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Where Blue-Collar Jobs Go Begging, a Plea for More ‘Able Bodies’

  • Hiring isn’t easy in Canadian region with lowest unemployment
  • Employers send buses to Montreal and go recruit in Nicaragua
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Every Sunday, two vans pick up laborers from Montreal for a four-hour journey northeast to small towns near the border with Maine. There, they work at factories for the week, stay in accommodation partly paid by their employer, and return to Quebec’s largest city on Friday.

“We would really like to hire locally, but we have no choice,” said Sonia Rousseau, head of human resources at René Matériaux Composites, the Sigma Industries Inc. unit that’s been busing the mostly African and Latin American workers to its plastics factories for at least two years. “If we don’t have enough workers, we have to stop the production line, which is something we can’t afford to do.”