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October 30, 2019

French Speaking Newcomers: Bienvenue au Canada!

Posted by Jessica Templeman - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Earlier this year, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, announced the details of the current Canadian Government’s strategy for increasing Francophone and bilingual immigration, including to Francophone minority communities.[1] The specific objectives of this strategy include:

  • Meeting a target of 4.4% migration by French speakers outside of Quebec by 2023;
  • Ensuring the successful integration and retention of Francophone and bilingual migrants; and
  • Reinforcing the capacity of French-speaking communities.

The comprehensive plan announced in support of these objectives was developed following consultation with Francophone communities by the Canadian Government between October 2017 and January 2018. This plan is comprised of the following 5 overlapping initiatives, although additional measures may still be introduced if ongoing gaps are identified:

1. Strengthening selection tools: To support increased French migration, selection tools will be advanced that favour French-speaking and bilingual candidates. This includes through the provision of additional points for strong French language skills in the Express Entry system, as well as supporting access to French-language testers for future applicants to economic streams and introducing the Mobility Francophone stream which provides for French-speaking foreign nationals to gain Canadian work experience.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has committed to: 1) raising awareness specifically of the latter program with Canadian employers; 2) targeting communications regarding eligibility for federal, provincial and territorial immigration programs to Francophone international students and temporary workers; and 3) testing the success of new approaches in order to understand and further undergird links between French-speaking temporary residents and Francophone communities.

2. Targeted expansion of promotion and recruitment support: Recruitment of Francophone migrants both within Canada and internationally will be not only continued but expanded. This includes at the Destination Canada mobility forum, held every year at the Embassy of Canada in France, where participants have access to information about Canadian French-speaking communities and immigration programs. New web forums and digital advertising have also been planned that target French-speaking migrants. Finally, Canadian employers and provincial, territorial and community initiatives will be offered additional support in promoting and recruiting Francophone and bilingual candidates.

3. Joint action with key partners: IRCC has committed to increased bilateral and multilateral coordination and collaboration with community partners at the provincial, territorial and federal levels. It will also ensure further communication with provinces and territories seeking to recruit more French-speakers, including by focusing on overcoming associated challenges and supporting any opportunities for migration. Key to this effort is IRCC’s commitment to the “by and for Francophones” principle, which requires that French-speaking communities be actively involved in the development and implementation of policies and programs for Francophone migration. Adherence to this principle would ensure that programs and policies address the specific needs of French-speaking communities and newcomers, identified at the ground level.

4. Enhanced resettlement and settlement pathways: IRCC has undertaken several initiatives to enhance settlement and resettlement pathways, including:

  • Providing $28 million dollars in funding to over 50 Francophone organizations committed to delivering a variety of direct and indirect settlement services.
  • Committing to consolidating a Francophone integration pathway, beginning before arrival to Canada and until citizenship status is obtained. Linkages between French-speaking migrants and Francophone communities will specifically be facilitated, as well as delivery of quality settlement services “by and for Francophones”.
  • Newcomers will be provided with detailed information that supports their settlement.
  • $11 million will be invested over the upcoming 5 years to support the settlement of French-speaking newcomers. This includes by investing in the provision of French services by Francophone organizations on arrival at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • In partnership with Francophone communities, IRCC will support the creation of spaces across Canada where Francophone migrants will feel welcome. Efforts in support of this specific measure will begin in 2020 and will focus on fostering community partnerships.
  • At the Federal level, increasing professional development for providers of Francophone services and improving the capacity of Reseaux en immigration francophone.
  • Approaches that assist with the resettlement and integration of Francophone refugees will specifically be strengthened, including through better communication with communities and French-speaking refugees themselves.

5. Coherent policies support by evidence and outcomes: IRCC has instituted efforts to collect data from immigration application forms that will support the development of a better and more inclusive definition of “French-speaking immigrant”. This effort will also work to identify the primary source countries for Francophone migrants. Official language data on temporary residents will be collected. Finally, IRCC will implement new tools and mechanisms that will support the monitoring of the progress and performance of the action plan under review here. All outcomes will be systemically communicated, including through public reporting and meetings with partners and stakeholders.

We look forward to further information on implementation and success of this plan given the recent Federal election. 

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