In his 2017-2018 annual report, the Commissioner has sought to provide the government and the community with three sample scenarios155 of demographic projections for Francophones in Ontario. These scenarios are based on ideal demographic growth, assuming that Francophones will still comprise 4.7% of Ontario’s population in 2028.
The likelihood of these scenarios being fully realized in the next ten years, however, is fairly small. Even under favourable circumstances, these projections would entail complete linguistic continuity and an annual proportion of Francophone immigrants at least equivalent to that of Anglophones, among other factors. In order to maintain levels at 4.7%, the Francophone population would therefore need to catch up significantly from the standpoint of migratory density.
Ontario is also still lacking an ambitious core action plan accurately setting out the government’s own roadmap – a response, as it were, to the federal Action Plan for Official Languages. The Commissioner believes that the current population decline would be at least partially restrained if all of the recommendations set out in the annual report were adopted. The government would adopt a coordinated approach by encompassing all of these recommendations.
The Commissioner therefore recommends that the Government of Ontario adopt an Action plan on the development of Francophone communities and the promotion of the French language in Ontario – an undoubtedly ambitious project that would, nonetheless, provide a framework for the government’s policies and programs. This would also provide an overview of all actions, indicating where a collective orientation is important, while avoiding the pitfalls of government silos.
The Commissioner recommends that the Minister Responsible for francophone Affairs work with Cabinet colleagues to initiate the process, including consultations, to provide the Ontario government with an Action plan on the development of francophone communities and the promotion of the french language in Ontario for 2020-2025 that includes measurable objectives, along with performance indicators.
By offering a lucid view through this annual report, the Commissioner seeks primarily to mobilize public decision- makers to adopt aggressive measures. Another objective is to equip and engage Francophone communities to take equally strong collective action.
To this end, the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner will host a bilingual symposium this fall, to debate the major elements of this annual report. We now extend an invitation to the Government of Ontario to participate in a series of discussions on the projections set out in this report.
- See Appendix 7 for the full table of scenarios.