By Rhonda Massad
Laval last week released its 2014-2019 development plan for the region.
The 75-page document, compiled under the auspices of the regional conference of elected municipal officials, included a renewed commitment to sustainable development, eco-citizenship, responsible consumption, eradicating poverty and social exclusion and addressed employment and environmental issues.
The plan was born out of several public consultations that some 150 Laval residents, organizations and institutions participated in. During the period from 2006-2011 Laval saw an increase in immigration, aging population and population growth that contributed to a total increase of two to three thousand people each year.
Factors that influenced the city’s burgeoning population included 4,000 new births during the past five years and the arrival of 2,500 new immigrants. Laval ranks third in Quebec as a destination for new arrivals to the country.
Severe income disparity
Laval’s success at attracting immigrants is accompanied by a marked contrast in poverty levels here. The five-year plan reported that between 2008-2012, recent immigrants and those who have made Laval their home during the past five years, suffer from an unemployment rate of 20 percent in the Montreal region.
In contrast, the unemployment rate for those born in Canada hovers close to seven percent. The rate of low-income households among newcomers in Laval is 19 percent—double to the 9.6 percent poverty rate for Canadian-born residents.
As a consequence, Laval’s welfare rolls are overwhelmingly dominated by immigrants.
Of the 37,568 students who frequented French Laval preschools, elementary and high schools in 2012-2013, 20,604—or 54.8 percent—were born outside of Canada or have at least one parent born outside of Canada.
In an interview, Councillor Raynald Adams told The Suburban that he was eager to get underway with an action plan to complement the five-year plan.
“The five-year plan was created in the previous mandate and there are many things I am pleased to see the attention it afforded to the environment,” he said, “but now it’s time to set forth an action plan that we can work on in the months to come.”
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