Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]89-641-x[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]

This study, entitled "Statistical Portrait of French-language Immigration Outside Quebec: 1991-2006 Censuses," was conducted under the Government of Canada's Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality 2008-2013 and Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Action Plan to Foster Immigration to Francophone Minority Communities (2006 to 2011).

In November 2003, Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Francophone Minority Communities Steering Committee made public the Strategic Framework to Foster Immigration to Francophone Minority Communities. The Framework sets out five objectives, including the one to "increase the number of French-speaking immigrants to give more demographic weight to Francophone minority communities," as well as those to ensure the social, cultural and economic integration of these immigrants into Canadian society and into the communities.

In September 2006, the Steering Committee launched the Strategic Plan to Foster Immigration to Francophone Minority Communities to increase and better harmonize efforts to achieve the five objectives set out in the Strategic Framework. The Strategic Plan calls for achieving the target of 4.4% of immigrants outside Quebec being French-speaking, a proportion equal to the relative weight of the Francophone population outside Quebec in 2001.1 Among the proposals in the Strategic Plan, the importance of research is underlined as a means to get a better grasp of the challenges to be met and to find possible solutions. It was in this spirit that the present study was prepared.

The objective of the study was, first and foremost, to provide a statistical portrait of French-speaking immigration outside Quebec, based on an analysis of data from Canadian censuses since 1991. In so doing, it was important to try to answer the question on the characteristics of French-speaking immigrants and, in particular, the criteria for defining this population. From the outset, the intention was to adopt a fairly broad definition of the French-speaking immigrant population, that is, the population whose first official language spoken (FOLS) is French, either as a single language or together with English.

The question of criteria for defining French-speaking immigrants is important, in that the socio-demographic characteristics and linguistic practices of these immigrants vary greatly depending on the definition adopted.

The Spring 2008 issue of the publication Canadian Issues, entitled "Immigration and Diversity in Francophone Minority Communities" examines various aspects of French-speaking immigration outside Quebec, in particular aspects relating to the dynamics of integration. But the criteria for defining the French-speaking immigrant population directly influence the challenges surrounding their integration and their contribution to the vitality of Francophone minority communities.

The present report has, in some places, distinguished between immigrants for whom French is the only official language spoken and those who cannot be assigned either French or English as their first official language. In other places, it has redistributed the French-English category as the Treasury Board Secretariat does in applying the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations. Whatever the variants used in the different parts of this study, it is difficult not to conclude, following a comparative examination of the two sub-populations of immigrants, that those with French and English as their first official language spoken differ as much in their characteristics and behaviours from immigrants with French as their only first official language as from the rest of immigrants (i.e., non-Francophone immigrants). Indeed, French-English FOLS immigrants share many more behaviours and characteristics with non-Francophone immigrants than with French FOLS immigrants.

It would therefore not be false to say that the inclusion of immigrants with a double first official language spoken in the Francophone immigrant population is an issue that poses quite different challenges from those related to the integration of immigrants for whom French is the only first official language spoken.

Some of the findings presented in this study are quite eloquent in this regard. For example, it is known that a large majority of French-English FOLS immigrants report that they speak a non-official language most often at home and that they use English most often at work, which is an important area of the public sphere. If we take as our reference point couples in which both partners are French-English FOLS, we find that less than 10% of the minor children living in families headed by these couples have French as their mother tongue, 25% speak French at least on a regular basis at home (10% report using it most often) and 7.5% have French as their first official language spoken (whereas 32% of them are French-English FOLS). By comparison, for couples consisting of two French FOLS partners, 64% of their children have French as their mother tongue, 82% report using French at least on a regular basis at home (65% most often) and 75% are French FOLS.

From the standpoint of socio-demographic characteristics, it was found that French FOLS immigrants and French-English FOLS immigrants have a different geographic distribution. In some population centres such as Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, French-English FOLS immigrants greatly outnumber French FOLS immigrants, whereas in other centres, such as Ottawa, Sudbury and Moncton, the opposite is true.

In 2006, there were nearly 61,000 French-speaking immigrants (French FOLS) and 76,000 immigrants with a "double first official language" (French-English FOLS) outside Quebec. Approximately 40% of these immigrants lived in the Ottawa and Toronto census divisions, and 50% including the Vancouver census division. Also, in Toronto and Vancouver, there were nearly twice as many immigrants with a double official language as immigrants with only French as their FOLS. By comparison, Ottawa had 33% more immigrants for whom French was the only FOLS than immigrants with a double official language. These considerations are therefore important when the object of the study is French-speaking immigration outside Quebec.

The fact is that French-English FOLS immigrants tend to settle in the same places as the majority of immigrants, whereas the results presented in this report suggest that French FOLS immigrants often choose Francophone communities (defined on the basis of French FOLS) in determining their place of residence.

The geographic origins of French FOLS immigrants are quite different from those of French-English FOLS immigrants. French FOLS immigrants come from countries where French is the official language or where French speakers are numerous, and a majority of them come from Europe or Africa. French-English FOLS immigrants have more diverse origins. A small proportion of them come from countries where French is an official language, but it is nevertheless true that 30% come from countries where the French language is present. In general, however, these French-English FOLS immigrants were born in Asia (China, India) or non-Francophone Europe.

The results presented in this study also tend to confirm the concerns brought out in Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Strategic Plan concerning the implementation of language training in English and French suited to the needs of French-speaking immigrants. The results revealed that all things being otherwise equal, the unemployment rate in 2006 of French FOLS immigrants and immigrants who reported not knowing English were three percentage points higher than that of immigrants who reported having a knowledge of English. As to the labour force participation rate, the difference between French FOLS immigrants who know English and those who cannot conduct a conversation in that language is sizable: the participation rate of the former is 79%, while for the latter it is 67%.

Of course, the statistical portrait presented in this report is a general one. Nevertheless, it suggests a number of avenues of research that would be worth pursuing in subsequent studies, notably by triangulating methodological approaches. Since the size of French-speaking immigrant populations is fairly small as is their share of the total immigrant population, this clearly poses a number of methodological challenges for obtaining a better understanding of the dynamics that influence the integration of these immigrants into French-speaking communities outside Quebec. However, the statistics drawn from the Canadian census data presented in this report provide a highly useful source of information, and combined with other sources of data on the subject, they are a good baseline for orienting future studies on this topic.


  1. This proportion was 4.2% in 2006.
Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: