Chapter 1. French-speaking immigrants living outside Quebec

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This section examines the demographic weight and geographic distribution, by province and census metropolitan area (CMA), of Francophone immigrants who inhabit provinces and territories of Canada excluding Quebec.

Demographic weight

French-speaking immigrants (that is, those for whom French is the first official language spoken) living outside Quebec constitute a small population in relation to the total number of immigrants or the total French-speaking population. In Canada, most French-speaking immigrants live in the province of Quebec. Of the approximately 700,000 Francophone immigrants (including those with both French and English as an official language, that is, persons have French and English as their FOLS) living in Canada at the time of the 2006 Census, more than 550,000 or 80% reside in Quebec. The rest, 137,000 immigrants or 20% of the Canadian total, are distributed among the nine other provinces and the three territories, including a large proportion in Ontario (table 1.1).

Table 1.1 Population according to immigrant status and first official language spoken, Canada, Quebec and Canada less Quebec

In the 2006 Census, there were slightly over 60,000 immigrants outside Quebec for whom French was the first official language spoken and 76,000 with French and English as double first official languages spoken (French-English FOLS). In general, a substantial share of persons with a double official language (French-English FOLS), among both native-born Canadians and immigrants, live outside Quebec. In Canada in 2006, 13% of native-born Canadians and immigrants whose first official language was French lived outside Quebec, while this was the case with 35% of French-English FOLS native-born Canadians and immigrants. Those percentages had remained stable over the previous fifteen years. If French-English FOLS persons are distributed equally between the French and English groups, as stipulated in the 1991 Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations, there are nearly 100,000 immigrants living outside Quebec who have French as a first official language spoken, representing 17% of all French-speaking immigrants living in Canada (see table in appendix A).

The change over time in the numbers indicates continuous growth between 1991 and 2006 for almost all groups defined according to first official language spoken (FOLS) and immigrant status and all periods, before and after redistribution of the French-English category. Only the population of non-permanent residents declined between 1991 and 1996, but it grew between 1996 and 2006, both in Canada as a whole and in Quebec.

Outside Quebec, French-speaking immigrants account for 10% of the French-speaking population, and 1.9% of all immigrants (table 1.2). According to two alternative estimates—one including only immigrants with French as their only official language spoken and the other also including immigrants with both French and English as official languages—the relative weight of immigrants within the French-speaking population as a whole varies by a factor of two. Thus, the percentage of French-speaking immigrants outside Quebec is 6.5% in 2006 when those with both French and English as official languages are excluded, and 13.1% when they are included. The same applies to their weight in relation to the immigrant population: 1.1% in 2006 in the first calculation and 2.6% when French-English FOLS immigrants are added.

Table 1.2 Percentage of French-speaking immigrants within the total French official language population and within the immigrant population according to census year, Canada less Quebec

Outside Quebec, the relative weight of Francophone immigrants in relation to the French-speaking population as a whole increased steadily since the 1991 Census according to all three estimates. In the estimate with redistribution of the French-English category, the percentage of French-speaking immigrants went from 6.2% to 10% between 1991 and 2006. However, the change over time in their relative weight in relation to all immigrants was more modest. In the estimate with redistribution, a much smaller increase is observed, from 1.6% in 1991 to 1.9% in 2006.

Geographic distribution

The population of Francophone immigrants is distributed unequally among the provinces and territories outside Quebec. The largest pool is found in Ontario, which accounts for almost 70% of all French-speaking immigrants living outside Quebec. Ontario also has the majority of Canadian-born Francophone living outside Quebec, as well as the majority of immigrants living outside Quebec (respectively, 52% and 63.5%). In the 2006 Census, the size of the French-speaking immigrant population reached 68,300 in that province (table 1.3), a much higher figure than in British Columbia, home to the second-largest Francophone immigrant population (14,600). Alberta ranks third with a population of nearly 8,000. The other provinces and territories fall well below this number. In New Brunswick, for example, the 2006 Census counted only 3,400 French-speaking immigrants, or 3.4% of the total, although that province accounts for more than 25% of all native-born Francophone outside Quebec.

