Statistical Portrait of the French Speaking Immigrant Population Outside Quebec (1991 to 2006)
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- Correction notice
- Chapter 1 - Demographic weight
- Chapter 2 - Geographic origins of French-speaking immigrants
- Chapter 3 - Age structure
- Chapter 4 - Interprovincial migration
- Chapter 5 - Linguistic behaviours at home and at work
- Chapter 6 - Couples in which at least one partner is a Francophone immigrant and the intergenerational transmission of language
- Chapter 7 - Education and diplomas
- Chapter 8 - Participation in the labour force
- Appendix A - Population according to immigrant status and first official language spoken (after redistribution of the French-English category), Canada, Quebec and Canada less Quebec
- Appendix B - List of countries with French or romance language
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Chapter 2. Country or region of birth
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Immigrants' geographic origin has changed substantially in recent decades, with immigration from Asia and Africa tending to replace immigration from Europe. This trend is observed for immigrant groups as defined according to first official language spoken (FOLS). However, the group of immigrants whose first official language spoken is French only (French FOLS) stands out by the fact that the same set of countries, led by France, supplied additional numbers to this group in both 1991 and 2006 (table 2.1). Between these two censuses, the same nine countries ranked among the ten countries contributing the most to the immigration of persons whose first official language is French. In addition to France, there is Haiti, the United States, Mauritius, Morocco, Belgium, Lebanon, Egypt and Switzerland. In 1991, Italy was part of this group, but it was replaced in 2006 by the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).
Table 2.1 Top ten countries of birth for immigrants according to first offcial language spoken and percentage that the top ten countries represent in relation to the total immigrants in each group, Canada less Quebec
Among immigrants with a double official language spoken (French-English FOLS), five of the ten leading countries of origin were located in Europe in 1991 (Italy, Poland, Portugal, West Germany and Romania), and four of them remained fifteen years later. Whereas Romania ranked seventh in 1991, in was in first place in 2006 with 7,500 French-English FOLS immigrants. New—and large—source countries of immigration, such as the People's Republic of China and India, joined the group. The geographic origins of other immigrants (non-Francophones) also changed between the 1991 and 2006 censuses. In 1991, the top four source countries were the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States and West Germany, but by 2006 the People's Republic of China, India and the Philippines had climbed into the lead alongside the United Kingdom. With a total of nearly 1,150,000, immigrants from these countries accounted for 22% of all non-Francophone immigrants in the 2006 Census, compared to 12% in 1991.
Another characteristic of the geographic origins of French-speaking immigrants is that the top ten contributing countries account for a large portion of all immigrants included in this group. Thus, in 2006, two-thirds of such immigrants came from those ten countries, compared to 77% in 1991. This decrease in the relative weight of the top ten countries of immigration in relation to the total is explained by the growing diversification of the origins of new immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. This trend is also observed in the other two linguistic groups: In 2006, 54% of non-Francophone immigrants came from the top ten immigration source countries, compared to 60% in 1991, and in the French-English FOLS immigrant group, the corresponding percentages were respectively 45% and 56%.
A careful examination of table 2.1 shows that French FOLS immigrants come from countries where French is the only official language of the country (France) or one of the official languages (Haiti, Belgium, Switzerland) or countries where there are French speakers notably owing to the colonial history of France and Belgium (Morocco, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon). The Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF) classifies its member countries into two major categories: those in which French is an official language (alone or with other languages) and those in which the language has a presence, that is, where there are a number of French speakers. In all, the OIF has some fifty member states, including Canada. To these two groups, we have added countries with a Romance language other than French, since the knowledge of a Romance language (including Italian, Spanish and Portuguese) tends to facilitate the learning of French, which is also a Romance language. The list of countries included in these three groups appears in appendix B.
Half of Francophone immigrants (French FOLS) come from countries were French is the official language (chart 2.1). This proportion remained stable during the period between 1991 and 2006. Nearly 25% came from countries where French is present and a smaller percentage (less than 10%) from countries with a Romance language (other than French). In fact, the distribution of the immigrant population by geographic grouping based on the status of French in the country of origin (with a distinction made for countries with a Romance language other than French) changed little between 1991 and 2006. Approximately 50% of immigrants with a double official language (French-English FOLS) come from countries where French has no status or where the official language is not a Romance language other than French. On the other hand, immigrants from countries where French is present (but without official status) constituted 30% of the French-English FOLS group between 1991 and 2006, while 15% came from Romance-language countries, a declining percentage during the study period. The majority of non-Francophone immigrants came from non-Francophone and non-Latin countries. Less than 1% of them came from a country where French is the official language, and less than 10% from a country where French is present.
The main change observed over recent decades was a sizable reduction in the proportion of immigrants of European origin. This trend prevailed in all three groups defined according to first official language spoken. For each of the three groups, the relative weight of European immigrants declined between 1991 and 2006, going from approximately 50% to 40% or less.
