Le français sera-t-il bientôt une langue parmi d’autres en Ontario ?

Likely given immigration patterns:

Les derniers chiffres du recensement 2021 ont de quoi faire craindre la minorisation accentuée de la communauté francophone en Ontario. Bien que le nombre de francophones demeure relativement stable, la proportion de francophones (Première langue officielle parlée), par rapport à la population générale, ne fait que baisser, passant de 3,8 % en 2016 à 3,4 % en 2021 — ce qui représente la plus forte baisse depuis 2001.

À cet effet, déjà, plusieurs signes montrent une reconfiguration du régime linguistique canadien. Pendant que l’on tergiverse encore sur les nécessités du renforcement du français au sein de la Loi sur les langues officielles, aucune politique conséquente n’est mise en place en immigration.

On peine toujours autant à délivrer les visas aux étudiants francophones intéressés à venir séjourner au pays. Aucune mesure musclée ne vient encadrer et promouvoir l’immigration francophone à l’extérieur du Québec. Aucun plan n’est réalisé pour attirer ces derniers, comme en témoignent les statistiques sur la provenance des nouveaux immigrants (2016-2021).

Le dernier recensement nous apprend que 80,6 % des immigrants « choisissent » l’anglais comme première langue officielle parlée. Mais jusqu’à quel point ce choix n’est-il pas prévisible lorsqu’on constate qu’aucun effort n’a été consenti par le gouvernement pour atteindre le quart du seuil minimal d’immigration francophone internationale souhaité par la Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA) et plusieurs autres acteurs du monde francophone au Canada ? Cette baisse importante du prorata de francophones par rapport à la population générale en Ontario doit être analysée pour ce qu’elle est : le résultat d’une politique ratée des instances fédérale et provinciale.

Si le recensement montre bien que les francophones vieillissent et que c’est là un des facteurs explicatifs de la baisse de leur poids démographique au Canada, cette tendance n’est pourtant pas nouvelle. Elle est observable depuis des décennies, et le plan du ministre Dion (2003) cherchait déjà à en contrer les effets.

Malheureusement, les dernières données montrent au contraire que l’attractivité du français est en perte de vitesse partout au Canada. Là où cette langue est minoritaire, le français tend de plus en plus à n’être perçu que comme une langue de communication, un outil, et de moins en moins comme un vecteur culturel, en Ontario notamment.

S’il fallait encore s’en convaincre, on peut percevoir dans les résultats de ce recensement la sortie du régime de dualité linguistique traditionnelle (anglais-français) et l’entrée de plain-pied dans un régime pluraliste où le français (hors Québec) semble de plus en plus qu’une langue parmi d’autres.

Seulement 1,3 % des ménages ontariens parlent régulièrement le français à la maison ; seulement 1,9 % parlent le français et l’anglais à égalité. Et 0,1 % des ménages parlent régulièrement le français et une langue tierce, contre 18,8 % l’anglais et une langue tierce. Un lent mais profond glissement s’opère du français vers l’anglais et les langues tierces (qui représentent désormais 8 % des langues parlées régulièrement au foyer).

La langue française et ses cultures francophones semblent ainsi de plus en plus déliées l’une de l’autre et ont de plus en plus de mal à s’incarner dans des milieux concrets. Cela a pour effet de fragiliser la transmission du français et la force de ses institutions francophones, notamment scolaires (de la petite enfance à l’Université). Faut-il rappeler le saccage du fait français à l’Université Laurentienne ?

Ces statistiques ne reflètent-elles pas la place véritable que l’on souhaite donner au français dans l’espace canadien ? Une place malheureusement de plus en plus symbolique qui témoigne, d’une part, des exigences d’un marché du travail anglo-dominant et, de l’autre, du manque de volonté politique du gouvernement fédéral à assurer la pérennité et le développement des communautés francophones au pays. Le temps est désormais aux solutions audacieuses.

Source: Le français sera-t-il bienitôt une langue parmi d’autres en Ontario ?

Yakabuski: Official bilingualism is officially dead in Canada

Overly dramatic header but as we see in initial reactions in Quebec, recent action/inaction by the federal government, and the ever increasing gap between immigration to English Canada compared to Quebec, the trendline is not encouraging:

Statistics Canada surely did not time the release of language data from the 2021 Census to coincide with the launch of an election campaign in Quebec. But its publication of findings that confirm the decline of French within the province and across Canada are sure to light a fuse on the campaign trail as Premier François Legault calls for Ottawa to cede more powers to Quebec.

Neither did the federal agency likely consider the optics of releasing its report on the heels of the Aug. 15 Fête nationale de l’Acadie, the annual celebration of francophones in Atlantic Canada that marks the 1755 expulsion of thousands of their ancestors from the region by the British. Many ended up in Louisiana, where the French-language is today spoken by only a tiny minority of their descendants.

In May, as he revealed plans to seek full control over immigration policy if his Coalition Avenir Québec wins the Oct. 3 election, Mr. Legault warned that Quebec runs the risk of becoming another Louisiana without the ability to choose its own immigrants, including those who come to Quebec through the federal family reunification program. “It is a question of survival for our nation,” he said then.

Statistics Canada’s Wednesday report, showing that more newcomers to Quebec are using English as their first official language, will only serve to buttress Mr. Legault’s argument. The proportion of Quebeckers who primarily spoke English rose to 13 per cent in 2021 from 12 per cent in 2016, topping the one-million mark for the first time. The share who spoke predominantly French at home fell to 77.5 per cent from 79 per cent, despite extensive government efforts to “francize” new immigrants.

