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This demolinguistic portrait of Ontario Francophones contains considerable and varied information on the characteristics, practices and perceptions of this language group. Of all this information, what stands out? While the following items are not a complete list of the key points contained in this report, a general picture emerges from them.

  1. While the number of the population with French as a mother tongue in Ontario has grown by 169,000 since 1951, the proportion that it represents within the province has steadily declined and now stands at 4.2% of the population in 2006. The same is true for the population with French as the first official language spoken. However, the latter population is slightly larger, in terms of both its number and its relative share, than the French-mother-tongue population, mainly because of French-language immigration and the fact that some Francophones can no longer conduct a conversation in French.
  2. Ontario Francophones are highly concentrated in particular regions of the province. For example, one-quarter of Francophones reside in the city of Ottawa, a proportion almost similar to that in the North-East of the province. This distribution of the population affects Francophones' practices and perceptions.
  3. The change over time in the age structure of the Franco-Ontarian population reflects the aging of the population, and it results from the combined effect of a fertility rate below the replacement level and incomplete transmission of the French language from parents to children. The language is passed on to a much greater extent in regions that have a larger proportion and concentration of Francophones.
  4. Because of the strong increase in the proportion of French-English exogamous couples between 1971 and 2006, one might expect to see a decrease in the rate of transmission of French to children. Yet in 1971, 11% of the children of such couples had had French transmitted to them, compared to 23% in 2006. The rate of transmission is even higher when only children under five are considered.
  5. Francophones' language transfer rate has grown steadily since 1981, reaching 42% in 2006. The proportion of transfers ranges from 26% in the South-East of the province to more than 60% in Toronto and the rest of the province excluding Ottawa and the North-East. Starting in 2001, census data make it possible to distinguish between partial transfers and complete transfers. According to data on respondent's main language from the Survey on the Vitality of Official-Language Minorities (SVOLM), many Francophones report that they are equally at ease in French and English although English is the main language used at home.
  6. In 2006, 60% of persons for whom French was the first official language spoken had been born in Ontario. Nearly 27 % had been born in another Canadian province (primarily Quebec) and 14% outside Canada. The foreign-born proportion was 2% in the South-East and the North-East, while it was 15% in Ottawa and 50% in Toronto.
  7. The size of the French-speaking immigrant population was less than 34,000 in 1981; it exceeded 68,000 persons in 2006. Ontario is home to 69% of all French-speaking immigrants outside Quebec. Also, although the proportion of immigrants within Ontario's English-speaking population stood at 28% in 2006, the proportion of immigrants within the French-speaking population was less than 13%.
  8. Whereas it is in the home and with friends that Francophones use French the most, they use it the least in their interactions with various institutions and stores and in their consumption of media. In the latter domain, the SVOLM data reveal that 67% of Francophones use mainly or only English. Of course, the use of French in the various domains of the public sphere varies from one region to another of the province, with the South-East region being the one where the use of French is the most widespread.
  9. In 2006, 8.6% of persons with English as their mother tongue were able to conduct a conversation in both French and English. The corresponding proportion was 88% for persons with French as their mother tongue and 6.7% for persons with a mother tongue other than French or English. These proportions also vary depending on Francophones' place of residence. In fact, the higher the proportion of Francophones in their municipality of residence, the greater the knowledge of French will be among persons for whom English is the first official language spoken. However, even when Francophones account for 70% or more of the population of the municipality of residence, the level of knowledge of French by non-Francophones barely reaches 45%.
  10. Despite the relatively stable numbers of young people attending a French immersion program between 2000 and 2006, there has nevertheless been a drop in the proportion of young Anglophones aged 15 to 19 years who can conduct a conversation in French. This proportion was 13.7% in 2006, compared to 16% in 2001 and 18% in 1996.
  11. Data from the 2006 Census reveal that while 23% of doctors working in Ontario reported being able to conduct a conversation in French, 7% reported using that language at least regularly at work. These results vary considerably from one region to another. The SVOLM results, in turn, indicate that a majority of Ontario Francophones report using English when consulting different health care professionals. The lack of such professionals able to conduct a conversation in French is often cited by Francophones to explain the lack of services in that language.
  12. In the justice domain, the SVOLM results show that Francophones' interactions with both the municipal and the provincial police are generally in English, even in the South-East and Ottawa regions.
  13. In education, 57% of the children of Francophone parents attend a French-language elementary or secondary school. Including the 11% who are enrolled in an immersion program in a French-language school, an estimated 68% of children receive an education in French. The SVOLM results also show that the proportion of children enrolled in a French-language elementary school (60%) is higher than the proportion attending a secondary school in that language (51%), in all regions of the province.
  14. For adults, the gap that existed between Francophones and Anglophones in the 1960s has been practically closed, especially among the youngest. In the 25 to 34 age group, 34% of Francophones had a university diploma at or above the bachelor's level, compared to 33% of Anglophones. However, within the Francophone population, there is a sizable performance gap between men and women; the latter are now much more educated than their male counterparts.
  15. Because Francophones have caught up in the education sphere, their median income is now higher than that of Anglophones. According to the 2006 Census data, one-third of Francophones are working in the public service, education and health care sectors.
  16. A large proportion of Ontario Francophones report that they identify with both the Francophone and Anglophone groups. Also, while a large proportion of Francophones report using English as their main language outside the home, a number of SVOLM findings suggest that Francophones assign a definite value to the French language. In fact, 79% report that it is important for them to be able to use French in their daily life, 81% feel that it is important that individuals or organizations work at the development of the French-speaking community and 87% report that it is important for government services to be provided in French.
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