The trend for both French-English FOLS immigrants and non-Francophone immigrants was marked by a sizable increase in the proportion of immigrants from Asia and the Pacific region (from 20% to 40%) and by a stability in the proportion of immigrants from the Americas and Africa (approximately 10% of the total). The group consisting of French FOLS immigrants stands out from the other groups. Of course, the weight of Europeans declined, but this decrease was mainly in favour of immigrants from Africa. In 1991, Africans accounted for 20% of all French-speaking immigrants, a percentage that steadily increased to just over 30% in 2006. During the same period, immigrants from Asia and the Pacific region slightly increased their relative share, while the proportion of immigrants from the Americas declined.
Visible minority groups
As a result of the steady growth of the immigrant population coming from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, there has been an increase in the proportion of immigrants defined as belonging to visible minorities. French FOLS and French-English FOLS immigrants are no exception to this trend (table 2.2). Of the 60,000 French FOLS immigrants, slightly more than half are not identified as belonging to a visible minority. Of those belonging to a visible minority, the majority identify with the Black group, which constitutes 26% of all French FOLS immigrants. The other visible minority groups each accounted for less than 6% of the total in 2006.
Blacks are much less numerous in the French-English FOLS group (5.1%), but that group includes more Asians, especially from East Asia (China, Korea, Japan) and South Asia (India, Pakistan, etc.), as well as Arabs. In all, 32% of French-English FOLS immigrants belong to the group consisting of visible minorities of Asian origin, compared to 10% of French FOLS immigrants.
Among non-Francophone immigrants, the weight of visible minorities of Asian origin, including the large numbers from East Asia and South Asia, is even greater at 43%. By contrast, Blacks account for only 6% of this group. It is also worth noting that persons not identified with visible minorities are slightly in the minority among both French-English FOLS immigrants (48%) and non-Francophone immigrants (45%), whereas they are in the majority (55%) within the French FOLS immigrant population.
There are sizable differences in the geographic distribution of Francophone immigrants throughout Canada in terms of the composition of the population by visible minority group. Chart 2.3 illustrates these differences for five major regions and a few urban centres. Visible minorities were grouped into four categories: Blacks, Asians, other visible minorities and those not belonging to a visible minority. Of the five regions shown in chart 2.3a, the weight of visible minorities is the lowest in the Atlantic region. There, visible minorities constitute only 25% of the total population of French-speaking immigrants. By contrast, in Ontario and Alberta, they constitute 50% of immigrants whose first language is French, while in the two Prairie provinces and British Columbia, their relative weight is 40%.
Blacks' relative share of the Francophone immigrant population in Ontario, the Prairie provinces and Alberta ranges around 20%. In the Atlantic provinces, it is slightly higher than 10%, while it is only 5% in British Columbia. In the latter province, visible minorities are mainly of Asian origin (26% of all Francophone immigrants, but two-thirds of visible minorities). This is consistent with the general profile of immigration in that province, which is largely Asian-based. However, in the other regions, Blacks account for between 40% and 50% of French-speaking immigrants belonging to visible minorities.
The proportion of the French-speaking immigrant population belonging to a visible minority also varies considerably from one metropolitan area to another (chart 2.3b). The weight of visible minorities is greatest in Ottawa, where they account for 60% of Francophone immigrants. In Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver, their weight is in the neighbourhood of 50%, while in Moncton it is just over 40%. The French-speaking immigrant population of the Ottawa metropolitan area (Ontario side only) has a high proportion of Blacks (41%), much higher than in other cities (6% in Vancouver; 25% in Moncton). Toronto and Vancouver stand out by their high percentage of visible minority persons of Asian origin (26% and 32% respectively).
Period when permanent residence was obtained
French FOLS immigrants stand out from the other two groups of immigrants as regards the period of immigration (obtaining of permanent residence) in Canada. They tend to have arrived somewhat earlier than non-Francophone immigrants but later than French-English FOLS immigrants (table 2.3). In the latter group, nearly half (46%) obtained permanent residence between 1996 and 2006, compared to 35% for French FOLS immigrants and 31% for the rest of immigrants. On this score, one of the reasons explaining the particular situation of French-English FOLS immigrants is the sizable proportion of Romanians in the composition of this group, given that the tempo of immigration from Romania has increased since the fall of the communist regime in late 1989. Another reason lies in the age structure of this particular group, which is characterized by a population much younger than the other two immigrant groups.1
In summary, international immigration to Canada has undergone a rapid transformation in recent decades. Immigrants from Europe have tended to give way to immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America. In this regard, French FOLS immigrants stand out from other immigrants in that a large proportion of them come from the continent of Africa. One of the consequences of this trend has been to change the composition of the French FOLS immigrant population. In 2006, Blacks comprised 26% of that population, compared to 5% for the other two immigrant groups.