More than 70 per cent of Quebeckers who speak English as their first official language live on the Island of Montreal or in the suburban Montérégie region. The concentration of English speakers in and around the Quebec metropolis has long created linguistic tensions. Protecting Montreal’s “French face” is seen as imperative by most francophone Quebeckers, but many allophone newcomers to the city still gravitate toward English, sometimes even after attending French public schools.

And as Montreal goes, many fear, so goes the province. Which is why Bill 96 – the law adopted by Mr. Legault’s government in June that caps enrolment in English-language junior colleges among dozens of other measures aimed at protecting French – is seen by many francophones as a strict minimum.

Across Canada, French has been on the decline for decades despite Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s government adoption of the Official Languages Act in 1969. In 1971, French was the first official language spoken by 27.2 per cent of Canadians. By 2016, the proportion had declined to 22.2 per cent. In 2021, it fell again to 21.4 per cent. Where will it stand in 2026? You don’t need a PhD to figure it out.

The dream of a bilingual Canada d’un océan à l’autre may never have been more than that. But the reduction of French to folkloric status everywhere outside Quebec and in pockets of New Brunswick and Northern Ontario is the writing on the wall. Between 2016 and 2021, the proportion of the population speaking French at home declined in every region of the country except Yukon, where it rose to 2.6 per cent from 2.4 per cent. In New Brunswick, Canada’s only officially bilingual province, the share speaking French at home fell to 26.4 per cent from 28 per cent.

It may be fashionable among English-Canadian elites to enrol their kids in French immersion classes. But anemic rates of bilingualism hors Quebec and New Brunswick speak for themselves. Outside Quebec, Canadians who claimed an ability to conduct a conversation in both official languages dropped to 9.5 per cent from 9.8 per cent and down from a peak of 10.1 per cent two decades ago.

Even the federal public service, which once aspired to set an example, no longer prioritizes Canada’s official languages equally. In May, a Radio-Canada report showed that francophones are underrepresented in the upper echelons of the federal bureaucracy. Now, there is a push to waive French-English bilingualism requirements if applicants speak an Indigenous language or aspire to.

Removing barriers to career advancement faced by Indigenous people in Canada is a legitimate objective. But francophones argue it should not mean the diminution of the status of French within the public service. They worry that the appointment of Mary Simon as Governor-General, despite her inability to speak French, paves the way for more such nominations. They are not wrong to worry.

The latest census figures will exacerbate feelings of linguistic insecurity among francophone Quebeckers in particular. There will be consequences. We may witness a few of them on the campaign trail.

Source: Official bilingualism is officially dead in Canada

StatsCan: While English and French are still the main languages spoken in Canada, the country’s linguistic diversity continues to grow

Of note, if not unexpected given immigration impact:

English is the first official language spoken by just over three in four Canadians. This proportion increased from 74.8% in 2016 to 75.5% in 2021.

French is the first official language spoken by an increasing number of Canadians, but the proportion fell from 22.2% in 2016 to 21.4% in 2021.

From 2016 to 2021, the number of Canadians who spoke predominantly French at home rose in Quebec, British Columbia and Yukon, but decreased in the other provinces and territories.

The proportion of Canadians who spoke predominantly French at home decreased in all the provinces and territories, except Yukon.

For the first time in the census, the number of people in Quebec whose first official language spoken is English topped 1 million and their proportion of the population rose from 12.0% in 2016 to 13.0% in 2021. Moreover, 7 in 10 English speakers lived on Montréal Island or in Montérégie. 

The proportion of bilingual English-French Canadians (18.0%) remained virtually unchanged from 2016. From 2016 to 2021, the increase in the bilingualism rate in Quebec (from 44.5% to 46.4%) offset the decrease observed outside Quebec (from 9.8% to 9.5%). 

In Canada, 4 in 10 people could conduct a conversation in more than one language. This proportion rose from 39.0% in 2016 to 41.2% in 2021. In addition, 1 in 11 could speak three or more languages. 

In 2021, one in four Canadians had at least one mother tongue other than English or French, and one in eight Canadians spoke predominantly a language other than English or French at home—both the highest proportions on record.

The number of Canadians who spoke predominantly a South Asian language such as Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi or Malayalam at home grew significantly from 2016 to 2021, an increase fuelled by immigration. In fact, the growth rate of the population speaking one of these languages was at least eight times larger than that of the overall Canadian population during this period.

In contrast, there was a decline in the number of Canadians who spoke predominantly certain European languages at home, such as Italian, Polish and Greek.

Aside from English and French, Mandarin and Punjabi were the country’s most widely spoken languages. In 2021, more than half a million Canadians spoke predominantly Mandarin at home and more than half a million spoke Punjabi.

Among Canadians whose mother tongue is neither English nor French, 7 in 10 spoke an official language at home at least on a regular basis. 

In 2021, 189,000 people reported having at least one Indigenous mother tongue and 183,000 reported speaking an Indigenous language at home at least on a regular basis. Cree languages and Inuktitut are the main Indigenous languages spoken in Canada.

Among individuals with an Indigenous mother tongue, four out of five spoke that language at home at least on a regular basis, and half spoke it predominantly.

Source: While English and French are still the main languages spoken in Canada, the country’s linguistic diversity continues to grow

Ottawa should offer Indigenous-language training, exemptions to public servants, memo says

Easier to see from a service perspective in certain localities where numbers warrant but does pose significant operational challenges. The risk of an exemption, of course, is that it may provoke further requests for exemptions:

Senior civil servants explored offering Indigenous-language training to federal employees and possible exemptions to those who already speak one from requiring fluency in both English and French, newly released documents show.

