A new law has been passed by Canada that highlights the significance of the French language in Canada by giving priority to francophone immigration and minorities outside Quebec.
Bill C-13 for the first time recognizes the contribution of immigration in the vitality of Francophone minority communities outside Quebec by including certain measures for the implementation of the modernized Official Languages Act (OLA). The OLA is the federal law that declared English and French to be Canada’s official languages. The new law modernizes the Official Languages Act to acknowledge that French, as a Canadian national language, is under danger and needs to be safeguarded. It is split into three sections. The first portion modifies the Official Languages Act, the second part governs the use of French in privately owned, federally regulated businesses, and the third part describes how this law will be legally applied.
The immigration-related measures associated with Bill C-13 include certain legislative changes. In particular, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is required to create a francophone immigration policy with objectives, targets, and indicators. Additionally, it acknowledges that immigration is a factor in sustaining or boosting the demographic importance of Francophone minority communities.
The law also allows those who work in federally regulated private companies in Quebec or in French minority communities outside Quebec to conduct business and receive services in French. In order to increase access to justice, the law also stipulates that all justices appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada must be bilingual.
Due to a shortage of bilingual professionals, the Liberal government hopes that the new law would enhance the availability of childcare, education, and health care services in French across Canada.
IRCC takes up responsibility of francophone immigration
There has been a noticeable reduction in the demographic weight of Francophone minority communities. The most recent census, conducted in 2021, revealed a decrease in the overall percentage of Francophones living outside of Quebec, from 3.6% in 2016 to 3.3% in 2021.
The IRCC is aware of this decline and has a history of supporting both access to French settlement services and the immigration of francophones outside Quebec.
In order to increase efforts throughout the immigration process, from employing and promoting IRCC missions overseas to selection and integration in Canada, IRCC created the Francophone Immigration Strategy in 2019. According to IRCC, they are on track to achieve their goal of admitting 4.4% of French-speaking individuals to Canada outside Quebec by 2023.
The major steps undertaken by the Francophone Immigration Strategy include:
- Granting extra points under Express Entry for candidates who speak French and are bilingual.
- In the process of obtaining permanent residency from temporary residency for essential workers and recent international graduates already in Canada, dedicated streams for French-speaking and bilingual candidates will be included.
- Additional financing will enable over 80 francophone service providers to give settlement assistance to French-speaking immigrants outside Quebec.
The strategy on francophone immigration is now finally being developed by IRCC, and it includes a new and more significant admission target for francophone immigration outside Quebec.