Welcome to Carnets de route

Carnets de route contains information specifically aimed at refugees and refugee claimants, as well as the people assisting them. Carnets de route is intended to help you with the process of settling in when you arrive and during your first few years in Québec. 

 

With Carnets de route, you will enjoy an engaging experience: reliable, organized and accessible information about Québec society, steps to take, to-do lists, timelines, summary diagrams and much more!

 

Select whether you would like to view the website in English or French, then answer the following three questions to be directed to the right information.

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Your profile

Refugee Claims

You have made a refugee claim at a port of entry or from inside Canada. You are waiting for your hearing to determine whether you will be recognized as a refugee or person in need of protection.

Accepted Refugee Claims

After making a refugee claim in Canada, you have had your hearing and have been recognized as a refugee or person in need of protection. You can apply for permanent residency.

Refused Refugee Claims

You have had your hearing and have not been recognized as a refugee or person in need of protection. You are exploring the different options available to you.

Refugees

You arrived in Canada as a refugee and with permanent residency. You are being supported by a host organization or sponsorship group (sponsor) during your first year in Québec.

Employment

Key organizations and individuals

1. Updates – Employment

The content of Carnets de route was updated in November 2023, unless otherwise indicated. Some elements may have changed since then. If in doubt, consult the sources and resources in this section. You can also report any information requiring change through Technical Support. Update dates may vary by section.

2. Working in Québec

2.1 Social insurance number (SINSocial insurance number )

(Collectif Bienvenue, 2023d; Emploi et Développement social Canada, 2022; IRCCImmigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada , 2023o; MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) , 2023; Service Canada, 2017; TCRITable de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes , 2021)

To work, you need a SINSocial insurance number , which is a confidential nine-digit number. Getting a SINSocial insurance number is free and mandatory to work. Be careful who you share your SINSocial insurance number with.

Your employer will ask for your SINSocial insurance number when you are hired.

Don’t give your SINSocial insurance number to just anyone. With this number, an ill-intentioned person could defraud you.

To get your SINSocial insurance number :

In person

Go to a Service Canada office and bring the required documents. Service Canada offices in Québec

Online

See Social Insurance Number Application (SIN) – Government of Canada

You will need to provide copies of the necessary original documents.

By mail

Send your application by registered mail to the address indicated on the form GC-NAS2120 Application for a Social Insurance Number, in which you will find instructions: Application for a Social Insurance Number

You will need to provide these documents:

  • Your work permit
  • Your Refugee Protection Claimant Document
  • Your permanent resident card or confirmation of permanent residency
  • A piece of ID (RAMQRégie de l’assurance maladie du Québec card or your passport), if you have one.

If you submit a document that is not in French or English, it will need to be translated and certified. See Certified translations in the Read This Information First section.

3. Job search

(Cleveland, Hanley, Salamanca Cardona, et al., 2021; Collectif Bienvenue, 2023d; Hanley, 2020; TCRITable de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes , 2021; Ville de Sherbrooke, 2023h)

3.1 Help with the search

(AXTRA, s. d.; Gouvernement du Québec, 2023aa; MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) , 2023; Réseau des carrefours jeunesse-emploi, 2023)

At first, I really pounded the pavement and went to community organizations. I told them what I wanted to work in and they helped me put my CVCurriculum vitae together and send out applications. All of that is part of your process, and they really help you. This support helps you achieve your goals. – Bernadette

3.2 Process

(Comité sectoriel de main-d’oeuvre en tourisme, 2023; Gouvernement du Québec, 2023t)

3.2.1 Job search spaces

Job search websites

Word of mouth

The people around you can help you find a job, for example by recommending you to their employer.

Trade shows and job fairs

At these events, companies that are hiring present their job offers.

Facebook groups

Some Facebook groups post job offers. Beware of fraudulent job offers.

Temporary placement agencies

It is best to be hired directly by an employer. If this is not possible, there are temporary placement agencies that act as intermediaries. They can send you to different workplaces. Be careful with these agencies, as they are not always reliable.

I received a lot of help when I arrived. Now, I help people however I can by volunteering, to pay it forward. – Carolina A.

What really helped me was that I did a lot of volunteer work. I volunteered with a community organization and with the PRAIDAProgramme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (English: Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Refugee Claimants) . That’s how I made friends, my pod, my second family. – Bernadette

3.2.2 Other options to find a job

Getting your qualifications and skills recognized

Self-employment

Self-employment is when you work for yourself, for example by doing translation contracts. 

