June 9, 2017 – Francophone immigration numbers are far short of the Canadian federal government’s ambitious target, 2016 figures show.
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).
What the LMIA considers
- The wages and working conditions being offered to the foreign worker
- The availability of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to do the work in question
- Whether a transfer of useful knowledge and skills would result from hiring the foreign worker
- Whether hiring the foreign worker will help create jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents
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.
The federal government will highlight that Mobilité Francophone only launched in 2016, meaning the real impact on immigration levels will not be felt until 2018 or 2019. It is unlikely francophone candidates have been able to obtain a work permit, gain the required experience, then apply and get accepted for an economic immigration stream all in 12 months.
However, the low numbers will still represent a concern, particularly given the federal government also has an online immigration portal specifically aimed at French-speaking candidates.
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
Then, as of June 5, 2017, Express Entry changes saw more points for those with a high level of French.
Candidates will 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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