Deputy ministers from several departments discussed the issue last fall.

A memo, released to The Canadian Press under federal access-to-information laws, flagged a “growing tension” between official-language requirements and Indigenous languages.

Under Canada’s Official Languages Act, federal institutions must offer working environments for employees to communicate in both French and English, and offer services to Canadians in either language.

As such, communicating in both is expected for senior executives and there are a number of public-service jobs where bilingualism is mandatory. There is room, however, for an employee to take classes and learn French or English as a second language.

The memo issued last fall said a working group was held about making changes to the official-language requirements. It said some Indigenous public servants belonging to a network of around 400 who work for the federal government asserted the need for a “blanket exemption.”

“My own personal view is there are opportunities for exemption – if the individual speaks an Indigenous language,” Gina Wilson, a deputy minister who champions the needs of federal Indigenous public servants, wrote in an e-mail to colleagues last November.

“Our GG [Governor-General] is a good example.”

Inuk leader Mary Simon’s appointment in 2021 sparked a discussion – and some controversy – over bilingualism in Canada’s highest offices, given how Ms. Simon, the first Indigenous person named as Governor-General, spoke English and Inuktitut, but not French.

Ms. Simon, who was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, said she attended a federal day school and wasn’t able to learn French.

She committed to doing so after her appointment and has been taking lessons, delivering some French remarks in public speeches.

Commissioner of official languages Raymond Théberge said more than 1,000 complaints about Ms. Simon’s lack of French were lodged with his office after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named her to the role.

Language training has been identified as one of the issues preventing Indigenous employees in the federal public service from advancing in their careers.

A report authored by public servants around the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary recommended those who are Indigenous be exempt from official-language requirements and instead be provided with chances to learn the language of their community.

It’s unclear if Ottawa plans to move ahead on changes to language requirements, training or exemptions.

A spokeswoman for Crown-Indigenous-Relations and Northern Affairs Canada said both that ministry and Indigenous Services Canada “have no plans to offer departmentwide Indigenous language training,” noting employees have offered workshops in the past.

It said Indigenous employees are encouraged to talk to their managers about language training.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, an anglophone who speaks French and is learning Mohawk, said in an interview that the idea of an exemption is a sensitive issue.

“Inevitably, when you have to make one of those decisions, it is more often than not, and almost always, at the expense of jettisoning French,” said Mr. Miller, who represents a riding in Montreal.

“I don’t think that’s something that most people would find palatable … there are resources to learn it and I think there is the availability to do so.”

In their talks last fall, senior officials proposed ways to address concerns from Indigenous public servants about languages.

Ideas included providing more time to learn a second language and even offering Indigenous-language training, including to non-Indigenous public servants, as a show of reconciliation.

“I certainly recall during my French classes having this nagging thought in the back of my mind that I would be so much more open to this if I had the opportunity to be given training in my own Algonquin language,” Ms. Wilson wrote in her e-mail.

“I had a pretty good base in both, but of course my French is much better than my Algonquin now.”

Mr. Miller said he supports the idea of Ottawa providing classes, particularly to Indigenous public servants who were not provided the chance to learn these languages for themselves.

He said one challenge to doing so would be making sure Ottawa wasn’t taking language teachers away from communities.

“When you look at the fragility of Indigenous languages across the country, you would not want to be in a circumstance where we’re taking really valuable assets … people in many circumstances that are quite older, and just walking dictionaries out of their communities where communities are struggling to regain their languages.”

The same concern was highlighted by government officials. Both they and Mr. Miller said Ottawa faces calls to ensure it provides services to Inuit in Inuktitut.

“We could do better on that,” he said.

One change Lori Idlout, Nunavut’s federal member of Parliament, said should happen – and which officials also pitch in the memo – is for Ottawa to extend the $800 annual bonus it pays to employees who are bilingual to those who speak an Indigenous language.

The representative says she’s been approached by a union about federal employees in Nunavut who speak Inuktitut but are unable to access the compensation because they are not bilingual in French.

“Meanwhile, they’re providing valuable services to Inuit in Inuktitut,” she said. “It’s a huge issue.”

Ms. Idlout said Nunavut residents face many barriers when it comes to accessing federal services in general, including in Inuktitut.

According to the memo, officials recommend the government explore a pilot in Nunavut where jobs that require they speak Inuktitut “would not require competency in a second official language.”

Source: Ottawa should offer Indigenous-language training, exemptions to public servants, memo says

Diversity isn’t a zero-sum game

Useful look at the linkages between official languages and employment equity, indicating little conflict between two complementary goals. Given that TBS now provides breakdowns by individual groups, further analysis of OL and diversity by group would be helpful given the differences between groups (see my What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service … and What the Public Service Employee Survey breakdowns of visible minority and other groups tell us about diversity and inclusion).

Little new, however, on the various suggestions to further improve diversity:

Fostering Canada’s rich diversity continues to be a national priority, as emphasized in the latest speech from the throne. Yet, critics often view diversity as a zero-sum game. One recent argument insisted that promoting French-language diversity and racial diversity represents “deeply contradictory goals with little introspection,” claiming that French-language requirements discriminate against racialized people. This trade-off mentality is dangerous because it pits groups against each other. In reality, French-language diversity and racial diversity can thrive in tandem, and the federal workforce is a living example of that.