To guide you: Help for businesses and the self-employed | Revenu Québec

Internships

It is sometimes possible to do internships (paid or unpaid) in certain workplaces, which gives you experience in Québec. Workplaces sometimes hire interns at the end of their internship.

Recrutement Santé Québec project

This is a pilot project that allows refugee claimants to work in the health sector. You must have a valid work permit and be sufficiently fluent in French. To find out about the eligibility requirements and steps to take, visit the following websites:

Tourism employment project

This pilot project allows refugee claimants who have a work permit or who are in the process of obtaining one to work in tourism. For more information: Home – CQRHT – Objectif Tourisme.

Volunteering

Volunteering is a very common activity in Québec. This can be an opportunity to practise your French and meet new people while you look for a salaried job. Volunteering can also help you with your job search. Find out more by visiting the Fédération des centres d’action bénévole du Québec website: Liste des centres – FCABQ [French only]

If you are in Montréal, the PRAIDAProgramme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (English: Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Refugee Claimants) (514 484-7878, extension 64500) and Welcome Collective (Volunteer with Us — Welcome Collective) have volunteer programs for refugee claimants.

3.2.3 Steps to follow to apply for a job

There are various other ways to apply for a job. The more standard approach presented here is not necessarily suitable for every situation.

  1. Prepare your CVCurriculum vitae and include your contact information and work experience.
  2. Send your CVCurriculum vitae to the employers you are interested in. 
  • You can also drop off your CVCurriculum vitae in person and ask to speak with the manager.
  • You may have to fill out a form provided by the employer rather than submitting your CVCurriculum vitae . 
  • For jobs that require a certain level of education, also send a cover letter (in which you explain why you should be hired).
  1. If the company is interested in your application, you will have one or two interviews, sometimes over the phone first. 
  • During the interview, you will be asked questions by the person interviewing you. This is to check that you have the skills required for the job. 
  • It is important to arrive at least 15 minutes before the interview time and to dress professionally. 
  • If you are selected after the interviews, you got the job! It may take several days or weeks before you receive a reply. Please note that some companies only contact selected candidates. You can ask the interviewer about estimated wait times and follow up with them if needed.
  • You may then have to sign a contract or send proof of your education.

3.3 Potential fraud

(CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail , s. d.-c; Meza, 2020)

Beware of fraudulent temporary placement agencies, which disappear overnight without paying their employees. If possible, research the agency and your employer online and check the status of the temporary placement agency in the CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail registry. Be cautious if there is no office with a fixed address.

Registry of licenced agencies – CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail  

To check the status of a temporary placement agency

 

3.4 Challenges finding a job

There are many challenges to finding a job. The most important thing is to be able to speak English or French. If you don’t speak French at all, you will have to work harder and your conditions will be worse. – Carolina A.

You have to reinvent yourself when you get here. The easiest job to find is work as a custodian at company offices, homes or shopping malls. It’s also easy to find work as an operator in factories. Once you’ve finished your French courses, there are a lot of resources to help you find a better job. – Ingrid

3.5 Unreported employment income

(JuriGo.ca, s. d.)

In Québec, unreported employment income (also known as “working under the table”) is illegal. If you are working and do not have a work permit yet, this is unreported employment income. Even with a work permit, some employers may try to pay you under the table.

If the government finds that you are working under the table while on social assistance, you will have to repay the money you received from the government and possibly pay a fine.

3.6 Being paid in cash

(Revenu Québec, s. d.-b)

You may be paid in cash, for example if you do house cleaning or renovation work. If so, you must declare this income in your annual tax return like any other kind of income. Not declaring this income is illegal.

4. Getting your qualifications and skills recognized

(Gouvernement du Québec, 2023k; MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) , 2023)

Getting your education and work experience recognized when you arrive in Québec can be very helpful for your job search. 

Many qualification and skill recognition services are not available to refugee claimants. You can ask Qualifications Québec for advice and assistance with getting your prior learning and skills recognized.

You also have access to comparative evaluation by the MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) .

Three options to have your qualifications and professional skills recognized:

In my case, at work, I’ve always been able to show my skills and experience. It’s always really paid off. It’s important not to feel inferior to other colleagues who already have diplomas from here, because the knowledge you’ve acquired stays in your head; the diploma is just a piece of paper that tells you so. – Bernadette

Have confidence in yourself. Be confident in your experience, knowledge and background. Even if you don’t have the Canadian credentials, it’s just a matter of time. But it’s important to keep that self-confidence. – Mariam

4.1 Recognition of prior learning and acquired competencies – Qualifications Québec

(Qualifications Québec, 2020a)

If you have skills in a field but don’t have a Québec diploma, the recognition of prior learning and acquired competencies could help you put them to good use. An example is if you have worked as a secretary for several years, but don’t have a foreign or Québec diploma. 

