Demographic Projections of Ontario’s Francophonie in 2028
Part of the Commissioner’s role is to monitor demographic evolutions of the Francophone population in Ontario. He must also ensure that the French services offered by the government and all organizations working on its behalf, fulfill the needs of the French and Francophile populations and that they are adjusted according to the many factors that must be considered. Demographics and geography are two concrete examples.
This year, the Commissioner is focusing on a projection into the future of Ontario’s Francophonie. While caution must be exercised, demographic projections of a population are an imperfect endeavour that does not aim to predict what will happen, but rather to imagine its demographic future based on targeted hypotheses and scenarios.
At present, the projected situation is alarming.
In all the scenarios presented below, the proportion of Francophones would fall, settling somewhere between 3.9% and 4.0%. This would represent a decline from the 4.7% proportion of Francophones in Ontario observed in 2016, and a decline from 4.8% observed in 2011. These levels figure in the best of scenarios, where massive immigration is the answer to the decrease in the prospective demographic weight of Francophones. Francophone immigration will therefore only have a limited impact. This is without considering that the number of exogamous families in Ontario will also increase.
It is common for governments to use demographic projections in order to plan more efficiently the services to be developed, sectors to be explored or policies to be prioritized. Demographic projection for the Francophone communities of Ontario remains a delicate practice for the communities themselves, as their demographic weight has been diminishing since the 1970s, even though their population has been growing in terms of absolute numbers.
However, starting with the exercise carried out as a part of this report, it is important to note that the Ministry of Finance of Ontario and Statistics Canada do not systematically offer linguistic projections for the Francophones of Ontario. The data, as well as the ideas that follow, are a unique opportunity for Franco-Ontarians to get a glimpse of the next ten years.
The proposed projections have been developed using data from the 2016 Census. Annual growth rates were first calculated up to 2028 and were applied to the 2016 Census for the main age groups.1 Afterwards, annual growth rates for each region were calculated using trends from past censuses.2 The data and projection assumptions of the Ontario Ministry of Finance,3 which define and rely on those of Statistics Canada, also served as a basis for analysis, especially when it came to counting the entire population of Ontario as well as immigrants.4 Five scenarios have been developed. The details can be found in Appendix 1.
- 1. Decrease in the weight of Francophones
- 2. Linguistic continuity deficit
- 3. Aging population
- 4. Immigration as a driver for the Francophonie
- 5. Schools, centers of settlement
- The works of Statistics Canada (Houle, René and Jean-Pierre Corbeil (January 2017), Projections linguistiques pour le Canada, 2011 à 2036, Statistique Canada, 140 p.) started with the 2011 National Household Survey. Since that survey underestimates the number of Francophones, it seems preferable to keep, from the Statistics Canada model, only the annual growth rates of Francophones (DIF) divided by major age groups to apply to the 2016 Census data.
- First, French-speaking growth rates by region between 2011 and 2016 were identified. Then, the proportions of this growth were retained to be cross-referenced against Statistics Canada’s projection data. Since recent census trends with respect to the age groups reveal similar numbers (less than a 1% variation) to those presented in the Statistics Canada reference scenario, it is reasonable to apply the same hypothesis for regions.
- Ministry of Finance of Ontario (spring 2017). Ontario Population Projections Update, 2016–2041. Based on the 2011 Census.
- According to the Statistics Canada definition, “Immigrants” includes persons who are, or were, landed immigrants or permanent residents. Immigrants who have obtained Canadian citizenship by naturalization fall into this category. In the 2016 Census of Population, “Immigrants” includes immigrants who arrived in Canada on or before May 10, 2016.