Canada passes new law to promote Francophone immigration

Canada has passed a new law that emphasizes the importance of the French language in Canada by prioritizing francophone immigration and minorities outside Quebec.

Bill C-13 introduces, for the first time, immigration into the Official Languages Act (OLA). The OLA is the federal statute that made English and French the official languages of Canada. The new law modernizes the Official Languages Act to recognize that French, as an official language of Canada, is being threatened and must be protected. It is divided into three parts. The first part makes amendments to the Official Languages Act, the second part regulates the use of French in federally regulated private businesses and the third part outlines the legal applications of the legislation.

The new law introduces immigration in the Official Languages Act for the first time, recognizing the importance of francophone immigration to francophone minority communities outside Quebec.

The immigration related measures include legislative changes. Particularly, the obligation for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to adopt a francophone immigration policy with objectives, targets, and indicators. In addition, the recognition of immigration as one of the factors that contributes to maintaining or increasing the demographic weight of Francophone minority communities.

The law also gives individuals working in federally regulated private business in Quebec, or in French minority communities outside of Quebec, the ability to work in French and be served in French. Further, the law requires that all judges appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada are bilingual in order to improve access to justice.

The Liberal government believes that the new law will help increase childcare, education and health care services in French across Canada, where there is a lack of bilingual workers.

IRCC’s commitment to francophone immigration

Francophone minority communities are experiencing a decline in demographic weight. The most recent 2021 Census showed that the overall proportion of Francophones outside Quebec went from 3.6% in 2016 to 3.3% in 2021.

IRCC recognizes this decline and has had a long-standing commitment to Francophone immigration outside Quebec, as well as ensuring access to French settlement services.

In 2019, IRCC launched the Francophone Immigration Strategy to reinforce efforts along the immigration journey, starting from the promotion and attraction of IRCC missions abroad, to selection and integration in Canada. IRCC claims they are on track to meet their target of welcoming 4.4% of French speaking admissions to Canada outside Quebec by 2023.

Some key initiatives under the Francophone Immigration Strategy include:

  • Allocated additional points for French speaking and bilingual candidates under Express Entry
  • Temporary dedicated streams for French-speaking and bilingual candidates as part of the temporary residence to permanent residence pathway for essential workers and recent international graduates already in Canada
  • Expanded funding to now have close to 80 francophone service providers to deliver settlement services to the French speaking newcomers outside Quebec

Finally, IRCC is currently working on the development of the policy on Francophone immigration, which includes a new and more consequential admission target for francophone immigration outside Quebec.

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