Contact Qualifications Québec, which can provide you with free information and support.

You could have your skills assessed and complete courses for some of the knowledge you lack. That way, you will be able to earn a Québec diploma faster. You may need to do a training course to fully master everything you need for a diploma.

Skills recognition is an individualized process that can take several months. Recognition may not apply to your area of training or your profile.

Qualifications Québec

For the recognition of prior learning and acquired competencies

4.2 Comparative evaluation – MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec)

(Gouvernement du Québec, 2023a)

The MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) ’s comparative evaluation compares programs of study from the Québec system and the system of the country where you studied. This evaluation may be requested in certain contexts, for example by an employer or regulatory body.

A comparative evaluation does not lead to a diploma or the equivalent of a diploma.

You will need to fill out a form and attach copies of your school documents and identity documents as well as translations, if necessary. There is a cost to apply and there may be specific requirements for the country where you studied.

To apply for a comparative evaluation, see the instructions on the Government of Québec website:

Submitting your comparative evaluation application | Government of Québec

5. Labour rights

(Cleveland, Hanley, Salamanca Cardona, et al., 2021; CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail , 2021a; Collectif Bienvenue, 2023d; Éducaloi, 2023c; Hanley, 2020; MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) , 2023; Services juridiques de Pointe-Saint-Charles et Petite-Bourgogne, 2017)

In Québec, people who work have rights that protect them from abuse and discrimination, regardless of their immigration status. Knowing and asserting your rights will not have a negative impact on your immigration status, no matter what your employer says. 

The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail ) protects your rights under the Act Respecting Labour Standards. The Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC-CTTIImmigrant Workers Centre ) can also help you assert your rights. For help from a lawyer, see Access to a lawyer and other legal resources in the Read This Information First section. 

Record the start and end dates of all your jobs, as well as your daily start times, end times and breaks at your job. If you experience issues at work such as an injury, preventive withdrawal or discrimination, it is important to keep a paper trail.

CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail

For labour rights

Legal clinic – ICW-CTTI 

Multilingual – Advice on immigration and labour rights issues

Get help quickly if someone close to you or your employer: 

  • Confiscates your papers 
  • Steals your money 
  • Forces you to work 
  • Forces you to perform certain services

Your employer must pay you for all hours you work, even if you receive room and board. This applies to all jobs, including agricultural work (at a farm) and domestic work.

5.1 Rights

(CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail , s. d.-b, 2021b, 2023)

5.1.1 Basic rights

Some aspects of the Act Respecting Labour Standards:

  • Minimum wage without tips: $15.25/hour (as of May 1, 2023)
  • Annual paid vacation entitlement (minimum two weeks)
  • Overtime premium
  • Maximum number of work hours: 14 hours/day or 50 hours/week AND at least 32 hours of consecutive rest hours per week
  • Measures governing termination, including employment insurance (unemployment)
  • Compensation for a work-related injury or illness
  • Sex/gender equality
  • Right to non-discrimination and non-harassment (physical, psychological and sexual).

Other work-related rights you may be entitled to:

  • Parental leave when you have a new child (QPIPQuébec Parental Insurance Plan )
  • Paid sick leave
  • Depending on your employment conditions, you may have more rights than those provided for in the Act Respecting Labour Standards.

5.1.2 If you are ill

  • You have the right to be absent from work for up to six months without pay if you are ill, even if the illness is not work-related. Your employer may ask you for a doctor’s note. 
  • You are entitled to two employer-paid sick days 
    • If you have been working at the same place for three months
  • You can apply for employment insurance
    • If you are ill for more than two weeks
    • If you have worked a minimum number of hours (generally between 420 and 700 hours)
  • Your employer does not have the right to fire you because you are sick.

5.1.3 If your family is growing

  • You can take up to one year of parental leave after the birth of your child. 
  • You may receive parental insurance through the QPIPQuébec Parental Insurance Plan as income during your parental leave: What is the Québec Parental Insurance Plan? 
  • Spouses are also entitled to take leave. Leave can be taken alternately or with your spouse.
  • If your workplace is dangerous for pregnancy, the CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail may put you on preventive withdrawal. You will then receive 90% of your income. 
  • If your pregnancy puts your own health at risk, you may be able to claim employment insurance sickness benefits until your child is born.
  • Your employer does not have the right to fire you because you are pregnant, are taking parental leave or are going on preventive withdrawal.

