Ottawa is spending $85,000 to help the Université de l’Ontario français launch its Observatoire en immigration francophone au Canada, a think tank to study francophone immigration to Canada, by funding its oversight committee.
Composed of university and community members, that oversight committee will support the work of key players in the francophone immigration sector and define and validate the observatory’s mission, objectives and governance model.
“Francophone immigration plays a key role in supporting the vitality and growth of francophone communities outside Quebec,” said Immigration Minister Marc Miller.
“The Observatoire en immigration francophone au Canada will contribute to Canada’s efforts to promote the reception and integration of francophone immigrants.
“The observatory is a great example of community partners’ contribution to the achievement of our ambitious objectives for francophone immigration to strengthen francophone minority communities across the country.”
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Earlier this year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) set new francophone immigration targets for the country, outside of Quebec.
“They were set at six per cent for 2024, seven per cent for 2025 and eight per cent for 2026,” said Miller. “These ambitious, realistic and achievable targets demonstrate Canada’s commitment to strengthening the vitality of francophone minority communities, supporting labour needs across the country and contributing to restoring the demographic weight of francophones.”
Those francophone immigration targets were announced on Nov. 1 as part of the 2024 – 2026 Immigration Levels Plan.
The injection of funds for the Université de l’Ontario français was made during the observatory’s grand opening at the Centre francophone du Grand Toronto.
Ottawa is hoping more knowledge and understanding of the realities of francophone immigration will enable the IRCC to better direct its efforts in the area of francophone immigration.
“The Observatoire en immigration francophone will play a unifying role in a crucial area for the future of the francophonie in Ontario and Canada,” said Pierre Ouellette, the Université de l’Ontario français’ president.
“It will meet an important need for research on the dynamics of migration in the Canadian francophonie.”
Part of the funding will be dedicated to developing a survey on francophone immigration research needs in Canada which will be conducted with the community and academia. The survey results will guide the observatory’s research plan and help meet the research needs and priorities of the key players in francophone immigration.
Canadian immigration officials are currently undertaking consultations to better understand francophone immigration to Canada ahead of a planned revamping of the Official Languages Act.
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“Over the past few months, my department has engaged in consultations on the new francophone immigration policy with the provinces and territories, as well as with representatives of francophone communities,” said Miller.
“We are actively working on this policy under the modernized Official Languages Act. It will be launched soon and will clearly establish the approach that will be used to support the development of francophone communities outside Quebec.
Francophone immigration to Canada is already increasing. IRCC data reveals francophone immigration to the country outside of Quebec more than doubled last year, spiking almost 135.7 per cent to 16,380 new permanent residents from 6,950 in 2021.
Last year’s performance was also roughly double the previous high of 8,470 new, francophone permanent residents outside of Quebec in 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, Ottawa also opened the doors of the francophone stream of the International Mobility Program (IMP), the Mobilité Francophone or Francophone Mobility Program, to all French-speaking foreign nationals who want to come work in Canada within the next two years.
“Our government is committed to increasing the presence of French-speaking immigrants from coast to coast to coast,” said then-Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
“The changes to the Francophone Mobility Program open the possibility for this and provide support for the development of the francophone minority communities that welcome them. By attracting more French-speaking individuals, we embrace a wealth of linguistic talents and cultural perspectives and a shared heritage that enriches the cultural tapestry of our great nation.”
Until then, the Mobilité Francophone stream had been reserved for highly skilled francophone foreign nationals wanting to get work permits and spend some time at a job in Canada.
The change allowed any francophone foreign nationals to apply for a work permit under the program for any job in Canada classified under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system with the exception of jobs in primary agriculture.
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Applicants must have a moderate language proficiency of French for oral comprehension and oral expression, equivalent to a level five of the language requirements, and must provide proof that they meet these language requirements.
“This documentary evidence may be, but is not limited to, a French evaluation test or the French competencies test, a diploma or degree from a French college or university, or a document confirming studies at a French-language institution,” notes Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Expansion of the Mobilité Francophone program was welcomed by francophones in Canada and seen as a way to boost the vibrancy of their communities.
“As a proud Franco-Ontarian, I believe we need to do everything we can to protect the French culture and language,” said Marie-France Lalonde, parliamentary secretary to the immigration minister.
“Increasing francophone immigration outside Quebec remains one of our top priorities. That’s why we will always advocate for the expansion of programs, like the Francophone Mobility Program, that support the vitality of francophone minority communities across Canada.”