Table 1.3 Population according to immigrant status and first official language spoken after redistribution of the French-English category according to provinces and territories excluding Quebec, Canada, Quebec and Canada less Quebec

With regard to the immigrant population as a proportion of the overall Francophone population, that proportion is nearly 24% in British Columbia and above 10% in four other provinces and territories: Newfoundland and Labrador (10.9%), Ontario (12.8%), Alberta (12.7%) and Yukon (13.6%). In New Brunswick, the second-ranking province for the number of Francophone outside Quebec, French-speaking immigrants account for only 1.4% of the total population of French-speaking persons in the 2006 Census (chart 1.1a).

Chart 1.1a Proportion of French-speaking immigrants in the population for whom French is the first official language spoken, provinces and territories outside Quebec

However, it is in this same province that the relative share of Francophone within the immigrant population is the largest of any province or territory excluding Quebec, namely 12.8% (chart 1.1b). In the other provinces and territories, the corresponding percentage is much lower, in most cases below 3%, notably in Ontario (2%) and British Columbia (1.3%), which are the two provinces with the largest proportion of immigrants within their total population.

Chart 1.1b Proportion of French FOLS immigrants in the immigrant population, provinces and territoires outside Quebec

The change since the 1991 Census confirms the interprovincial contrasts observed in 2006. This change over time reflects the increase in Francophone immigrants both as a proportion of the French-speaking population and as a proportion of the immigrant population. The trend is more marked in the former case. Thus, in British Columbia, where Francophone immigrants constituted 18% of the French-speaking population in 1991, that percentage is seen to increase, reaching 24% in 2006. A similar evolution is observed in Ontario, Alberta and the territories, respectively from 8% to 13%, from 9% to 13% and from 5% to 10% between 1991 and 2006. The Atlantic region and the two Prairie provinces (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) register percentages that remained stable at around 2% and 5% respectively.

Immigrants are concentrated in Canada's major metropolitan areas, and the French-speaking immigrant population is no exception to this. Outside Quebec, the three metropolitan areas with the largest populations of French-speaking immigrants at the time of the 2006 Census are, in descending order, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. These three cities alone contain two-thirds of Francophone immigrants (after redistribution of the French-English category). Toronto has a population of 36,400 such immigrants compared to nearly 50,000 French-speaking persons born in Canada (table 1.4). In Vancouver, one-third of French-speaking persons are immigrants. In Ottawa, there are 18,600 immigrants compared to 135,600 Canadian-born French speakers, representing a proportion of 12%. Other cities have much smaller populations of French-speaking immigrants. With just under 4,000 such persons, Calgary ranks fourth, followed by the rest of the cities, which have fewer than 3,000 Francophone immigrants each. Other cities with a large proportion of Francophones, such as Moncton, Sudbury and Edmundston, have at most a thousand French-speaking immigrants. These cities also receive relatively few immigrants in general.

Table 1.4a Population according to immigrant status and first official language spoken, selected census metropolitan area, Canada less Quebec

Table 1.4b Population count according to immigrant status and first official language spoken (after redistribution of the French-English category) and percentage of French-speaking immigrants within the total French-speaking population and within the total immigrant population, selected census metropolitan areas, Canada less Quebec

Statistics from the 2006 Census show that for the grouping of provinces and territories outside Quebec, the number of immigrants with a double official language (French-English FOLS) is larger than the number of immigrants whose first official language is French (76,100 versus 60,900). This is also the situation in British Columbia (12,100 versus 8,500) and, to a lesser extent, in Ontario (55,400 versus 40,600). However, this characteristic is the most striking at the level of metropolitan areas. In some cities, notably Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Hamilton and other metropolitan areas in southern Ontario, the number of immigrants having both official languages as their FOLS is almost double the number having French alone as their first official language spoken. This situation contrasts sharply with that of the cities of Moncton and Edmundston in New Brunswick, where the immigrant population with French FOLS is much larger than that with French-English FOLS. Ottawa also has a larger population with French FOLS than with French-English FOLS, but the difference is smaller than in Moncton and Edmundston.

