Language Projections for Canada, 2011 to 2036
Chapter 2. Factors affecting past and recent changes in language groups in Canada

The evolution of Canada’s language situation and dynamics depends on a number of factors which, for the most part, are the same as those that drive the population’s general demographic evolution. Consequently, the evolution of language groups depends on natural increase (births minus deaths), internal migration (interprovincial and intraprovincial) and international migration (immigration minus emigration). In addition to the above factors, there is linguistic mobility, which encompasses intergenerational (transmission of a language to children) and intragenerational (language transfer or substitution in an individual) linguistic mobility.

This section of the study offers an overview of the relatively recent historical evolution of each of these factors and the part they play in the evolution of the country’s demolinguistic dynamics and the major language groups. First, we examine the differences in the evolution of fertility rates by language group, then the linguistic continuity from generation to generation. Because of the influence of these two factors on the age distribution (and therefore aging) of language groups, we then present a portrait of these age structures by language group. Lastly, we discuss international and interprovincial migration as well as language transfers.

The study of the changes in language groups and dynamics has traditionally been based on the criterion of mother tongue or home language to define language communities. In keeping with this tradition, this chapter mainly presents information based on the mother tongue criterion. However, given that in addition to these two variables, we also have information on knowledge of official languages and that it is among Demosim’s variables, we also present information about Canadians’ first official language spoken (FOLS) when relevant.

Lastly, the approach used in this chapter will focus on the evolution of these factors across the country, in Quebec and in Canada outside Quebec. When relevant, we will present provincial information.

2.1 Fertility

When combined with intergenerational linguistic mobility, fertility enables us to consider one of the key factors in demolinguistic evolution: linguistic reproduction (Lachapelle and Lepage 2010). This factor helps to gauge a large part of the evolution of the age structure (or age distribution) of the country’s language groups.

In Canada, the French-speaking population has historically had higher fertility rates than other language groups, at least until the mid-1960s.Note 1 Unlike other groups, the growth of the French-speaking population was long driven by natural increase rather than by international immigration.

While the total fertility rate (TFR), or the average number of children per woman, of the French-mother-tongue population in Canada was 3.66 during the five-year period from 1961 to 1966, it fell below the replacement level of 2.10 during the five-year period from 1971 to 1976 (1.85).Note 2 By comparison, the TFR of the English-mother-tongue population was a little lower between 1961 and 1966 (3.48) and declined to 1.95 a decade later. As for the population with an other mother tongue—whose TFR was very similar to the English-speaking population’s TFR during the first period—it was only as of the 1981-to-1986 period that its fertility rate dropped below the level of two children per woman. Since then, the TFR of the French-speaking population has hovered around 1.5, except for the 1991-to-1996 period, when it was 1.64. The TFR for the English-speaking population was around 1.6 to 1.7, and the TFR for the other-mother-tongue population hovered around 1.8. As Table 2.1 shows, over the year preceding the 2011 Census and NHS, the TFR of these three groups were 1.67, 1.59 and 1.85, respectively.Note 3

Differential fertility by language group also varied differently in Quebec versus Canada outside Quebec. Aside from the decade from 1991 to 2001, French-mother-tongue women in Quebec generally had slightly lower fertility rates than their counterparts in other provinces. These gaps were quite significant between 1956 and 1971, insofar as the TFR fell from 4.2 to 2.3 in Quebec, while in the other provinces, the TFR fell from 5.0, or even 6.0, to close to 3.0. Similarly, while the TFR of francophone women in Quebec and Ontario fell below the replacement level (2.1) beginning in the period from 1971 to 1976, it began decreasing in the other provinces as of 1976—and from 1986 in Saskatchewan. In general, the drop in fertility among francophone women in Canada outside Quebec since the mid-1950s was more drastic than it was in Quebec. In almost 20 years (beginning with the 1956-to-1961 period), the average number of children per woman decreased nearly threefold.

Since 2001, the average number of children per French-mother-tongue woman in Canada outside Quebec rose slightly, to 1.65 between 2010 and 2011. The change was quite similar to that observed among francophone Quebeckers, whose TFR reached 1.67 during the same period.

The TFR among English-mother-tongue women in provinces outside Quebec was generally lower than their francophone counterparts until the early 1980s. The situation reversed beginning in the period of 1981 to 1986 because of the faster decline in fertility among the latter group. Between 2010 and 2011, the TFR among anglophone women outside Quebec was 1.59. Meanwhile, anglophone women in Quebec have historically had a lower fertility rate than that of their counterparts in other provinces and territories. Between 2010 and 2011, this group’s TFR was 1.46.

