Annual Report 2017-2018

Looking ahead, getting ready

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3. Governance

Federal-provincial agreement

In the last few years, Ontario has been actively working on its bilateral relationships with the federal government. It co-chaired with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) the Express Entry Working Group that led to improvements in supporting Francophone candidates.32 In 2017, the province also signed a new Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement to which an annex on French-speaking immigrants was added in 2018. The annex establishes joint priorities and common objectives in order to reach respective goals. The annex supports greater collaboration on immigration selection policies and better alignment of the settlement services offered by the two levels of government.

Without a doubt, Ontario can gain from the numerous initiatives developed by the federal government. Being subject to the obligations contained in Official Languages Act, the IRCC must adopt positive measures to encourage the vitality of minority official-languages communities. The Mobilité francophone33 program is an example of such an initiative.

One of the tools for the province to recruit new immigrants is the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), which allows Ontario to nominate for permanent residence immigrants that meet the province’s labour market needs. The nominated candidates may then apply for permanent residence directly to the IRCC, which makes the final decision.

Therefore, in order to have greater impact on Francophone immigration, the OINP should be expanded. Currently Ontario only has the opportunity to nominate up to 6,600 individuals per annum. This is a small percentage of the more than 110,000 immigrants who come to Ontario on an annual basis. The Ministry should continue to advocate with the federal government for an expansion to the OINP.

Despite that program, it is still IRCC that chooses the majority of immigrants who settle in Ontario.34 In 2017, Ontario received an allocation of 6,000 designations under the OINP. That number was 5,500 in 2016, 5,200 in 2015, 2,500 in 2014 and 1,300 in 2013.35

This led then Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to affirm that Ontario could never reach its goal of Francophone immigration “if the federal government doesn’t reach its own.”36 On the other hand, it is in the federal government’s interest that Ontario reach its goal since, outside of Quebec, it is in that province that most Francophone immigrants settle. Ontario’s success would have an impact on meeting the national objective, and vice-versa. As per a recommendation of the Group of Experts on Francophone immigration, Ontario has everything to gain by encouraging the federal government to create specific areas for Francophone immigration in its programs.

It is true that the number of provincial nominees has increased over the last few years. However, those figures are still marginal in comparison with the total number of immigrants who come to Ontario each year. Moreover, the OINP remains the principal immigrant selection tool used by the province, which also relies on this pool to increase the number of Francophone immigrants who settle in Ontario. Consequently, the number of provincial nominees needs to be revised upward in order to meet one of the OINP’s objectives, which is to support the development of official-language minority communities and regional development.

One of the objectives in Annex C of the recently published Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement is, in fact, to “identify opportunities for increasing the number of French-speaking immigrants coming to Canada, and in particular to Ontario, in order to achieve the Parties’ respective targets.”


The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, in conjunction with the federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, substantially increase the number of candidates that the province can nominate under the Ontario Immigrant nominee Program so that the Program can achieve its objectives and truly contribute to the development and vitality of Ontario’s francophone communities in the coming decade.

Ontario’s Leadership

By co-chairing numerous initiatives with IRCC, including the Ad Hoc Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Francophone Immigration, Ontario is taking on a leadership role. Moreover, it is in Toronto that the second joint forum between federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers responsible for immigration and ministers responsible for the Canadian Francophonie was held on March 2, 2018. During that event, the FPT Action Plan for Increasing Francophone Immigration Outside of Quebec was launched.37

The context is favourable for Ontario to position itself as a leader on this issue at the national level. In addition, these discussion forums are conducive to forging links with other provinces that make Francophone immigration a priority issue, as well as to sharing good practices.

Emphasizing interdepartmental collaboration

Close collaboration between the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade is essential. One example of such an initiative is the delivery by OFA of the Francophone Lens training to MCI employees, to help staff see from a Francophone perspective when implementing policies and programs, as was recommended for public service employees in the Commissioner’s previous annual report.

In response to the problem of ministries “working in silos” and the risk of overlaps (or gaps) that comes with it, the Government of Ontario established an Advisory Committee on Francophone Immigration in September 2017.38 The committee’s mandate is to advise the Ministry on the 13 recommendations of the Group of Experts. Co-chaired by the deputy ministers of former Citizenship and Immigration and of Francophone Affairs, it brings together IRCC’s representatives, community stakeholders and representatives of numerous ministries such as Education, Municipal Affairs, and Training, Colleges and Universities. The proliferation of such initiatives clearly illustrates the public will to fully address the issue of Francophone immigration from a decidedly collaborative and participative perspective.

Beyond government players

In addition to government, many players are involved in the matter of immigration. Community organizations receive funding to offer welcoming, settlement and integration services. Impressions emerge from a recent map of Francophone immigration in the Atlantic that could be relevant for Ontario. The players differ greatly depending on their perspective (federal, provincial, municipal/local, community or from the immigrants themselves), their mission (public, community, private, etc.), their linguistic mandate, their position within the immigration continuum, (public decision-makers, networks, service providers), their area of intervention (immigration, health, etc.), their target clientele, and the type of intervention (public/private, formal/informal, occasional/regular, etc.). In this context, a coordinating role becomes crucial to avoid redundancies, circulate “success stories” and avoid repeating mistakes or “horror stories”.39

These findings highlight the potentially strategic role of Ontario’s Francophone immigration networks. Networks, funded by the federal government, identify the needs and priorities of their respective regions. These networks strengthen cooperation between community organizations, the private sector, public institutions and civil society.40 Ontario is the only province with three Francophone immigration networks, one for the North, one for the Central Southwest and one for the Eastern part of the province.

  1. For further details : (page accessed in March 2018).
  2. For more details, see (accessed in March 2018).
  3. For more details, see (accessed in March 2018).
  4. Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, 2018 Progress Report – Our Foundation for Tomorrow: Ontario’s Immigration Strategy. Toronto, 2017, p. 13.
  5. For more details, see (accessed in March 2018).
  6. For more details, see (accessed in March 2018).
  7. For more details, see (accessed in March 2018).
  8. Traisnel, C. and Guignard Noël, J., Immigration francophone en Acadie de l’Atlantique : cartographie des lieux de l’immigration, Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities, 2017, p.80-86.
  9. Paquet,M. and Andrew,C., Les réseaux de soutien à l’immigration francophone de l’Ontario : résultats, adaptations et points de tension d’une expérience de gouvernance communautaire, In L. Cardinal and É. Forgues (dir.), Gouvernance communautaire et innovations au sein de la francophonie néobrunswickoise et ontarienne, Presses de l’Université Laval, Quebec, p. 69-96.

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