French-language diversity is increasing

French-language diversity in Canada has always faced challenges but it first gained legal representation in 1969 through the Official Languages Act. Today, its preservation is reinforced by the Liberal Party modelling bilingualism in its speeches and investing a record $2.7 billion over five years starting in 2018–2019 to make bilingualism more accessible to Canadians. Additionally, non-partisan government policies, such as the Directive on Official Languages for People Management,have promoted bilingualism in the federal workplace.

Such political and administrative dynamics have helped bolster the number of government positions requiring bilingualism or French-only from 40.1 per cent in 2017 to 45.1 per cent in 2019, according to the latest data from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Interestingly, this same data set reveals a story of diversity complementarity rather than contradiction.

Racial diversity is also increasing

Two common ways of measuring diversity are (1) overall representation and (2) access to executive positions. For visible minorities (the government’s term for racialized people), both metrics have increased. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of government-employed visible minorities skyrocketed by 21.2 per cent, expanding their representation in the federal workforce from 15.1 per cent to 16.7 per cent (figure 1). Notably, Black representation increased the most, growing from 2.8 per cent to 3.2 per cent, and it did so without cannibalizing the representation of other visible minority groups (South Asian/East Indian, people of mixed origin, Chinese, and others).

Clearly, representation has improved but what about access to executive positions wielding power over decisions and resources? It has also improved. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of visible minority executives increased by 20.8 per cent, elevating their share of total executive positions from 10.2 per cent to 11.1 per cent. Again, there wasn’t any cannibalization across visible minority groups. However, this gain has been outpaced by the growth in visible minorities’ overall representation. What this means more broadly is that the pipeline of diverse candidates to fill the nation’s top bureaucratic positions has expanded quickly. Yet, more efforts to train, promote and retain these staff are required to ensure that senior leadership is more racially representative.

Promoting diversity can be inclusive

This complementary diversity is even clearer when French-language and racial data are combined. Since 2017, the federal government has added roughly 8,900 positions that require bilingualism or French-only speakers. Visible minorities have filled a whopping 28 per cent of these positions (which is almost double the percentage of working-age visible minorities in Canada who can speak French). This, in large part, is a result of greater access to language training and new initiatives to achieve departmental racial diversity goals. Simply put, visible minorities are fully capable of promoting the French language if they’re equipped with the proper resources.

Interestingly, these encouraging trends haven’t threatened many other diversity groups. For example, women’s representation and the share of Indigenous executives have both increased over the same period. This may be due to workers having intersectional identities. However, the myriad of diversity personified by top cabinet ministers signals the priority to reflect Canada’s true diversity in the government. Equally, the bureaucracy’s increasing emphasis on diversity since 2016 – through new studies, task forces, departmental diversity and inclusion councils, executive leadership development programs, and the like – has expanded diversity across multiple fronts.

A path forward for French-language diversity

French-language diversity and racial diversity in the Canadian government are increasing but more must be done to reflect Canada’s true diversity. To increase French-language diversity, the government should prioritize improving the quality of language training. Currently, departments use third-party language-training suppliers, which often entails high costs, as noted by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. This decentralization across departments translates into a lack of standardization, inhibiting a high and consistent quality of education, and limited coordination, preventing departments from pooling resources and sharing best practices to teach French.

Instead, the government should offer more virtual group language lessons, workshops and resources through the Canada School of Public Service (the government’s central employee training hub). In-housing more teaching ensures greater quality control, broadens accessibility to more staff and saves on training costs in the long run. To help employees master French, the government should create short and immersive language-exchange programs – across departments and with international agencies – so that staff can work in a different official-language setting. These micro-assignments can include a language-mentoring component, which has also been suggested by the Privy Council Office. In turn, departments would benefit from these staff subsequently spurring more ideas, best practices and collaborations across departments and institutions.

A path forward for racial diversity

To increase racial representation, the government should invest in targeted recruiting programs. As the federal Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion suggests, recruiting racialized students has historically been challenging. Programs like the Indigenous Student Employment Opportunity and the Federal Internship Program for Canadians with Disabilitieselevate the importance of specific groups; a similar resource-backed program for racialized people would highlight them in recruitment. Another way to build the diversity pipeline is through sponsorship programs. In the United States, the Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship Program(funded by the federal government) helps historically underrepresented U.S. minorities fund their graduate program, pairs them with mentors and places them in a full-time position at the U.S. State Department. This end-to-end program incubates talent from the start and fosters their long-term success with resources.

To boost racialized employees’ access to executive positions, the government should formalize a career mentorship program available across all departments. This government-wide approach would enable more standardization (while allowing for some departmental customization) and best-practice sharing. Additionally, departments should consider a reverse-mentorship program, whereby junior racialized staff act as mentors to senior non-racialized executives. Research and the United Kingdom Civil Service’s first-hand experiences reveal that such a program elevates a group’s visibility, unlocks more trust between groups and ultimately increases retention. These interactions also create a non-hierarchical feedback loop that enables executives to better understand lived realities and how the organizational culture interacts with those realities. Thus, they can more effectively address diversity and inclusion barriers.

Whether it’s targeted recruiting or mentorship programs, what’s crucial is that these initiatives be incremental to existing efforts and not cannibalize them. Additionally, accountability is integral to their success. For instance, this could mean factoring into executive evaluation and compensation how an organization performs based on its original diversity goals.

