Chapter 5. Linguistic behaviours at home and at work

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This section will examine the distribution of the French-speaking population according to language spoken at home and, for those in the labour force, the language used at work. In each case, the census provides two measures. As regards language spoken at home, a distinction will be made between the language used most often and those used on a regular basis. The same applies to the language of work: the language used most often will be distinguished from other languages used on a regular basis at work. The regional dimension of linguistic behaviours at home and at work will also be discussed.

Language spoken at home

Major differences are noted in the use of languages in the home between the groups defined according to first official language spoken (FOLS) and immigrant status. Among native-born Canadians speaking French as their first official language, 61% report using French most often at home, while 37% report using English (table 5.1). A very small proportion either use both official languages or use a non-official language (either exclusively or with an official language). Among French FOLS immigrants, 48% report using French most often at home, 32% report using English and 20% report at least one non-official language.

Table 5.1 Population according to immigrant status, first official language spoken and language most often spoken at home, Canada less Quebec

No-one in the French-English FOLS group reports using only English or only French most often at home, an outcome that is due to the method of constructing this group. Among Canadian-born French-English FOLS persons, 70% report using at least one non-official language, while less than 30% report using both official languages.1 Among French-English FOLS immigrants, the great majority (95%) report using a non-official language only. Non-Francophone immigrants fall almost equally into the categories "English only" and "non-official language" (with or without an official language).

To obtain a more complete picture of Francophone immigrants' use of French in the home, information on the language spoken most often at home was combined with information obtained from the question on languages spoken on a regular basis at home, which the census has provided since 2001. Adding this dimension increases the frequency of use of French in the home, but it does not radically alter the trend that emerged using the information solely concerning the use of French as the language spoken most often at home. The difference between French FOLS persons and French-English FOLS persons remains sizable (chart 5.1). Adding categories for French as a language used on a regular basis at home has the effect of increasing the number of persons who report using French at least on a regular basis at home, but in numbers and proportions that differ greatly from one group to another. In both absolute and relative terms, the two groups of French only FOLS persons (Canadian-born and immigrants) increase the most, by nearly 146,000 (or 17%) in the case of French FOLS persons born in Canada and by 9,800 (or 16%) in the case of French FOLS immigrants. In all, for both these groups, the total proportion of persons who report speaking French at least on a regular basis at home reaches 80% and 73% respectively.

Chart 5.1 Population according to immigrant status and first official language spoken having French as the language most often or regulraly spoken at home, Canada less Quebec

Less visible is the effect of taking account of the information on French as a language spoken on a regular basis at home among French-English FOLS persons. Among French-English FOLS persons born in Canada, the number who report speaking French at least on a regular basis at home scarcely increases (by fewer than 2,000 speakers). Among French-English FOLS immigrants, the increase is greater, but the percentage of those who report using French at least on a regular basis at home is low, at 7%.

Language spoken at work

English dominates as the main language used at work outside Quebec, even among persons whose first official language spoken is French. However, the use of English is the most widespread among non-Francophone immigrants, at 90% (table 5.2). For French-English FOLS Canadian-born and immigrants, the corresponding proportions are 77.5% and 81.3% respectively. While in lower proportions, English is also used at work by 58% and 63% of French FOLS Canadian-born and immigrants. For both these groups, French ranks second at respectively 34% et 21%. For French-English FOLS persons and non-Francophone immigrants, the use of French as the main language at work is marginal. There are also a certain number of persons who report using both official languages most often at work, except among non-Francophone immigrants. Thus, 10% of French FOLS immigrants use both French and English, compared to 12% of French-English FOLS persons born in Canada.

Table 5.2 Population according to immigrant status, first official language spoken and language used most often at work, Canada less Quebec

Unlike for the language spoken at home, when information on French as a language used on a regular basis at work is taken into account, this substantially increases the level of use of this language at work for the four groups defined according to first official language spoken (FOLS) and immigrant status (chart 5.2). In the French FOLS labour force, the proportion of those who report using French at work at least on a regular basis constitutes more than half of the total number in each group, namely 71% and 57% of persons born in Canada and immigrants respectively. The distribution of users of French at work between those who report using it most often and those who report using it on a regular basis favours the former, at 41% and 30% for native-born Canadians and 32% and 25% for French FOLS immigrants.

Chart 5.2 Population with French at the language most often or regularly used at work according to immigrant status and first official language spoken, Canada less Quebec

Among French-English FOLS persons, the contribution of those who report using French on a regular basis at work is also sizable—double the number who use French most often in the workplace. Thus, among French-English FOLS immigrants in the labour force, the proportion of those who use French on a regular basis at work (13%) is even higher than those who use it most often (10%). A similar pattern is observed among French-English FOLS persons born in Canada: 15% report using French on a regular basis at work and 17% report using it most often.

