MONTREAL -- As Quebec battles with a labour shortage across several industries, the Legault government will pay students going into “targeted professions” in health, engineering, and information technology, starting in fall 2022.

These incentive scholarships will be awarded after each successful full-time session, Quebec's minister of finance unveiled on Thursday.

In CEGEP, an eligible student will receive $1,500 per session for a total of $9,000 for a three-year program.

As for university students, they’ll receive $2,500 per session, for a total of $15,000 for a three-year program and $20,000 for a four-year program.

The ministry predicts that the measure will cost the public treasury $1.7 billion by 2026 — the largest expense of the $2.9-billion five-year package developed to alleviate the province's labour shortage.

With the new plan, Quebec hopes to “train, requalify and attract” nearly 170,000 workers in specific fields over the next five years. Those fields are: health and social services, education, educational childcare services, engineering and information technologies, and construction.

The incentives are coming as the province endures a staffing shortage caused by an aging population and a decrease in immigration.

There are nearly 279,000 vacant positions in Quebec, according to Statistics Canada.

The government will also grant bonuses to promote the return of retired professionals, particularly nurses and educators in service – a measure expected to cost $60.3 million over two years.

For a worker earning a salary of $40,000, the wage premium would provide a bonus between $2,640 to $3,156 per year.


People in other industries felt left out by Thursday’s announcement.

“Unfortunately, the manufacturing sector was not included,” said Véronique Proulx, general manager of Manufacturers and Exporters Quebec (MEQ), who said she felt “disappointed.”

Proulx says the incentives could even draw workers away from manufacturing industries.

“The construction industry will be looking for employees in our industry,” she said. “I have members calling me to tell me they’re losing employees.”

“You can't do everything,” said Quebec’s Finance Minister Éric Girard, who explained the government prioritized industries deemed essential.

“As a government, it is important to make choices." 

This article by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 25, 2021