March 6, 2018 – Canada has announced a new action plan for increasing francophone immigration outside Quebec.
Representatives from federal, provincial and territorial governments have committed to taking concrete action to boost francophone immigration.
Bringing in more French speakers is seen as key to maintaining Canada’s cultural identity as a bilingual society.
A recent meeting chaired by federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and his Ontario counterpart Laura Albanese saw a list of commitments published.
FPT Action Plan for Increasing Francophone Immigration Outside of Quebec
- Promoting awareness of Francophone immigration opportunities, immigration pathways and settlement services to prospective French-speaking applicants;
- Increasing employer engagement in French-speaking immigrant recruitment and employment;
- Increasing the availability, awareness and accessibility of French language services; and
- Supporting diverse and inclusive Francophone communities.
The Action Plan supports the following outcomes:
- an increased number of French-speaking immigrants settling in Canada outside Quebec;
- an increased participation rate of French-speaking immigrants in local labour markets; and
- an increased participation rate of French-speaking immigrants in broader communities and social networks.
“The federal government is committed to helping to build and sustain francophone minority communities across Canada, in part through francophone immigration,” Hussen said.
Albanese added: “Ontario is home to Canada’s largest francophone population outside Quebec and our province is committed to achieving our target of 5 per cent francophone immigration.”
Francophone immigration numbers fell far short of the Canadian federal government’s ambitious target in 2016
Just 4,400 French-speaking immigrants, or 1.8 per cent of total, settled outside Quebec in 2016, despite several policies aimed at increasing the numbers. The stated federal government target is 4.4 per cent by 2023.
While there is still time to improve on the percentage, the government will be concerned that targeted policies are not having more of an impact.
As of June 1, 2016, the federal government launched a specific stream for francophone temporary workers under the International Mobility Program.
It means that all French-speaking skilled workers can get a Canada work permit without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment(LMIA).
The aim is that francophones will be able to get the Canadian experience they need to qualify for permanent residence under one of the economic immigration programs.
New Canada Express Entry Changes Take Effect On June 6, 2017
French Language Spot Checks For Some Quebec Immigrants
Ontario Moves Application Process Online for French-Speaking Skilled Workers
French Skilled Workers Outside Quebec Exempt From Labour Market Impact Assessment
As of June 5, 2017, Express Entry changes saw more points for those with a high level of French.
Candidates score 15 additional points for a level 7 in listening, speaking, reading and writing in the Niveu de Competence Liguistique Canadiens (NLC) combined with an English score of 4 or below in the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB).
Those points will rise to 30 if the French level 7 is combined with an English level 5 or above.
The extra points are in addition to the existing language points. Up to 136 points can be awarded for a candidate’s first official language, and 24 points for the second.
A shift in the worldwide migration outlook has also had an impact on where new francophone immigrants are coming from.
The Ontario Office of Francophone Affairs says only 35 per cent of Toronto’s French-speaking community are from Europe. Meanwhile, almost 45 per cent come from Africa, the Middle East or the Caribbean. The figures also show visible minorities make up half of Toronto’s young francophone population.
Unemployment among francophones with visible minorities in Ontario is twice the francophone average in the province. This is put down to issues with racism and cultural differences, as well as credential recognition.
At a provincial level, Ontario is doing more than most to change this, setting its own francophone target of 5 per cent of all immigrants. In 2016, the province saw 2,400 francophones settle there, more than half the Canada-wide total, but still only 2.2 per cent of all Ontario’s new immigrants.
The province says francophones are a priority in terms of new services, settlement programs, plus bridge training and language classes.
Provincial officials point to progress being made, including francophones making up 3 per cent of new skilled immigrants under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program in 2016, compared to 1 per cent in 2015.
Recent research in Ontario also found that remuneration for advertised jobs requiring French was up to 20 per cent higher.
Clearly, a quick fix for Canada’s dwindling francophone immigrant population outside Quebec does not exist. But a combination of policies at federal and provincial level is likely to see an increase in percentages in the coming years.
The goal of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is to have francophone newcomers make up at least 4 per cent of all economic immigrants settling outside of Quebec by 2018. The overall target for francophone immigration outside Quebec is 4.4 per cent by 2023.
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