November 20, 2018
Recent Announcements Affecting Canada’s Francophones
According to the 2016 Census, 10.3 percent of the population living outside of Quebec is able to conduct a conversation in French, compared to 94.5 percent in Quebec. The government of Canada announced several new initiatives aimed at improving access for French-speaking immigrants outside of Quebec. During a speech to mark National Francophone Immigration Week earlier this month, the Minster of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen described his plans to do the following:
- Improve access to and provide more affordable French testing;
- Increase the availability of services in French for new immigrants arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport;
- Increase funding for Francophone Integration Pathway, which provides settlement services; and
- Launch an expression of interest process in search of an organization to provide language training to individuals who have listed French as their preferred official language.
These initiatives form part of the government’s Action Plan for Increasing Francophone Immigration, introduced in March 2018. One of the goals of the plan is for 4.4 percent of new immigrants outside of Quebec to be francophone by 2023.
Given the importance of linguistic diversity to Canadian society, the federal government’s moves towards improved services for francophones are encouraging. It appears, however, that a different approach is being taken at the provincial level. In Ontario, where 4.1 percent of the population reported French as their first official language in 2016, members of the French-speaking community received some disappointing news last week: The provincial government intends to eliminate the position of French language services commissioner and will not be building a French-language university in Toronto.