Annual Report 2017-2018

Looking ahead, getting ready

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2. Linguistic continuity deficit

The lack of the transmission of the french language to children who come from families where at least one parent is francophone explains an important aspect of the demographic evolution of franco-Ontarians.

In Canada, the transmission rate of the French language within couples where only one partner is Francophone (exogamous families) is 31%, while it is 91% in families where both partners share French as a first language (endogamous families). This finding is linked to a growing decrease in the number of endogamous families.

In 2016, less than a third (30.5%) of Francophone families were endogamous, which represents a decrease compared to 2011 and 2006, where that proportion was 31.7% and 33.3%,5 respectively. The only region that saw an increase in the proportion of endogamous families between 2006 and 2016 was Central Ontario. Those regions where exogamy is most common are the Northwest (85.1%), Southwest (84.9%) and Centre (79.8%). On the other hand, regions where exogamy is least common are the Northeast (58.4%) and the East (60.4%).6 By 2028, exogamy should become more common in most parts of Ontario. Given the attraction to English, most of these linguistic transfers will benefit the English-speaking majority.

Table 1
Linguistic Transfer Rates of Francophones to English – 2016 Census
Region Francophone non-immigrant Francophone immigrant
Ontario 46.8% 37.3%
Centre (without Toronto) 72.7% 52.0%
Toronto CMA 64.0% 42.2%
East 34.3% 22.4%
Northeast 42.0% 37.8%
Northwest 68.4% 47.1%
Southwest 77.0% 47.1%

A 2011 survey of households revealed that outside of Quebec, 41% of the population whose first language was French named English as the language they spoke most at home.7 In 2016, that proportion was 45.9% for Ontario. However, Table 1 shows that linguistic transfers to English are less frequent with Francophone immigrants. Similarly, sections of the census with a larger Francophone density, such as Ottawa, Prescott-Russell, Nipissing, Sudbury or Cochrane, tend to speak French at home.

Trends related to the linguistic mobility of a population involve many factors, some of which are cultural, such as the pull exerted by the English language, or the scope, visibility and equal quality of the French-language education continuum. In every case, these trends weigh heavily, and there is a high probability that this linguistic mobility toward English will continue or even increase until 2028.

Chart 3

  1. Data obtained from the Office of Francophone Affairs in January 2018. Profile of the Francophone Population in Ontario – 2016. p.14.
  2. Morency Jean-Dominique, Éric Caron-Malenfant and Samuel Macisaa, Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections for Canada and its Regions, 2011 to 2036 by the Demosim Team, Statistics Canada, 2017, p. 143.
  3. Mireille Vézina and René Houle, “La transmission de la langue française au sein des familles exogames et endogames francophones au Canada”, Cahiers québécois de démographie. 43 (2), 2014, p 399-437.

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