Annual Report 2017-2018

Looking ahead, getting ready

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8. A concerted strategy

There are 622,415 Francophones in Ontario, or 4.7% of the total population – Fifteen percent of them are from immigration, and that figure will continue to rise until 2028. Increasing the Francophone immigration rate in Ontario is therefore essential to maintaining the community’s demographic weigh in the province. The former Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration set a 5% Francophone immigration goal in 2012. However in 2016, the rate was 2.4%, well under the government’s objective.

This reality requires that the government of Ontario act immediately. Ontario is in a position to become a leader, on the national level, on the issue of Francophone immigration. It co-chaired the Entrée express work group, the federal program to better support the selection of Francophone candidates, as well as successfully adding an Appendix on Francophone immigration to the Canada-Ontario Agreement in June 2017. It is understood that co-operation between all levels of government is critical in this matter.

Other important measures put in place by Ontario that should have an impact on increasing francophone immigration include Destination Ontario, a Morocco-based program which aims to attract Francophone candidates, the establishment of the Université de l’Ontario français and the Travailleurs qualifiés francophones initiative under the Ontario Immigration Nominee Program.

To help Francophone immigrants get established, the Ontario government must properly fund settlement community partners so that newly arrived Francophone immigrants have access to a complete range of information and services. Integration of these individuals must also be strengthened. For example, one major obstacle to full and successful integration is the lack of recognition of foreign professional credentials and the limited availability of triage training programs for Francophones. Finally, the government and other key stakeholders must create conditions conclusive to fostering permanent retention.

Numerous measures have been put into place to allow Ontario to reach its 5% goal in the next decade, and many opportunities are arising for the province. However, there doesn’t seem to be a strong central idea – a planned and concerted policy – connecting these measures. The main result of such a concerted policy would be to mobilize all stakeholders and generate useful discussions among the players on the most important challenges on the ground.

Ontario must therefore develop an interministerial plan to clearly define and coordinate the roles of the various provincial ministries involved with Francophone immigration, and set goals for its relationship with the federal government. The Advisory Committee on Francophone Immigration, because of its interministerial scope described previously, could be mandated with the preparation of such a strategy. To develop it, the former Ministry could study the recommendations of the Group of Experts as well as the annual reports of the French Language Services Commissioner and the Livre blanc of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario. Representatives of the Franco- Ontarian community, especially those working in the field of immigration, should be included in this process.

In short, the province already has many assets: the large reception centres for newcomers, a central position, a very rich employment market and a great diversity of host communities. It also benefits from its communication infrastructures with and its geographical proximity to the main French-speaking region in North America, i.e., Quebec.62 Ontario is also at the heart of Francophone immigration mobility and must seize the opportunities that come with it.

This broad portrait of Francophone immigration opens one’s eyes to today’s issues in which the government has the opportunity to intervene by 2028. In this section, the Commissioner makes seven recommendations that suggest ways to encourage or even accelerate Francophone immigration to Ontario.

This can certainly begin with Ontario’s participation in the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) to transform the image of French in Ontario (from a minority language to a major international language) and to develop or enrich collaborations with countries with a large Francophone population. According to the OIF’s estimate, there will be approximately 700 million Francophones in the world by 2050 and about 85% of them will be in Africa.63

In this regard, the Commissioner encourages the Ontario government to exert its role as a leader in this organization and the Francophonie authorities so that they adopt a mobility policy in the Francophonie (immigration, studies, tourism).

Last June’s election was followed by a cabinet shuffle in which some ministries found themselves merged and others were abolished. This is the case with the former Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, whose various divisions were assigned to three different ministries. For example, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services is now responsible for citizenship and immigration development policy, including newcomer and refugee resettlement. The Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade is now responsible for the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program while the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is responsible for immigration training programs.

Similarly, the Commissioner hopes that existing initiatives can be reshaped to attract more Francophone immigrants.


The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade:

  1. explicitly name the initiative “Destination Ontario français” to put the emphasis on the francophone component;
  2. make “Destination Ontario français” a permanent initiative;
  3. include francophone organizations with knowledge of the issues in the Ontario delegation; and
  4. consider current trends in terms of promising pools and networks for the recruitment of francophone immigrants in order to accurately target promotional activities, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

If Francophone communities wish to receive more immigrants in the near future, public policies and effective initiatives must facilitate their adaptation to the local employment market. This is urgent. To do so, it is important to understand the areas of employment in which immigrants face the greatest challenges relating to the recognition of degrees and diplomas. It would also be relevant to determine the location of study of the immigrants facing the biggest challenges. The Commissioner therefore recommends that the Ministry conduct a study to better understand the impact of the location of study of Francophone newcomers on obtaining recognition of international credentials.


The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities:

  1. commission a study to better understand the challenges that french-speaking immigrants face with regard to their integration into the job market and the potential impact of location of their studies on getting credential recognition;
  2. seize the opportunity offered by the creation of the “Université de l’Ontario français” in Toronto to establish new credential assessment services in french recognizing the education and work experience of immigrants, particularly through bridging courses developed in collaboration with professional associations.

In order to better welcome Francophone immigrants, the Commissioner would like to see an easing of the language criteria. Funding of organizations must also be revisited to address the services offered to these new Francophone immigrants.


The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade:

  1. review the criteria of the Ontario Express Entry french-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream to remove the requirement for french-speaking candidates to speak English by 2019-2020. However, this should be accompanied by the communication of clear and accurate information for these candidates regarding the linguistic reality of Ontario and the language courses available;
  2. give additional points to french-speaking candidates with children who want to immigrate to Ontario with their family.


The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services:

  1. review the funding formula for organizations that provide services so that it better reflects the reality of minority-language organizations and decrease the weight given to the number of clients served;
  2. commission a study in 2018-2019 to analyze the supply of reception, settlement and integration services offered in french by francophone organizations throughout the province, and evaluate where the needs and the gaps are. Such a study is essential to better inform prospective immigrants and clarify what is being offered.


The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Government and Consumer Services, together with the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and stakeholder organizations in the francophone community, develop, in 2018-2019, a “Guide for the francophone immigrant” to be included in a welcome kit given to all newcomers coming to Service Ontario to get a health card or driver’s license.

Finally, on the basis of these principles of planning and coordination, the Commissioner also recommends that the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services establish an administrative unit for Francophone Immigration within the Ministry in order to give itself the means to achieve its goals. The Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care and Education are examples. By working exclusively on the Francophone immigration file, staff assigned to this unit could ensure a follow-up of the Advisory Committee’s recommendations and implementation of a future Francophone immigration strategy. They could also be responsible for systematically evaluating the Ministry’s policies and programs through a Francophone lens. This would be a major innovation on this file. This new unit would focus on reassigning existing resources by bringing together all employees working on Francophone immigration to reach the 5% target.


The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services:

  1. develop, by the end of March 2019, an effective strategy on francophone Immigration for the promotion, recruitment, selection, settlement, integration, training and retention, including goals, specific actions and deadlines for each of these elements;
  2. include in this strategy a timetable for achieving and maintaining the 5% goal; and
  3. create within its Ministry an administrative unit for francophone immigration.

  1. Belkhodja, Chedly and Traisnel, Christophe, op. cit.
  2. For more detail, see (accessed in March 2018).

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