A human story
View the introductory video for this section, a production of Réseau du patrimoine franco-ontarien (RPFO) in partnership with ACFO Ottawa (this video is available in French only – read the transcript of this video)
Since June 2009, Ontario’s Francophone population has benefited from a new Inclusive Definition of Francophone (IDF),13 a first in Canada in response to the Commissioner’s very first recommendation14 to the provincial government. In line with demographic change, the IDF, which applies to exogamous families as well, reflects the diversity of Franco-Ontarians, regardless of their place of birth, ethnic origin and religious affiliation.
Beyond the logical and predictable impact that changing the definition had on the statistics, the IDF most importantly helped the members of the ethnocultural communities see themselves as officially recognized and included as Francophone residents of the province, thereby reinforcing their sense of belonging to the Franco-Ontarian community. And some of them no longer hesitate to advertise that sense of belonging, whether they are in London, Ottawa or Toronto.
However, in his 2011-2012 Annual Report,15 the Commissioner described the findings of an analysis16 of the application of the IDF variables by the Ontario government and its service providers to assess the definition’s impact on government programs and services. The analysis concluded that there was some inconsistency in the use of the new criteria to count the number of Francophones in Ontario. In fact, some institutions did not appear to be making current, systematic use of the IDF two years after its adoption.
Nevertheless, in March 2012, the government developed a communication plan to improve ministries’ awareness of the use of the IDF as a calculation method common to all levels in the design of policies and programs and the provision of French-language services. The government has also stated its intention to convey the same message to designated agencies.
Furthermore, in March 2012, the government announced that it was developing its very first immigration strategy, with the help, notably, of an Expert Roundtable. The final report of the Expert Roundtable on Immigration, entitled Expanding our Routes to Success,17 was welcomed by the Commissioner18 when it was published last October. The report emphasized that it was important for the government to work closely with Francophone communities in particular to design immigration policies and offer programs that meet their needs.
On the basis of the report’s recommendations, additional work by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration — including stakeholder consultations, research, and discussions with interministerial partners (including the Office of Francophone Affairs) — and the Commissioner’s recommendations in his 2011-2012 Annual Report, the Ministry last fall released the government’s strategy, entitled A New Direction: Ontario’s Immigration Strategy. The Strategy sets the target for Francophone immigration at 5% in Ontario. It is a clear objective that, if it is achieved, will certainly contribute to the vitality and growth of the Francophone community. Of course, the Commissioner salutes the Ontario government for its leadership in this regard and welcomes the good news.
However, in his 2011-2012 Annual Report, the Commissioner recommended that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration set up an advisory committee to guide the Ministry’s efforts related to the Francophone immigration file and use a consultative and interministerial approach to develop a strategy for welcoming Francophone newcomers, providing them with language training and integrating them into the labour market.
Nevertheless, the Ministry stated that it did not plan to create a separate Francophone advisory committee, focusing instead on the creation of an annual Ministers’ Forum on immigration that will publish a report each year. In the Commissioner’s view, the Ministry must, at least, establish transparent accountability mechanisms for Francophone immigration so that it can report tangible results in achieving the objectives set in the annual report produced by the Ministers’ Forum. This is a file that the Commissioner intends to monitor closely.