This morning, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller announced a series of initiatives that will support Francophone immigration outside of Quebec.
The measures include a new Francophone immigration policy, the renewal and expansion of the Welcoming Francophone Communities initiatives, a new program to support Francophone immigration, and the implementation of the Action Plan for Official Languages.
The Minister said the new Francophone immigration policy will promote the growth of Francophone minority communities and increasing the weight of these communities. The policy includes measures such as promotion and recruitment support efforts in order to address labour shortages.
Through the renewal of the Welcoming Francophone Communities initiatives, 14 Canadian communities will continue to receive funding to help integrate French-speaking newcomers. The initiative will be expanded to allow the Canadian Government to select up to 10 more Canadian communities that will be able to support French-speaking newcomer integration.
The new Francophone Immigration Support Program will fund projects that will work to eliminate barriers to Francophone immigration.
Finally, the Minister highlighted that the target of 4.4% French speaking residents admissions outside of Quebec was surpassed in December of 2023, reaching about 4.7%. IRCC has previously announced that this target is 6% for 2024, 7% in 2025 and 8$ for 2026.
“Francophone immigration plays a crucial role in strengthening our national identity,” he said. “The numerous measures we are implementing will attract skilled Francophone workers who will support the economic and cultural development of these communities. Our efforts to ensure the successful reception and integration of French-speaking newcomers support our unwavering commitment to restoring and increasing the demographic weight of Francophone minority communities.”
Francophone immigration targets initiatives
In 2023, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced new selection criteria for candidates applying through Canada’s Express Entry system of programs (including the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC)).
Among these new selection criteria (which focused primarily on professional experience of candidates within in-demand occupations in Canada) were candidates who held proficiency in French. Individuals eligible for this category would need to prove a proficiency in French equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 7 or higher, in reading, listening, writing and speaking.
The creation of this special category for immigration comes through IRCC’s plan for Francophone Immigration, released in 2019. Among its objectives, the immigration plan looked to increase the proportion of Francophone immigrants outside of Quebec to 4.4% by the end of 2023. In addition to this the plan seeks to support the successful integration and retention of French-speaking newcomers and strengthen the capacity of Francophone communities around Canada.
These initiatives are further supported by the Government of Canada’s Action Plan for Official Languages 2023-2028, which commits more than $80 million CAD over five years to various francophone immigration and retention activities, including consolidating Francophone integration pathways, recruiting primary and secondary-level French and French speaking teachers, and improving Francophone immigration initiatives under current frameworks.
Why Francophone Immigration?
Canada’s federal government has a mandate to promote and protect the status of both official languages (English and French), according to the Official Languages Act. Among these objectives, the government must ensure respect for, and enable development of both official languages in Canada—including advancing the equality of status of English and French in official Canadian institutions and society and supporting the development of minority linguistic communities (either French or English) in the country.
Due to these objectives, the responsibility of welcoming and retaining Francophone newcomers to Canada (and further supporting French-speaking communities within the country) falls with IRCC, a key reason why the department has undertaken these initiatives to welcome more French speaking newcomers.