The Situation of Official-Language Minorities in the Labour Market

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    The data for this article come from three questions added to the March 2012 Labour Force Survey at the request of the Enabling Fund for Official Language Minority Communities of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). The purpose was to identify selected language characteristics of the Canadian labour force and workers. This was the first time that questions about language had been added to the Labour Force Survey.

    These optional questions were as follows: a) Of English or French, which language do you speak well enough to conduct a conversation? b) What language do you speak most often at home? c) What is the language that you first learned at home in childhood and still understand?

    In this article, Anglophones and Francophones are identified according to the criterion of first official language spoken. The 'first official language spoken' variable is derived from three linguistic questions using a method that successively takes responses to the questions concerning official language proficiency, mother tongue and language spoken most often at home into account.

    The concept of first official language spoken (FOLS) serves to allocate the Canadian population between the country's two main language groups. In Canada, just over 97% of the population has either English or French as its first official language spoken. The residual portion is comprised of persons who do not have either English or French as their mother tongue or language spoken most often at home and who cannot conduct a conversation in either of the two official languages (1.6%) as well as those who know both English and French but who cannot be attributed either of the two official languages on the basis of the three variables used (1.2%). These two residual categories have not been taken into account in the analyses proposed in this article.

    The unemployment and employment rates presented in this article have not been seasonally adjusted. They therefore differ from those derived from the seasonally adjusted data released in the regular Labour Force Survey publications and thus reflect the employment situation in March 2012.

    The estimates in this article are based on survey data, therefore there is a margin of error associated with them. Summary statistical tests indicate that the differences identified are statistically significant. In other words, the discrepancies observed in the sample likely reflect actual differences in the population and do not stem from the selection of the random sample used. The confidence level selected is 68%. When estimates are presented as similar, or when the text does not specifically mention a discrepancy, the difference between the estimates is not statistically significant at the selected confidence level. The differences in these estimates must be interpreted carefully.

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