Quebec's standard of living has steadily declined since 1981, the year after the first referendum on sovereignty and four years after Bill 101 was introduced.

Meanwhile Drainville said another reason he disagrees with the Conseil is because he has heard of employers being reluctant to hire immigrants because they would be afraid of dealing with requests for accommodations.

The Conseil says that is a smokescreen, since demands for accommodation of any kind, including for religious reasons, are very rare.