5.1.4 If you have family responsibilities

  • You have the right to refuse overtime if you need to provide care to a family member, such as picking up your children from daycare. 
  • You are entitled to up to 10 leaves per year for family reasons, for example to take your child to the doctor. 
  • Your employer has no right to fire you for meeting your family responsibilities.

5.1.5 For more information

CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail

For labour rights

Legal clinic – ICW-CTTI 

Multilingual – Advice on immigration and labour rights issues

5.2 Compensation for a work-related accident or illness

(Éducaloi, 2023a)

Your employer is responsible for your health and safety at work. This includes providing you with the right equipment, a safe working environment, etc.

If you get injured or sick, determine whether your work caused the injury or illness. For example:

  • Are you sick because you breathe in toxic products at work? 
  • Are you injured from moving heavy objects at work?
  • Are you experiencing depression due to psychological ill-treatment at work?

If your health problem is work-related: 

Your employer may have to pay your salary for the first 14 days of the injury or illness for which you are unable to work. After 14 days, the CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail may pay you an income replacement indemnity.

5.3 Termination of employment

(Emploi et Développement social Canada, 2023a)

5.3.1 Termination conditions

If you have worked for the same company for three months or more, they must notify you in writing if they want to terminate your employment:

  • One week in advance if you have worked there for less than one year
  • Two weeks in advance if you have worked there for more than one year

In all cases, your employer must:

If your employer does not respect these termination conditions, contact the CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail and/or IWC-CTTIImmigrant Workers Centre .

In addition, an employer does not have the right to fire you for a discriminatory reason or because you are asking for your rights to be respected. If this happens to you, you can ask the CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail or the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse for help (see the Rights and Protections section).

5.3.2 Employment insurance

You need to have worked a certain number of reported hours (often between 420 and 700 hours) to be entitled to employment insurance after your employment ends. You must also meet other conditions: EI regular benefits – Canada.ca

To apply: EI regular benefits – Apply – Canada.ca

Don’t hesitate to ask a counsellor for help with your employment insurance application. Also note that it is possible to appeal Service Canada’s decision if you disagree with it.

Find a Service Canada office in Québec

5.3.3 For more information

Resources to help you apply for employment insurance:

Mouvement Action-Chômage

Found in many cities throughout Québec. Search for Mouvement Action-Chômage online with the name of your town or region.

Legal clinic – ICW-CTTI 

Multilingual – Advice on immigration and labour rights issues

Employment Rights – The Welcome Guide – Welcome Collective 

Greater Montréal – Employment rights resources 

 

211

Multilingual – Information and referral service for social and community services

5.4 Filing a labour complaint

(CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail , s. d.-d)

The CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail is responsible for ensuring that the Act Respecting Labour Standards is applied, notably by carrying out inspections. If necessary, the CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail can generally represent you free of charge before the Tribunal administratif du travail, regardless of your immigration status. Filing a complaint will have no impact on your immigration status.

If your employer does not comply with labour standards, you can file a complaint with the CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail

Note that complaints must be made as soon as possible. The deadline to file a complaint after an incident varies. To find out more, see How to file a complaint | Commission des normes de l’équité de la santé et de la sécurité du travail – CNESST

If you would like to make a complaint about unreported employment income, you can contact the IWC-CTTIImmigrant Workers Centre . Note that it is more difficult to assert your rights when you are doing unreported work.

5.4.1 For more information

6. Pay stub

(CNESSTCommission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail , s. d.-a; Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec, 2015)

Every time your pay is deposited into your account, you will receive a piece of paper called a “pay stub.” It contains information about: 

  • The pay period 
  • Your salary (net and gross) 
  • The number of hours worked and paid, including overtime, if any 
  • What was deducted from your salary for taxes and other deductions (your union dues, for example, if you are unionized)

If you have questions about the content of your pay stub or are unsure about the deductions shown, ask your employer for clarification.

To-do list


Employment
Employment
  • Apply for a SINSocial insurance number from Service Canada
  • Search for a job
    • See the Employment section of the Carnets de route website to find out about different resources and places to find a job

    • Search for job offers, prepare your curriculum vitae (CVCurriculum vitae ) and cover letter and apply for jobs

    • Prepare for interviews

    • Get employment assistance, if necessary

  • Get your qualifications and skills recognized
    • Get advice from Qualifications Québec, if needed
    • Ask the MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) for a comparative evaluation, if needed
  • See the Employment section of the Carnets de route website for information about your rights at work

  • If you lose your job, apply for employment insurance from Service Canada, if eligible

  • Report a change of address or email as soon as possible: see the Read This Information First section

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