Regional differences

Because Canada's Francophone communities have quite diverse characteristics, it is to be expected that linguistic behaviours at home and at work will also vary. We are interested here in the use of French as the language spoken most often or on a regular basis at home and as the language used most often or on a regular basis at work by Canadian-born and immigrant Francophones (after redistribution of the French-English category) in 2006 in Canada's major regions and in a few metropolitan area (CMAs). Attention will be focused solely on the use of French (at home or at work) without distinguishing situations where other languages are used. In other words, the use of French includes the simultaneous use of French and English, or French in addition to other languages.

Generally speaking, Canadian-born Francophones' use of French in the home diminishes from east to west (chart 5.3). For example, more than 90% report speaking French at least on a regular basis at home in the Atlantic region (especially New Brunswick), compared to 50% in British Columbia. The same phenomenon is observed with respect to the use of French at work (chart 5.4). Thus, nearly 90% of Canadian-born Francophones report using French most often at work in the Atlantic region compared to 35% in Alberta and British Columbia.

Chart 5.3a French-speaking population (after redistribution of the French-English category) who speaks French most often (alone or with another language) at home according to immigrant status and region

Chart 5.3b French-speaking population (after redistribution of the French-English category) who speaks French most often (alone or with another language) at home according to immigrant status, for selected census metropolitan areas

Chart 5.4a Percentage of the French-speaking immigrant and non immigrant population after redistribution of the French-Englsih category who uses French most often (alone or with another language) at work by region

Chart 5.4b Percentage of the French-speaking immigrant and non immigrant population after redistribution of the French-Englsih category who uses French most often (alone or with another language) at work for selected census metropolitan areas

Francophone immigrants are an exception to this characteristic of the use of French. Unlike Francophones born in Canada, the percentage of such persons who speak French at least on a regular basis at home is lower in Ontario than in the two Prairie provinces. The difference is approximately ten percentage points in favour of the latter region. One reason for this phenomenon is that a substantial number of Ontario's Francophone immigrants live in Toronto.2 A sizable proportion of Toronto's Francophones have both French and English as their FOLS, and a number of them make little room for French in their daily lives. Toronto is therefore an exception in this province, especially when compared to Ottawa, the second-ranking centre for Ontario's Francophone immigrants, where French FOLS immigrants outnumber French-English FOLS immigrants. Canada's metropolis is more comparable to Calgary and Vancouver than to Ottawa (which is home to one-quarter of Ontario's Francophones). As in Calgary and Vancouver, Toronto has a sizable population of French-English FOLS immigrants, which is nearly two-thirds larger than the population of immigrants with French only as their first official language spoken.

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Francophones report speaking French at least on a regular basis at home and using that language at least on a regular basis at work in proportions of 70% and 53% respectively in the case of persons born in Canada and 61% et 51% in the case of immigrants. In Toronto, the corresponding percentages are much lower: 60% and 52% respectively among native-born Canadians and 41% and 38% respectively among French-speaking immigrants. In Moncton and Ottawa, the percentages of use of French for Canadian-born and immigrant Francophones are much higher than in the other cities.

In summary, when the linguistic behaviours, both at home and at work, of Francophone immigrants living outside Quebec are examined, it emerges that there is competition between French and English spoken at home and used in the workplace. Among French FOLS immigrants, fewer than half report speaking French most often at home, while 32% report speaking English and 10% a non-official language. As to French-English FOLS immigrants, French spoken at home is not widespread, even including the number of French speakers who report speaking the language on a regular basis (rather than most often).

In the workplace, the presence of English is very widespread. For all groups defined according to first official language spoken (FOLS) and immigrant status, English largely dominates as the language used most often at work. Among French FOLS immigrants, 63% report using English most often at work. However, when the figure for persons who use French in the workplace is taken to include those who do so on a regular basis, the number within the labour force who report using it at least on a regular basis increases substantially.

Lastly, regional patterns show that the use of French diminishes from east to west: it is greater in the Atlantic regions (especially New Brunswick), remains high in northern Ontario and Ottawa, and reaches its lowest level in Toronto (and in southern Ontario in general) and in the two provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.


Notes

  1. It is worth nothing that some persons born in Canada report using a non-official language most often at home. This suggests the presence of mixed unions, large ethno-cultural communities that have managed to reproduce themselves from one generation to the next and a large pool of children of immigrants (i.e., second-generation persons).
  2. In the 2006 Census, Toronto had 53,700 Francophone immigrants, and a majority of them, namely 34,800, were French-English FOLS. In Ottawa, there were 23,600 Francophone immigrants in 2006, the majority of whom, unlike in Toronto, were French FOLS. This difference between Toronto and Ottawa with respect to the composition of the Francophone immigrant population can be generalized to mark a difference between the cities of southern Ontario (Hamilton, Windsor) and those of northern Ontario (Sudbury, Timmins).
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