Diversity is just one piece of the journey

Canada’s commitments to cherish its French-language diversity and racial diversity deserve some praise. The federal workforce proves how these two can be complementary rather than a zero-sum trade-off. However, the Canadian government can’t rely on this positive trajectory because it’s far from being truly diverse and inclusive. That’s why it should standardize more official language teaching and bring it in-house, promote official language-exchange programs, invest in targeted recruiting for racialized people and institutionalize mentorship programs.

Beyond diversity, workplace inclusion equally needs attention. For example, the 2019 Public Service Employee Survey results show that visible minorities in the government are nearly twice as likely as non-visible minorities to report experiencing discrimination. This can negatively impact an individual’s sense of belonging, trust in a department, willingness to fully contribute at work and even retention.

Be it diversity challenges or inclusion challenges, resolving both is critical to reducing workplace inequities and socioeconomic disparities. Doing so is a necessary step to making diversity, inclusion and equity a reality in the Canadian government.

Source: Diversity isn’t a zero-sum game

Lost for words: One in every 20 Torontonians can’t speak English or French, study finds

Interesting data, although it appears that in percentage terms, no significant change. As one would expect, lack of official language more prevalent among seniors, women, and low-income.

Will be including this data in my upcoming riding-based analysis:

One in 20 Torontonians can’t speak English or French and the language barrier has greatly impeded their ability to find a job, be active in the community and enjoy a decent life, says a new study.

More than 132,700 Toronto residents are unable to have a conversation in either official language and they account for 20.5 per cent of the 648,970 non-English and non-French-speaking population across Canada, according to the Social Planning Toronto report which is believed to be the first ever to profile this cohort.

Census data collected between 1996 and 2016 found the number of people without knowledge of either official language has increased by more than 175,000 in Canada over the two decades, though it fluctuated only slightly as a percentage of the total population. In Toronto, the number of people who don’t speak English or French shrank by 10,000 in the same period.

In the GTA, Toronto’s percentage of non-English and non-French speakers ranks second to York Region (5.6 per cent) and is followed by Peel (4 per cent), Hamilton (1.8 per cent) and Durham (0.8 per cent).

Within the city, this population mostly resides in the west end of North York, throughout the former city of York, in the old city of Toronto and in northwestern Scarborough, which alone is home to more than 30,000 residents with no English or French.

The report found a total of 43.5 per cent of Toronto residents who do not speak an official language reported a Chinese language as their mother tongue, followed by Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Tamil, Vietnamese, Korean, Persian, Russian and Arabic. These residents also tend to live in areas where their mother tongue is common, it said.

“There is a range of diversity within the group, but we have an overrepresentation of seniors and women who don’t speak English or French,” said Peter Clutterbuck, interim executive director of Social Planning Toronto, a non-profit group that works to improve equity, social justice and quality of life. “You can’t get employment without some capacity of an official language or access services if you are unable to communicate with others. It limits your ability to be active in the community and to feel connected.”

The report, titled Talking Access & Equity, said women and girls make up almost 60 per cent of Toronto residents who speak neither official language, though they only account for 51.9 per cent of the city’s population.

While only 15.6 per cent of Toronto residents are 65 and above, 44.6 per cent of the city’s non-English, non-French-speaking population belong to this age group.

The report said both women and seniors are more likely to come to Canada as dependants and hence may lack the same official-language skills required of the principal applicants or sponsors.

Fahmeeda Qureshi was sponsored by her husband to Canada from Pakistan in 1972 when she was 18, and never attended English classes because she was busy caring for her three children, parents and in-laws.

“I was too busy to learn English because I had to look after everyone else,” said the now 66-year-old, who spoke little English when she arrived and later picked up the language informally from her husband and children. “It is very important to learn English so you can communicate and do anything you want and be independent.”

Robert Koil, who came to Canada in 1992 and later founded a Tamil seniors group in Rexdale, said older immigrants without English proficiency are forced to rely on their children in their day-to-day lives as they’re often isolated from the world outside of their family.

“They don’t know other people and need help for mobility issues and health issues,” said Koil, 88, whose group organizes monthly seminars and meetings at Rexdale Women’s Centre for non-English-speaking Tamil seniors about health, diet and well-being.

“They speak in their mother tongue at home, stay with their children and are afraid to speak English because they are embarrassed by their English,” added Koil, who unlike many of the people he helps, spoke flawless English when he arrived in Canada.

Jenny Huang moved to Canada from China in 2009 with her daughter and husband.

“I only started learning English in junior high (in China) and knew just a few English words when I came,” Huang said in Cantonese. “I go to English classes but it’s hard to learn a new language as an adult. I can understand better than I speak.”

With limited English, Huang said she also has limited job opportunities and gets by working in restaurants and garment factories.

The report found 35.7 per cent of Torontonians with no English or French had a household income below the poverty line compared to 20.2 per cent of residents overall. The unemployment rate for residents without official-language ability was three percentage points higher than the Toronto average.

Source: Lost for words: One in every 20 Torontonians can’t speak English or French, study finds

Ignore the alarmists, there is no language crisis in Quebec, economists say

Interesting and pertinent analysis of Census language data, using the different measures, and the resulting complexities of mixed linguistic unions:

Quebec’s June 24 Fête nationale is a celebration rooted in an impulse for preservation. Behind the parades, concerts and bonfires across the province this weekend lays a reminder of the ever-present need to defend the French language.

It is a message regularly reinforced by the media and politicians, from reports highlighting a decline in the proportion of Quebecers with French as their mother tongue to dismay over Montreal merchants embracing English with a ‘Bonjour-Hi’ greeting.

In fact, it is hard to imagine a Quebec without a serious language issue. But according to the author of a new economic study for a Montreal think tank, that Quebec already exists.

