Languages commissioners call for concrete measures for Francophone immigration
Moncton, New Brunswick – March 31, 2017 – The Interim Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, Ghislaine Saikaley, along with her New Brunswick counterpart, Katherine d’Entremont, and the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario, François Boileau, reiterated today the importance and urgency of implementing concrete measures to foster immigration to Francophone minority communities.
The languages commissioners joined the ministers responsible for the Canadian Francophonie and the ministers responsible for immigration at a federal-provincial-territorial forum on Francophone immigration, organized by the Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie, in Moncton on March 30 and 31, 2017.
“It is essential for federal, provincial and territorial governments to step up their efforts to increase immigration to Francophone communities because the time to act is now and results have been slow to materialize. This ministerial forum is a unique opportunity to coordinate federal strategies with those of the provinces and territories,” said Mrs. Saikaley.
Promising initiatives have been introduced since the languages commissioners’ joint interventions in 2014. The implementation of the Mobilité francophone program in June 2016 is a positive step, as is the leadership shown by the provinces and territories last July when the premiers asked the federal government to raise Francophone immigration rates outside Quebec.
“Without implementing concrete action plans and timelines, we will never be able to achieve the national Francophone immigration target, especially in Ontario. It is therefore crucial for the different levels of government to join efforts and immediately clear the way for the development and implementation of pragmatic and measurable solutions,” added Mr. Boileau.
Demographic projections recently published by Statistics Canada on the ethnocultural and linguistic composition of the Canadian population through 2036 show the importance of attaining minority official-language immigration objectives across the country.
“The Anglophone and Francophone communities of New Brunswick have equal constitutional status. Consequently, the immigration policies and programs of both levels of government must ensure the demographic weight of the Francophone community, which makes up one third of the population, is maintained,” said Ms. d’Entremont. “To do this, increased cooperation between both levels of government is essential.”
The languages ombudsmen believe that the four principles set out in 2014 to guide governments’ actions in terms of immigration are still pertinent:
- Immigration must help maintain, and even increase, the demographic weight of Francophone minority communities in Canada.
- Federal, provincial and territorial immigration policies and programs must be designed and tailored to address Francophone immigrant recruitment, integration, training and retention needs specific to the different contexts of Francophone minority communities across Canada.
- Strong federal-provincial-territorial-community partnerships and long-term strategies are needed to ensure that immigration supports the development and vitality of Francophone minority communities.
- Governments must develop an evaluation and accountability framework to measure progress achieved and ensure attainment of immigration objectives in Francophone minority communities.
The commissioners also took the opportunity provided by this meeting to reiterate that the commitment of all levels of government is essential in this area of shared jurisdiction.
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