by Yamina Tsalamlal of iPolitics.ca
A Senate committee report says the government needs to do more to attract francophone immigrants to communities outside of Quebec if it hopes to meet its own targets.
The report, which was released Tuesday by the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages, warns that the government risks falling short of its goal of having 4.4 per cent of all francophone immigrants settle outside Quebec.
The study was commissioned in 2013 as the government was introducing the new measures to focus on economic immigrants. The same year, it also set the 4.4-per-cent target. This has not yet been met and the government now hopes to achieve this by 2018.
Senator Claudette Tardif, who chairs the committee, said she is concerned that the government will fall short.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]“Government needs to take targeted positive measures to make sure it meets its immigration target and that it provides the opportunity for official minority language communities to take full advantage of immigration.”[/quote]
“The important point is no one is asking for policy changes, no one is asking for exceptions be made in any way, I think it’s just recognizing that across Canada … if we’re only bringing in 2 per cent or even less francophone immigration, this does not bode well for the vitality of French language in minority communities,” Tardif said.
She adds that the existing target is pretty low and that she hopes to see the number raised.
The report made nine recommendations, including the request for a national strategy to develop minority language communities through immigration and that a francophone component be included in the new Express Entry system, which takes effect January 1, 2015.
Tardif says a national strategy is the only way to make the target because as it stands the government isn’t taking proactive steps to attract francophone immigrants. She says she isn’t sure what the plan would entail but it would include a co-ordinated effort among the federal government, the provinces and territories and municipalities.
“Government needs to take targeted positive measures to make sure it meets its immigration target and that it provides the opportunity for official minority language communities to take full advantage of immigration.”
This plan could be a combination of making employers aware of bilingual applicants and more recruitment in French-speaking countries. She also says it’s important to consult with French language community organizations.
Suzanne Bossé, executive director of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, which was consulted for the study, agrees that a co-ordinated effort is necessary for the complex issue of immigration that includes many stakeholders. She says the strategy has to range from recruitment to employment to settlement and integration.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”[…]if we’re only bringing in 2 per cent or even less francophone immigration, this does not bode well for the vitality of French language in minority communities,”[/quote]
She says she is disappointed that groups like hers weren’t consulted during the making of the express entry database.
“There’s a major issue here because the express entry has been presented by the federal government as the tool that will make all the difference,” but it is seriously lacking she adds.
But the department of Citizenship and Immigration, which started consultations in September with francophone community groups, says it is looking after the francophone community.
“As part of the consultations with stakeholders, CIC is exploring how the Express Entry system could help bring more francophone immigrants to Canada,” Nancy Caron, spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said in an email.
Bossé says that the FCPC is finally meeting with the department of citizenship and immigration but it’s a little too late as the database will roll out without the input of French-speaking minority communities. She says they have been trying for two years to meet with CIC.
“The minister failed to see the opportunity to include the francophone lens,” Bossé says.
Re-published with permission.