Analyzing the supply and demand of English and French in Quebec over the 40 years since the language law known as Bill 101 was introduced, the study by Université de Montréal economics professor François Vaillancourt finds the law and other measures have done their job.

Knowledge of French has increased despite a drop in the share of French mother-tongue speakers. Francophone employers dominate the Quebec economy. And speaking only French is no longer a brake on earning power.

“Quebec language policy will always face challenges, since Quebec is surrounded by anglophones,” the study for the CIRANO research group concludes. “But considering the picture presented in this paper, we must set aside language policies that regard English as the language of conquest and not the language of international openness.”

He is an economist, but Vaillancourt is intimately familiar with Quebec language law. In 1977 he was recruited to work as a consultant to Parti Québécois cultural development minister Camille Laurin in the drafting of Bill 101.

Forty years later, he decided it was time to assess the impact, and his paper published last month is the result.

Quebec Premier Rene Levesque tries to hush supporters at a Parti Quebecois rally in Montreal, Nov.15, 1976, following his party’s victory in the provincial election. The PQ victory led to the landmark Charter of the French Language, more commonly known as Bill 101, which became law on Aug. 26, 1977.

“Essentially, we are told two things,” Vaillancourt says in an interview. “There are fewer Quebecers with French as a mother tongue, and at the same time Montreal is becoming more English. That is true, but it is not the whole story. There are other things going on.”

For one thing, the percentage of the Quebec population able to speak French rose to 94.5 per cent in 2016 from 88.5 per cent in 1971, before Bill 101 was adopted. Because of the province’s selection criteria, more than half of immigrants to Quebec today already speak French, and Bill 101’s requirement that their children attend French school has ensured future generations become fluent.

To an economist’s eye, this is an increase in the supply of French speakers, and it has coincided with an increased demand, as francophones took control of the Quebec economy and workplaces became more French.

Vaillancourt has found that French is more common in the workplace when the ownership is francophone, and he notes that between 1961 and 2003 — the last year for which data is available — francophone-owned companies went from employing 47 per cent of workers to 67 per cent.

Using census data, Vaillancourt documents a steady increase in the income of unilingual francophones in comparison to their unilingual anglophone counterparts. For example, in 1970, a unilingual anglophone man earned on average 10 per cent more than a unilingual francophone man with comparable education. By 2010, the advantage had flipped to the unilingual francophone, who was earning 10 per cent more than a unilingual anglophone — and eight per cent more than a bilingual anglophone.

Economists Vincent Geloso and Alex Arsenault Morin have also written a paper challenging the commonly held view that French is in decline in Quebec.

The reality, they say, is that language-usage patterns have become much more complex as a result of immigration and “inter-linguistic marriages.” Their 2016 paper says that while census data shows a slight decline between 2001 and 2011 in the proportion of people speaking French at home, it is compensated for by an increase in those using French at work.

“In other words, 88 per cent of the population of Quebec have French as their most often used language at home, at work or in both spaces. The apparent decline of French in Quebec is then a consequence of a rise in multilingualism,” they write.

Statisticians struggle to keep up with evolving behavior that muddies once reliable measures such as mother tongue and language spoken at home.

“Before, if you were a French speaker, you married a French speaker, you worked in a French job and that was it,” Geloso, an assistant professor at Bates College in Maine, says in an interview.

“Now you may be a French speaker who marries an English person and works a French job. … It’s not because somebody uses English 30 per cent of his life instead of zero per cent that French is in a crisis, especially if some English speakers in the process start speaking more French on a daily basis.”

Vaillancourt says language has practically become a matter of faith in Quebec, with people worshipping at the altar of Bill 101 instead of the Catholic Church. But he thinks it is time to challenge the language-law orthodoxy.

He notes that the majority of people affected by Bill 101’s schooling restrictions are francophones, because they are prevented from sending their children to English school.

“That’s fine, but I don’t think having a common language necessarily implies depriving ourselves of understanding another language,” he says.

In 2011, just 38 per cent of Quebec francophones were bilingual, according to census results, compared with 61 per cent of Quebec anglophones. Vaillancourt proposes a mandatory one-year English immersion program for all students in French schools. He acknowledges there could be an increased “risk of assimilation” but says Quebecers’ economic potential would grow.

In parallel, with a view to ensuring all employees are able to provide service in French, he recommends that anglophones should be obliged to have part of their schooling in French, either in an immersion program or in French schools.

Quebec should draw inspiration from the Netherlands, where 90 per cent of the population speaks English, 71 per cent speaks German, and no one worries about he disappearance of the Dutch language, Vaillancourt says.

And if ever a widespread knowledge of English in Quebec led to the disappearance of francophone Quebec hundreds of years from now, “it would have to be understood that this is the result of the choice of francophones themselves and not a forced assimilation,” he concludes.

Source: Ignore the alarmists, there is no language crisis in Quebec, economists say

Réfugiés syriens: l’impact sur la minorité francophone au Canada a été ignoré

In the context of the push to meet the target and deadline, understandable oversight:

Le gouvernement fédéral n’a pas tenu compte de l’impact de la réinstallation des réfugiés syriens sur les communautés francophones en situation minoritaire, reproche le Commissariat aux langues officielles (CLO).

La commissaire par intérim, Ghislaine Saikaley, conclut que le ministère de l’Immigration, des réfugiés et de la citoyenneté (MIRC) a contrevenu à certaines de ses obligations en matière de bilinguisme en réinstallant au pays ces milliers de migrants qui ont fui la guerre civile.

