ARCHIVED - Chapter 1 – Shaping the Future of Linguistic Duality: Setting Concrete Targets

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The careful selection of new immigrants to Canada has two major objectives: to ensure that immigration benefits the country as well as its new immigrants. Unfortunately, what has been a win-win situation for the country as a whole and for most immigrants, is a losing proposition to Canada's Francophone minority communities. Canada's Anglophone population relies heavily on immigration for its demographic growth but very few immigrants have been attracted to Francophone communities. The unintended effect: immigration inadvertently reduces the demographic weight of these Francophone communities. In order to maintain their demographic position, they need to attract and retain a percentage of immigrants that corresponds to their own demographic weight. Currently, about 4.5% of Canadians outside Quebec are Francophones, which means that at least the same percentage of all new immigrants outside Quebec should be and continue to be French-speaking. Otherwise Francophone minority communities will pay the demographic price for Canada's increasing reliance on immigration.

In the 2001 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act the Canadian Government has, for the first time, made the development and vitality of official language minority communities an explicit immigration objective.[7] Such commitment was urgently needed in order to ensure that Canada's Francophone minority communities will from now on receive their fair share of French-speaking immigrants.

Two types of statistics can be used to illustrate the current demographic situation:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada reports on the languages that immigrants can speak when they arrive in Canada.
  • Statistics Canada reports on the proportion of immigrants within each of Canada's two language communities. This gives us a general picture of how "immigrant-rich" each language group is.

"Immigrant-richness" is not only a sign of diversity within a community but, at a time when population growth increasingly depends on immigration, indicates the extent to which a community is successful in boosting its ranks through the integration of newcomers. Therefore, if 4.5% of the population outside Quebec is Francophone, it follows that the same percentage of immigrants arriving outside Quebec every year should not only be Francophone at the time of arrival but continue to speak French, i.e. not be absorbed into the Anglophone majority community. Sending one's children to French schools and taking part in activities of the Francophone community are some indicators of an immigrant's continued attachment to the minority language.

Some progress can, in fact, be detected: over the past three years, the number of Francophone immigrants has been increasing and currently stands at 3.1%.

Table 2: Francophone* Immigrants Settling Outside Quebec


Total newcomers outside Quebec

Francophone newcomers outside Quebec

Expected long term retention (50%)



3,220   (2.0%)

1,610   (1.0%)



5,570   (2.9%)

2,785   (1.5%)



6,722   (3.1%)

3,361   (1.6%)

*Includes immigrants with knowledge of both official languages
(Sources: Canada 2002a; Commissioner 2002)

While the percentage of Francophone new arrivals has increased from 2% in 1999 to 3.1% in 2001, based on present language transfer trends among immigrants (Commissioner 2002) only half of these 3.1% or 6,722 immigrants are likely to remain within the Francophone community. In other words, only 1.6% or 3,361 immigrants can be expected to stay Francophone.

Consider the imbalance that has already arisen. Apart from Quebec’s Anglophone community and the small Francophone community in Newfoundland, the official language minority groups in all provinces lag severely behind the majority community in terms of their immigrant-richness.

Table 3: Comparison of Immigrant Percentages Within Anglophone and Francophone Communities by Province/Territory

In Ontario 6% of Francophones are immigrants. However, compared to the percentage of immigrants among Anglophones in Ontario (25%), Ontario's Francophones are still only about a quarter as immigrant-rich as Ontario Anglophones. In Quebec, on the other hand, the province's Francophone majority only counts 5% immigrants whereas the province's Anglophone minority consists of 27% immigrants.

British Columbia's francophonie is quite immigrant-rich. 15% of Francophones in B.C. are immigrants. This means that they are well on their way to approaching the immigrant proportion among B.C.'s Anglophone population, which stands at 23%.

Chinese in Quebec: Innovative Approaches to Credential Recognition

Most Chinese immigrants who settle in Quebec know neither English nor French, but among those who do know at least one official language, English is by far the more commonly known language. At least ten percent of immigrants from China know English but less than half of one percent know French (Canada 2002a). This makes the Chinese immigrant community certainly more Anglophone than Francophone, at least as far as newcomers are concerned.

Service à la famille chinoise du Grand Montréal (SFCGM) is the largest organization serving Chinese immigrants in Montreal. Mr. Su Zhao works as a consultant for SFCGM in the area of employment. He admits that language is a major hurdle for newcomers, especially when they are unable to receive certain services in English. Most immigrants have between two and four years of post-secondary education, particularly in the fields of computer science, chemistry, electronics and engineering. He cites the lack of prior work experience in the Quebec labour market and employer demands for bilingual personnel as the two biggest hurdles for his professional clients.