As with the situation at the provincial level, the change since the 1991 Census confirms the contrasts observed in 2006 between metropolitan areas. It reflects the increase in the proportion of French-speaking immigrants within both the Francophone population and the immigrant population (chart 1.2). An increase is observed in four major cities: Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver. Between the 1991 and 2006 censuses, the relative weight of French-speaking immigrants within the total population of Francophones went from 31% to 43% in the Toronto Census metropolitan area (CMA), from 26% to 35% in Vancouver and from 8% to 12% in Ottawa. In the case of Calgary, the percentage of Francophone immigrants in the total French-speaking population grew from 16% to 21% between 1991 and 2006. Moncton and Winnipeg had the same level in 2006 as in 1991, namely 2% and 6% respectively.

Chart 1.2a Proportion of French-speaking immigrants after redistribution of the French-English category within the total French-speaking population according to selected census metropolitan areas

Chart 1.2b Proportion of French-speaking immigrants after redistribution of the French-English category within the total population of immigrants according to selected census metropolitan areas

An examination of how the proportion of these same immigrants within the overall immigrant population has changed over time reveals a great stability over the study period. Only in the territories and the Moncton and Ottawa CMAs is an increase observed. Elsewhere, and especially in the largest urban centres such as Toronto and Vancouver, immigrants whose first official language is French constitute less than 3% of the immigrant population.

Distribution in Four Census Metropolitan Areas

The numbers and proportion of the population of Francophones in Canada outside of Quebec varies greatly from one region to the next and from one census metropolitan area (CMA) to another. The locations of Francophones born in this country and of Francophone immigrants do not necessarily coincide within a given area. Francophone immigrants tend to move to the same places as the majority of other immigrants, and not always to those places where the highest concentrations of native Francophones are located. That is why close to three-quarters (73%) of Francophone immigrants live in the five largest census metropolitan areas outside of Quebec – Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa.

What is happening at a more specific geographic level? In the large cities, do Francophone immigrants move to the same areas as the native Francophone population? Four metropolitan areas with both a significant native Francophone population and immigrant Francophone population have been chosen in order to examine the distribution of the Francophone population within them. These CMAs are Ottawa (the Ontario side only), Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. For each of these four CMAs, two maps have been produced at the scale of the census tracts, with one map showing the distribution of the Francophone population born in Canada in the given area, and the other showing the distribution of Francophone immigrants.

According to the 2006 Census Dictionary, "Census tracts (CTs) are small, relatively stable geographic areas that usually have a population of 2,500 to 8,000. They are located in census metropolitan areas and in census agglomerations with an urban core population of 50,000 or more in the previous census." CTs follow permanent and easily recognizable physical features as much as possible, such as rivers and roads, they are as homogeneous as possible in terms of socio-economic characteristics and they are as compact as possible. Toronto has 1,000 CTs while Ottawa (the Ontario side) has 190, Winnipeg has 169 and Vancouver has 410.

The representation chosen for the distribution of the population according to census tracts is as follows. The population of each group of Francophones (born in Canada or immigrants) in each CT and in each CMA has been divided by the total population of the group living in the CMA, and the result is multiplied by 100 so that the sum of all the CTs for the same group in the same CMA adds up to 100%. The percentages have been grouped into four intervals that are specific to each CMA. This representation has the advantage of allowing the use of the same scale for every city. On the maps, the darker the colour, the higher the number of Francophones living in the CT. In the keys to the maps, in addition to the scale that is used, the number of CTs and the percentage of the total population corresponding to each interval of the scale have been indicated.

Two maps are provided for each CMA. The first map corresponds to the distribution of the Francophone population born in this country, and the second one shows the distribution of Francophone immigrants. The maps are numbered map 1.1 to map 1.8. The first two maps (maps 1.1 and 1.2) deal with Ottawa. A comparison of the two shows that the native Francophones are primarily concentrated to the east of the CMA, from Vanier to Rockland in the east and Embrun in the southeast. The Francophone immigrants essentially live in the more highly populated zones, and very few of them have chosen the suburbs that are the farthest away from the centre.