Car tout au long du processus, le ministère «n’a jamais cherché à connaître» les besoins des communautés francophones en situation minoritaire, tranche la commissaire dans un rapport d’enquête préliminaire de 12 pages obtenu par La Presse canadienne.

Or, en vertu de la Loi sur les langues officielles, qui a un statut quasi-constitutionnel, le fédéral «a l’obligation de prendre des mesures positives de façon proactive» afin d’appuyer ces communautés et d’agir de façon à ne pas nuire à leur «développement» et leur «épanouissement», est-il écrit.

Des communautés francophones en situation minoritaire ont bien tenté d’ouvrir leurs portes à certains de ces réfugiés syriens parrainés par le gouvernement, et dont «approximativement 95 % ne parlaient ni français ni anglais à leur arrivée au Canada».

Mais ce fut en vain. «Sur les 39 propositions reçues à l’hiver 2016, huit ont été soumises par des organismes d’établissement francophones, mais aucune de celles-ci n’a été retenue», a noté la commissaire Saikaley.

Pour le porte-parole du Nouveau Parti démocratique (NPD) en matière de langues officielles, François Choquette, «c’est une occasion manquée, une occasion ratée». Car c’est par l’immigration que passe – à tout le moins en partie – la survie des communautés francophones minoritaires.

Même son de cloche du côté de la présidente de la Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA), Sylviane Lanthier, qui rappelle que le gouvernement fédéral a souvent raté la cible de 4,4 % en matière d’immigration francophone hors Québec.

«Les communautés ont peu bénéficié de l’immigration, a-t-elle souligné en entrevue téléphonique. C’est important que le gouvernement fédéral maximise les effets positifs potentiels de l’accueil des réfugiés dans nos communautés.»

Car la vitalité de ces milieux «repose beaucoup, et de plus en plus, sur l’accueil et l’intégration des nouveaux arrivants, y compris des réfugiés qui se réinstallent au Canada», a fait valoir Mme Lanthier.

Les représentants du MIRC ont bien plaidé auprès du CLO qu’il y avait urgence d’agir en raison de la promesse du gouvernement libéral d’accueillir 25 000 réfugiés en l’espace de deux mois et demi, mais cet argument n’a pas convaincu le chien de garde du bilinguisme au pays.

«À cet égard, je tiens à souligner que les mécanismes pour tenir compte des besoins des (communautés linguistiques minoritaires) auraient déjà dû être en place au moment où l’initiative de réinstallation des réfugiés syriens a été annoncée», est-il écrit dans le rapport du CLO.

Source: Réfugiés syriens: l’impact sur la minorité francophone au Canada a été ignoré | Mélanie Marquis | National

Statistique Canada minimise le recul du français | Le Devoir

A somewhat complex read on the metholology of official language statistics, arguing that the maternal language, rather than language most used, understates the relative decline of French:

Le poids du français au Québec recule de façon jamais vue, alors que l’anglais s’est mis à progresser. Dans sa récente étude Projections linguistiques pour le Canada, 2011 à 2036, Statistique Canada s’emploie à minimiser cette nouvelle dynamique.

Selon l’étude, le poids du français, tant langue maternelle que langue d’usage, continuerait de chuter rapidement, tandis que l’anglais poursuivrait sa lente progression. Mais le français reculerait nettement moins comme la première langue officielle parlée, ou PLOP, voire pas du tout sur l’île de Montréal.

La PLOP se calcule à partir des données sur la connaissance des langues officielles, la langue maternelle et la langue d’usage. Rappelons que la Commission Laurendeau-Dunton avait jugé que la langue maternelle ne nous renseigne pas sur la langue courante des personnes recensées. Elle avait suggéré d’ajouter une question sur leur langue d’usage à la maison, en précisant que « nous croyons qu’on devrait utiliser [les réponses] par la suite comme base de calcul ».

Statistique Canada a choisi d’accorder néanmoins priorité à la langue maternelle sur la langue d’usage pour répartir les individus en quatre groupes qui ont comme PLOP le français, l’anglais, le français et l’anglais, ou ni le français ni l’anglais. Pour abréger, appelons-les francoplops, angloplops, biplops et niplops.

L’organisme fédéral compte d’abord tout unilingue français comme francoplop et tout unilingue anglais comme angloplop. Parmi les individus restants, qui sont bilingues ou encore ne connaissent ni le français ni l’anglais, il compte comme francoplops ceux qui ont comme langue maternelle le français ou le français et une langue non officielle, et comme angloplops ceux qui ont comme langue maternelle l’anglais ou l’anglais et une langue non officielle. Il fait ensuite de même avec la langue d’usage pour définir d’autres francoplops et angloplops. Enfin, Statistique Canada compte les allophones qui ne connaissent ni le français ni l’anglais comme niplops et compte tous les autres individus non encore répartis comme biplops. La grande majorité des biplops sont des allophones bilingues qui parlent encore leur langue maternelle comme langue d’usage.

Il est instructif de suivre plutôt la Commission Laurendeau-Dunton et d’inverser les étapes de ce calcul qui font appel à la langue maternelle et à la langue d’usage. La PLOP de Statistique Canada compte 7 507 885 francoplops au Canada en 2011. La PLOP Laurendeau-Dunton, qui priorise la langue d’usage, en compte 7 173 425. D’une PLOP à l’autre, leur poids au Canada passe de 22,7 % à 21,7 %.

