Annual Report 2013-2014

Rooting for Francophones

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The importance of accountability mechanisms and an experts group

In his last annual report, the Commissioner expressed a desire to see the government introduce transparent accountability mechanisms for Francophone immigration so that it can report tangible results in achieving the objectives. He repeated that wish over the past year.

As a result, the Ministry recently informed the Commissioner that it was planning to publish its first progress report on its government-wide efforts to reach the 5% target in the spring of 2014. The Ministry is also considering taking advantage of this opportunity to hold consultations with Francophone stakeholders in this issue.

The Commissioner recognizes the various ministerial initiatives in this area, including the establishment of the interministerial working group. Also worth mentioning are the Ministry’s continual efforts to engage representatives of the Francophone community at various events and forums of intergovernmental and community stakeholders.

All these initiatives are steps in the right direction. Nevertheless, the Ontario government currently has no transparent accountability and evaluation mechanism of its own to report its results in relation to the 5% target.

Every year, the federal government publishes statistics on admissions to Canada by province of settlement and language. As the Ministry itself admits, these statistics may present a certain challenge since the federal government uses a very different definition of Francophone and a very different computation method from Ontario.

The Commissioner is having trouble understanding how the government hopes to implement a winning strategy for achieving its 5% target without having the main players – support organizations, municipalities and employers – involved from the outset. Ad hoc consultations, even useful ones, cannot meet the need to work closely and continually with partners that are not only intimately familiar with the field but also dedicated to playing a greater role in building the new Canadian immigration system. Nor can this exercise replace the important work of addressing the needs and priorities of both Francophone newcomers and their host communities.

It is therefore important for the government to take a holistic approach that would involve combining a number of tools and initiatives in support of the effective implementation of a strategy for promoting, recruiting, welcoming, training, integrating and retaining Francophone immigrants. Among these tools, the establishment of a group of experts on Francophone immigration and transparent accountability and annual evaluation mechanisms to make the necessary adjustments based on the results achieved is crucial. The experts group would be tasked with developing a government-wide strategic plan to achieve the 5% target within a reasonable and realistic timeframe. That plan would also take into account the regional realities of popular settlement areas for Francophone newcomers.

Moreover, the establishment of such structures, which contribute to the vitality and development of Ontario’s Francophonie, is not completely unprecedented within the government. Examples include the Provincial Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs, which reports to the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs; the French Language Health Services Advisory Council, which provides advice to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care; and the Permanent Working Group of the Minister of Education. This structure is especially critical since, unlike the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade does not have a division or branch responsible for French-language programs and services.

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