But two programs are particularly promising with regard to overcoming these hurdles: the Programme d'immersion professionnelle--CAMO-PI (Service à la famille chinoise du Grand Montréal 2001, pg. 18) and the initiative Access to the Order of Engineers. The former gives professional immigrants a first opportunity to work in Quebec, which, in most cases, leads to permanent employment. The latter is an initiative to help Chinese engineers join the Quebec Order of Engineers. Su Zhao's only complaint is that there are not enough places in these programs. In 2000, his organization offered employment counselling services to approximately 1,200 immigrants. But over the past four years, available spots on the Programme d'immersion professionnelle have only increased from five to 20. The program matches each participant with an employer who takes on the immigrant for a period of 30 weeks. The employer only pays half of a normal salary. The other half is subsidized by the Government of Quebec, but the money is paid out by SFCGM. This ensures, Mr. Zhao explains, that immigrants attend regular counselling sessions with him to guarantee that the integration into the new professional environment is proceeding smoothly and that any potential problems can be cleared up with SFCGM's help. The success of the program speaks for itself: 85% of those placed through the program are hired into permanent positions by their employers. Mr. Zhao estimates that one third of his 1,200 annual clients could benefit from this program with similar rates of success.

SFCGM has been very proactive and now works together with the Université de Montréal where a small number of Chinese engineers (8 participants in the year 2000) are taking special French-for-engineers classes. SFCGM's former director, Ms. Cynthia Lam, explained the particular problems her organization's clients are experiencing during a hearing of the Commission permanente de la culture of Quebec's National Assembly on September 13th, 2000. In her remarks, she makes reference to both employment programs:

[our translation] "We have the employment seekers' database. There are currently 550 people in it--job candidates that are highly qualified, newcomers. And according to our analysis about 50% of these people are from the engineering sector. (...) We are also a community partner for the CAMO-PI program. As part of this program the Government of Quebec allows us to offer salary subsidies when employers are looking for professionals. (...) About forty employers have already hired candidates from our database." (Quebec 2000)

The words of Ping Fang, one of the first participants in the project, are encouraging:

"The project Access to the Quebec Order of Engineers is just like a door suddenly open to me. At last, I will be able to contribute to Quebec society in my own field! Employers in Quebec will also be able to take advantage of the expertise of immigrants who are qualified professionals." (Chinese Family Service of Greater Montreal 2000)

While Mr. Zhao hopes that his organization will be able to secure more money to place immigrants into subsidized internship programs, he is also proud of his organization's achievements. Very few Chinese immigrants, he says, move on to other parts of Canada once they have begun to make an investment into learning French while maintaining English and their children are happily attending school. Life in the Chinese community in Montreal is truly multilingual: While knowledge of Canada's two official languages is a requirement for working in many professional fields, SFCGM now also offers Mandarin classes in order to help Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong become proficient in the variety of Chinese that is most in use on the Chinese mainland.

Alberta contains the third largest number of Francophone immigrants outside Quebec after Ontario and B.C., with just over 3,000 persons. This elevates the percentage of Francophone immigrants to just over 6%, which is about two and half times below the percentage of immigrants on the Anglophone side, which stands at 14.5%.

New Brunswick deserves special attention as more than one third of its population is Francophone. It should be of great concern that in a province with a Francophone population five times the size of Alberta's there would, in fact, be fewer Francophone immigrants (only 2,590). This makes New Brunswick the province with the lowest Francophone immigrant share of all Canadian provinces at just over 1%. It should be added, though, that even among New Brunswick's Anglophone population only slightly more than 4% are immigrants.

Recent efforts in Manitoba to entice more immigrants to settle there are very much needed if we consider the low percentage of Francophone immigrants in that province. Only 2.8% (or 1,285 persons) are immigrants compared with 12.2% among the province's Anglophones. This makes Manitoba the province with the widest gulf in immigrant-richness between Anglophones and Francophones.

Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and P.E.I. combined have only slightly more immigrant Francophones than Manitoba (1,450). Their percentage of immigrant Francophones ranges from 1.5% in P.E.I. to 3% in Saskatchewan, and is in each case about half the immigrant Anglophone percentage.


The new immigration legislation is an opportunity to ensure that all Canadians, Francophone or Anglophone, rural or urban, are benefiting in equal measure from the arrival of newcomers to Canada. In order to achieve this objective, however, more targeted selection and integration efforts must be undertaken, and the success of any such efforts must be closely monitored to show their effectiveness.

The Province of Newfoundland & Labrador, linguistically Canada's most homogenous province, has a total Francophone population of only 2,180 people, or 0.4% of the province's population. It is also the province with the lowest proportion of immigrants at only 1.6% of the general population. Somewhat surprisingly though, the Francophone population is far more immigrant-rich than the population in general: almost 10% of Newfoundland Francophones are immigrants. While the absolute numbers are small at 215, this makes Newfoundland the only Canadian province where the Francophone minority population has a greater proportion of immigrants than the Anglophone majority. Professional Francophones living in the capital of St. John's with origins in Europe or the nearby French islands of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon are likely to account for the bulk of the immigrant Francophone population (Butt 1998).

The Yukon and the Northwest Territories (which included Nunavut at the time the census was taken) have a combined Francophone population of 2,400, 135 of whom are immigrants. This puts the share of immigrant Francophones in the Northwest Territories at the same level as immigrant Anglophones (5%) and at about two thirds of the Anglophone equivalent in the Yukon (immigrant Francophones: 7%, immigrant Anglophones: 10.5%).

7 "3. (1) The objectives of this Act with respect to immigration are (...) (b.1) to support and assist the development of minority official languages communities in Canada." And also: "(3) This Act is to be construed and applied in a manner that (...) (e) supports the commitment of the Government of Canada to enhance the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada." (Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment site, S.C. 2001, c. 27)

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