La différence provient pour l’essentiel de l’anglicisation des francophones. En 2011, le Canada comptait 448 805 individus de langue maternelle française mais de langue d’usage anglaise. Ce sont des francoplops, selon Statistique Canada, mais des angloplops, selon l’approche Laurendeau-Dunton. L’organisme gonfle ainsi le nombre de francoplops au Canada, en particulier à l’extérieur du Québec.

L’anglicisation sévit aussi, toutefois, dans l’île de Montréal, qui compte 59,7 % de francoplops, manière Laurendeau-Dunton, comparativement à 60,6 % selon Statistique Canada.

L’étude nous induit en erreur sur un autre point. Elle redistribue arbitrairement les biplops de façon égale entre francoplops et angloplops. Appelons donc francobiplops et anglobiplops les nouveaux regroupements grossis par ce forcing arbitraire. L’étude affirme que les biplops ne représentent pas plus de 0,5 % de la population, autrement dit que son forcing ne modifie pas de façon significative notre perception des choses.

C’est faux. En 2011, les biplops représentaient au Canada 1,1 % de la population. Au Québec, c’était 3,1 %. Dans la région de Montréal, 5,7 %. Dans l’île, 8,2 %.

Nous sommes maintenant à même de saisir comment l’auteur de l’étude, Jean-Claude Corbeil, a pu prétendre le 26 janvier dernier dans Le Devoir que « si on utilise plutôt la PLOP, on constate que les deux tiers des Montréalais sont plus à l’aise en français [qu’en anglais] ». Et qu’« en 2036, on devrait toujours, selon les divers scénarios, demeurer à ce niveau-là ».

Il faut d’abord faire semblant que la PLOP façon Statistique Canada indique correctement dans quelle langue officielle un individu se sent le plus à l’aise. Cela produit 60,6 % de francoplops pour l’île de Montréal en 2011. Outre ce que donne ainsi la PLOP, proprement dite, il faut ajouter la moitié du 8,2 % de biplops. Cela donne presque 65 % de francobiplops. D’où le « deux tiers ». Puis, on fait de même pour 2036. L’étude ne révèle pas le détail de ses projections, mais elles font sans doute passer les francoplops – même calculés façon Statistique Canada – sous le seuil de 60 %, et hissent en même temps les biplops au-dessus de 10 %. Ce qui donnerait de nouveau quelque 65 % de francobiplops.

Or, en 2011, l’île de Montréal comptait trois allophones bilingues (anglais et français) de langue d’usage anglaise pour deux qui s’étaient francisés. Le temps seul nous dira comment les allophones bilingues se répartiront à l’avenir entre le français et l’anglais. Cela dépendra notamment du rapport de force entre le français et l’anglais, comme langues d’usage. Selon l’étude elle-même, si rien ne change, ce rapport continuerait à se détériorer. Deux choix s’offrent à nous : nous laisser endormir en comptant les francobiplops ou agir pour mettre fin à la dynamique actuelle des langues au Québec.

Source: Statistique Canada minimise le recul du français | Le Devoir

Plus d’immigration francophone, plaide la commissaire aux langues officielles | Politique canadienne

Having attended some of the consultation meetings with Francophone community leaders, have an appreciation for the issues and some of the government efforts to address this fear.

Some links of interest: French and the francophonie in Canada, Statistical Portrait of the French- speaking Immigrant Population Outide Quebec (StatsCan):

La langue française va perdre de son influence au Canada sans actions concrètes du gouvernement pour augmenter le volume et la répartition de l’immigration francophone, a estimé vendredi le commissariat aux langues officielles, organisme dépendant du Parlement.

« Il est essentiel que les gouvernements fédéral, provinciaux et territoriaux redoublent d’efforts pour accroître l’immigration dans les communautés francophones » au Canada, a plaidé Ghislaine Saikaley, commissaire aux langues officielles.

Avant tout, « l’immigration doit contribuer au maintien, voire à l’augmentation, du poids démographique des communautés francophones au Canada », selon le commissariat.

Il est nécessaire d’assurer une meilleure répartition de l’immigration francophone, là où l’avenir des communautés de langues françaises est menacé par exemple en Ontario,- la province la plus peuplée avec 39 % des 36 millions de Canadiens -, ou dans les provinces de l’ouest.

« Sans la mise en place de plans d’action concrets et d’un échéancier, nous ne serons jamais en mesure d’atteindre la cible nationale d’immigrants francophones, surtout en Ontario », a jugé François Boileau, un responsable des langues de cette province.

Au Nouveau-Brunswick, unique province canadienne officiellement bilingue, « les communautés anglophone et francophone ont un statut constitutionnel d’égalité » et « la communauté francophone représente un tiers de la population », selon le commissariat.

Chargés de veiller à la bonne application de la loi sur les langues officielles faisant du Canada un pays bilingue au niveau fédéral, les commissaires saluent toutefois la mise en place en juin 2016 d’un programme facilitant l’embauche de locuteurs français en milieux minoritaires.

En 2036, selon des projections de Statistique Canada, près d’un Canadien sur deux sera issu de l’immigration. Les francophones canadiens représenteraient 21 % de la population, contre 23 % à l’heure actuelle.

Les immigrants francophones s’installent majoritairement au Québec. Dans le reste du Canada, seulement 3,8 % de la population avait comme langue maternelle le français en 2011, et ce pourcentage pourrait perdre jusqu’à un point d’ici 2036.

Le ministère de l’Immigration a prévu en octobre d’accueillir environ 300 000 nouveaux immigrants ces prochaines années, dont la grande majorité pour satisfaire aux besoins économiques.