Map 1.1 Distribution of the Francophone population born in Canada by percentage in the Ottawa census metropolitan area, by census tract

Map 1.2 Distribution of the Francophone immigrant population by percentage in the Ottawa census metropolitan area, by census tract

Toronto has a situation similar to that of Ottawa (maps 1.3 and 1.4). A significant proportion of the native Francophones living in this Canadian city live in suburbs that are far from the city, in the region of Acton, Orangeville and Newmarket. Other concentrations can be seen in Oakville, Mississauga and Brampton to the south and in Pickering and Ajax to the north. As for the Francophone immigrant population, it lives essentially in Toronto itself, and in Mississauga and Brampton.

Map 1.3 Distribution of the Francophone population born in Canada by percentage in the Toronto census metropolitan area, by census tract

Map 1.4 Distribution of the Francophone immigrant population by percentage in the Toronto census metropolitan area, by census tract

In Winnipeg, the native Francophones congregate in large part in St-Boniface, on the eastern shore of the Red River and in the southern suburb of the CMA, towards St-Norbert. The immigrants are more dispersed, although they have a tendency of settling in the most densely populated tracts (maps 1.5 and 1.6).

Map 1.5 Distribution of the Francophone population born in Canada by percentage in the Winnipeg census metropolitan area, by census tract

Map 1.6 Distribution of the Francophone immigrant population by percentage in the Winnipeg census metropolitan area, by census tract

Vancouver is different than Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg. The distribution of the two groups of Francophones seems to be quite similar (maps 1.7 and 1.8). However, it will be observed that the natives are located in a higher proportion than the immigrants in the southwest part of the city, towards Coquitlam, Surrey and especially towards Langley and the surrounding tracts. The immigrants are more concentrated in North and West Vancouver, as well as in Vancouver itself.

Map 1.7 Distribution of the Francophone population born in Canada by percentage in the Vancouver census metropolitan area, by census tract

Map 1.8 Distribution of the Francophone immigrant population by percentage in the Vancouver census metropolitan area, by census tract

In conclusion, the examination of the types of occupation in the four urban areas studied reveals that native Francophones tend to move to the remote suburbs more often than immigrants, which could mean an older population among the natives. Native Francophones tend to form population clusters in Ottawa and Winnipeg. Francophones born in Canada who live in Toronto and Vancouver are more spread out across the whole CMA area.

Immigrant Francophones primarily live in the most densely populated tracts of the cities. In this regard, only Vancouver is different from the other three urban centres, in that immigrants also live in the remote suburbs.

In summary, the Francophone immigrant population living outside Quebec is relatively small, both in absolute numbers and in relation to the French-speaking population or the immigrant population as a whole. However, the relative weight of Francophone immigrants within the French-speaking population increased, going from 6.2% to 10% between 1991 and 2006, whereas its weight within the immigrant population registered a more moderate change; at most, it was under 2% in 2006.

The majority of Francophone immigrants outside Quebec are concentrated in Ontario, with 70% of them residing there. Also, two-thirds of French-speaking immigrants live in three urban areas: Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

We have seen that the Francophone immigrant population outside Quebec consists of two groups: those with French only as their first official language spoken (French FOLS immigrants) and those with both French and English (French-English FOLS immigrants). French-English FOLS immigrants, numbering 76,100 in the 2006 Census, are slightly less numerous than French FOLS immigrants, who number 60,900. In some cities, notably Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, this characteristic is more prevalent; there, the number of French-English FOLS immigrants is almost double the number of French FOLS immigrants. As the following sections will show, these two FOLS groups have demographic and socioeconomic characteristics that are sometimes quite different.

Geographic origins of French-speaking immigrants

Where do French-speaking immigrants come from, and has there been a change in the source countries of immigration in recent years? In this report, geographic origin refers to the place of birth (a country, geographic area or continent), since the country of birth is the only information that the census provides on immigrants' origins. Three themes are of interest here: origins as such, namely immigrants' country or region of birth; identification with visible minority groups; and the period in which permanent residence was obtained (presumed period of arrival in Canada).

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