Portrait of Official-Language Minorities in Canada: Francophones in Ontario
- Main page
- Section 1 Definitions of Ontario's French-speaking population
- Section 2 Evolution of the population by mother tongue and first official language spoken
- Section 3 Factors influencing the evolution of the population with French as a mother tongue
- Section 4 A few key sectors for the vitality of official-language minority communities
- Section 5 Subjective vitality
- Tables, charts and maps
- More information
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- Other issues in this series
Section 2 Evolution of the population by mother tongue and first official language spoken[an error occurred while processing this directive]89-642-x[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
2.1 Evolution of the population by mother tongue
2.2 Evolution of the population by first official language spoken
2.3 Geographic distribution of the population with French as first official language spoken
2.4 Relative proportion within municipalities of residence and geographic concentration index
Ontario's population with French as its mother tongue stood at 510,240 persons in 2006 compared to 341,500 in 1951, an increase of 49.4%. By comparison, the population with English as its mother tongue grew by 121% to 8,313,880 in 2006 while the population with a mother tongue other than French or English more than quintupled (growing by 540%), totalling 3,204,770 persons in 2006 compared to slightly more than 500,000 in 1951.
Table 2.1.2 shows the average annual growth rate for the population of each mother tongue group since 1951. It indicates that during the postwar period (1951-1961), the population with an "other" mother tongue grew by an average of nearly 10% annually because of the strong surge in international immigration, compared to an average annual growth rate of less than 3% for the rest of the population. It also shows that the average annual increase in the French-mother-tongue population has been consistently quite low, or even negative, since the early 1970s. By contrast, the average annual growth of the population with an "other" mother tongue has stayed between 3% and 4% since the mid-1980s.
The French-mother-tongue population outside Quebec is mainly concentrated in the two provinces bordering Quebec. The provinces of New Brunswick and Ontario alone account for 76% of all Francophones living outside Quebec. Ontario is the province with the largest share of the French-mother-tongue population outside Quebec. Moreover, that share has grown over time, going from 47.3% in 1951 to 52.3% in 2006.
As described in Section 1, the criterion of first official language spoken offers a more inclusive definition of the Francophone population. As a result, the relative share of this population within the overall population of Ontario stands at 4.5% (538,000 persons), compared to a proportion of 4.2% when the criterion of French as mother tongue is used to define this population (510,000).
According to the results shown in table 2.2.1 and chart 2.2.1, there is very little numerical difference between the population with French as its mother tongue and the population with French as the first official language spoken. However, the gap widened during the period 2001-2006, mainly owing to the fact that the French-mother-tongue group grew by only 1,000 persons, compared to an increase of nearly 10,000 persons—mainly immigrants with a mother tongue other than French or English—for whom French was the first official language spoken.
Although Ontario is the province with the largest number of Francophones outside Quebec, we have seen that their proportion within the Ontario population is less than 5%. However, nearly six Franco-Ontarians in ten live in regions bordering Quebec, in which they represent a much higher proportion of the population. Thus, not only do Francophones in the Ottawa census division comprise 25% of the Franco-Ontarian population and those in the North-East region comprise 23%, but their relative share of the population of their region is respectively 17% and 25%. As to the South-East region, while only 14% of the province's Francophones reside there, their relative weight within that region is 41%.
As will be seen further on, the proportion that these Francophones represent within these regions directly influences their language behaviours.
In this statistical portrait of Ontario Francophones, we will not content ourselves with merely presenting information based on one or the other of the large regions of residence. Except for the Ottawa and Toronto census divisions (CDs), the geographic boundaries of which are for all practical purposes the same as those of the census subdivisions (CSDs) or municipalities of the same name, the other three regions shown in table 2.3.1 are composed of several CDs and CSDs. Since Francophones are not distributed equally among these various geographic entities, and since the proportion that they constitute in those entities varies from one CD or CSD to another within the regions, it is quite useful for the purposes of this study to provide statistics showing their relative share within their municipality of residence. In other words, the proportion that Francophones represent within their municipality has more influence on their perceptions and their linguistic practices than on their proportion within a larger region.
We therefore examined the distribution of Francophones according to the relative weight of their language group within their municipality of residence (see table 2.4.1). This revealed a distribution that casts a new light on the minority/majority relationship. The vast majority of Ontario Francophones live in municipalities where they account for less than 30% of the population. In fact, slightly fewer than 200,000 Francophones, or 36%, live in municipalities were they account for less than 10% of the population of their municipality, compared to 225,000, or 42%, who live where their relative weight is between 10% and 29%. Only 14% of the province's Francophones live in municipalities where they constitute the majority.
This relative weight of Francophones within their municipality of residence is quite variable in the South-East, North-East and Rest of Ontario regions (see chart 2.4.1). In South-East Ontario, for example, home to 14% of the province's Francophones, 25% of Francophones live in municipalities where they represent between 10% and 29.9% of the population, while 28% live in municipalities were their relative weight is between 50% and 69.9%, a little over and 32% live in a municipality where the members of their language group constitute 70% and over of the population.
In the North-East region, home to 23% of the province's Francophones, nearly one Francophone in two lives in a municipality where the weight of the Francophone group is between 10% and 29.9%, while nearly one Francophone in four lives in a municipality where this language group constitutes between 30% and 49.9% of the population. Finally, it is in the rest of the province, where nearly three Franco-Ontarians in ten reside, that their relative weight is lowest: more than nine Francophones in ten live in a municipality where they constitute less than 10% of the population, while 7% live in a municipality where their relative weight is between 10% and 29%.
Tables A-1 and A-2 provided in Appendix A and the maps for 2006, shows the relative weight of the Francophone population in each region and census division and selected subdivisions within them.
Information on the proportion of Francophones within their municipality of residence is quite useful in analysing Francophones' perceptions and language behaviours. However, the municipalities vary in size, and in the case of large metropolitan areas, for example, this information does not reveal whether Francophones are distributed sparsely across the area as a whole or are instead concentrated in certain specific regions.
As we have already mentioned, the Francophones live in regions bordering Quebec and within these regions, their proportion within municipalities is variable. It is also useful to distinguish between municipalities within which Francophones are geographically concentrated in a specific part of the area and those in which there is no particular concentration of them. The geographic distribution of Francophones within a given area can also be illustrated by means of a concentration index.1 Table 2.4.2 shows the usefulness of such a concept, especially for the municipalities of Ottawa and Toronto.
Such information is highly useful in that the concentration of a language group within a given area, like its relative weight, will influence the potential language practices of its members.
The information that can be derived from such an index of concentration is useful when being compared with that presented in Chart 2.4.1. For example, this chart reveals that in the north east part of the province, nearly 49% of Francophones live in municipalities where they represent between 10% and 29% of the population, and that only 23% live in municipalities where they comprise 50% or more of the population. However, with the help of this index of concentration, we observe that in this large area, the vast majority of Francophones, i.e., 79%, are highly concentrated within their municipality. Thus, while Francophones in Ottawa comprise 17% of that city's population, 46% of them are highly concentrated in one part of the territory, particularly in the east.
- Refer to Appendix D for a description of concentration index and the concept of dissemination area.