Quebec Premier Francois Legault remains deaf to the arguments of several employer groups who are pushing for a significant immigration increase.

On Wednesday, he told companies that testified in immigration hearings this week that they could help solve the problem of understaffing by making vacancies more attractive to Quebecers.

Public consultations on Legault's proposed 2020-2022 immigration program are underway in the National Assembly.

The CAQ government said it lowered immigration levels this year from 52,000 to 40,000 to 'fix' the immigration system. It plans to gradually increase them next year to reach about 52,000 people by 2022.

Legault is under tremendous pressure from Quebec Inc., which wants to increase these numbers to at least 60,000 people a year, to fill the labour shortage.

The Conseil du patronat, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Quebec (FCCQ) and the Association Restauration Québec gave testimony at the National Assembly this week.

Arriving for the first cabinet meeting after the summer break Wednesday, Legault encouraged companies to improve their working conditions to make positions more attractive to Quebecers.

The government is ready to do its part, he said.

"We will help these companies improve their productivity, be able to have more added value in their jobs and be able to offer better wages to attract Quebecers,'' he said.

The premier again emphasized his hope that immigrant selection would improve and that they would be helped to integrate into Quebec society better by assisting them in learning French.

He regrets that the unemployment rate is higher for newcomers than for the rest of the population.

Last year, he added, half of the newcomers did not speak French.

"We are negotiating with the federal government to demand a successful French test for all newcomers,'' he said.