Canada’s federal government released its Action Plan for Official Languages 2023-2028 in Ottawa on April 26.
The new Action Plan includes $1.4 billion over five years in addition to the $2.7 billion in the previous Action Plan. This adds up to over $4.1 billion over five years. It is the largest amount ever provided by a government to support official languages.
The Action Plan includes four main priorities:
- Accelerate the restoration of the demographic weight of Francophones through Francophone immigration
- Promote lifelong learning opportunities for our two official languages
- Support the vitality of official-language minority communities
- Build on positive government action to support communities
How will the new Action Plan support Francophone immigration?
Francophone immigration is key to building French-speaking communities in Canada, especially outside of Quebec. To that end, the Action Plan will see $13.4 million over five years invested in a new policy and operational framework for Francophone immigration that will revisit overall governance and current commitments under the Francophone Immigration Strategy launched in 2019.
The government says the new operational framework policy will help boost Francophone immigration and facilitate settlement and integration of French-speaking or bilingual immigrants in Francophone minority communities.
There will also be an investment of $18.5 million over five years to promote and build recruitment support both in Canada and abroad, including in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas.
Additionally, $50 million over five years will go to further consolidate the Francophone integration pathway. The pathway seeks to make the settlement and integration easier for newcomers to Canada and improve the reception capacity of Francophone minority communities.
The Action Plan says this will be achieved through existing initiatives, such as Welcoming Francophone Communities, and new measures, such as a strategy to better support French-speaking women immigrants.
With an emphasis on early learning, there will be $16.3 million invested over five years to support a series of targeted, interconnected initiatives to boost foreign recruitment of primary- and secondary-level French teachers and French-speaking teachers. The teachers will then settle in a Francophone minority community in Canada.
Finally, the government will commit $3.5 million to improve Francophone and bilingual immigration under existing programs.
Francophone immigration in Canada
Canada’s government has a mandate to promote and protect the status of both official languages, English and French. According to the Official Languages Act, there are three objectives:
- ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of Canada and ensure equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all federal institutions;
- support the development of English and French linguistic minority communities and advance the equality of status and use of the English and French languages within Canadian society; and
- set out the powers, duties and functions of federal institutions with respect to the official languages of Canada.
It falls onto Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to take responsibility for attracting and retaining French speaking immigrants to help build and support French-speaking communities outside of Quebec, Canada’s only French speaking province (aside from New Brunswick, which is officially bilingual).
In January this year, immigration minister Sean Fraser announced that over the past year, more than 16,300 new immigrants have settled in Francophone minority communities across Canada.
In 2006, the first census year, the number of admissions of French-speaking residents outside Quebec was just over 2,800. The 2022 admissions represent a significant jump of 3.02% (from 1.38% to 4.4%).
Still the share of French-speakers in Canada is declining. IRCC reported that the proportion of French speaking Canadians dropped from 22.2% in 2016 to 21.4% in 2021.