Lastly, while the average number of children per woman whose mother tongue is other than English or French was lower than that of the two former groups between 1956 and 1966, it was systematically higher because of changes in source countries for immigration and, to a lesser extent, the high fertility of Aboriginal women. Furthermore, while the TFR of other-mother-tongue women in Quebec was long below that of their counterparts in Canada outside Quebec, the situation began to reverse in the 1991-to-1996 period.Note 4 Between 2010 and 2011, the former had a TFR of 2.11, compared with 1.8 for the latter.

Table 2.1 shows the TFR by women’s mother tongue and FOLS for Canada, Quebec and Canada outside Quebec in the year prior to each Census from 2001 to 2011. It shows that because of their higher fertility rate, other-mother-tongue women drive up the TFR of anglophone and francophone women when using FOLS as the definition criterion. Furthermore, the TFR is increasing most among the English-speaking population of Quebec if one takes into account the FOLS criterion to define English-speaking and French-speaking populations. This primarily stems from the fact that the proportion of other-mother-tongue individuals within the population for whom English is the FOLS is the larger of the language groups studied here.

2.2 Intergenerational linguistic continuity

As Lachapelle and Lepage (2010, p. 84) point out, fertility below the replacement level, even in the absence of migration,

"does not necessarily, in the short or medium term, lead to a decline in population due, first, to a decrease in mortality and, second, to a favourable age structure maintained for some decades by a population with a strong fertility rate in the recent past."

In addition to the low fertility rate, the incomplete transmission or non-transmission of the mother’s (or father’s) mother tongue to children generally contributes to the aging of French-speaking populations in Canada outside Quebec.

Taking into account children under the age of five living in a two-parent or single-parent family headed by a woman—which represents over 97% of families—and looking at the ratio between the number of children with a given mother tongue and the number of children whose mother has that mother tongue, we can calculate an intergenerational language continuity index (ILCI) (Lachapelle and Lepage 2010, p. 86).

For any given language, an ILCI higher than 1 means that there are more children to whom the language has been transmitted as a mother tongue than children whose mother has that mother tongue. This also means that this language was transmitted not only by mothers for whom it is their mother tongue, but also by mothers for whom it is not.Note 5 If we take the example of English in Canada, the continuity index is higher than 1 because English was transmitted as a mother tongue to children whose mother had either French or another language as mother tongue. Conversely, an ILCI below 1 means that a certain proportion of mothers have not transmitted that language as a mother tongue to their children. Except for English-speaking Quebeckers, this is a phenomenon generally observed among minority groups and populations.

Table 2.2 shows that across the country, between 2006 and 2011, the intergenerational continuity index of French between mothers and children is very close to 1, whereas it is around 1.21 for English and 0.62 for other languages. In other words, these recent results mean that there are 21% more English-mother-tongue children than children whose mother has English as a mother tongue, and that there are 38% fewer other-mother-tongue children than children whose mother has a mother tongue other than English or French. These children have therefore been transmitted either English or French.

In Canada outside Quebec, the French-mother-tongue ILCI was 0.79 from 2006 to 2011. This level has generally hovered around 0.70 for the past half century, although it has been increasing somewhat since the 1990s. This increase shows that despite a significant rise in exogamyNote 6 among the francophone population for more than 40 years, there has been a slight increase in the transmission of French to children. This is chiefly explained by the increase in knowledge of French among spouses in exogamous couples for whom French is not their mother tongue (Corbeil and Lafrenière 2010; Lachapelle and Lepage 2010). However, the number of French-mother-tongue children outside Quebec for the 2006 to 2011 period is nevertheless 21% lower than the number of children whose mother has French as her mother tongue. This proportion is obviously much higher outside New Brunswick and Ontario.

The rate of non-transmission of other mother tongues (other than English or French) to children has always been higher in Canada outside Quebec than in Quebec. Until the mid-1980s, in Canada outside Quebec, roughly one in two children whose mother had a mother tongue other than English or French was transmitted this language; in Quebec it was seven or even eight children out of ten.Note 7 During the 2006-to-2011 period, the ILCI for non-official languages was 0.61 in Canada outside Quebec and 0.65 in Quebec.

Lastly, Table 2.2 reflects the fact that despite its minority status in Quebec and strong concentration on the Island of Montréal, the intergenerational transmission rate of English was historically fairly similar to that outside the province, at least until the mid-1970s. The decline in this index between 1976 and 1986 is probably due to the many anglophone Quebeckers who moved to other provinces during this time (negative net migration of 148,000).Note 8 Beginning in 1986, the ILCI of English as a mother tongue gradually increased, exceeding that of other provinces and territories. In 2011, this index was 1.29 in Quebec, compared with 1.21 in Canada outside Quebec. This means that there were close to 29% more English-mother-tongue children than children whose mother had English as a mother tongue. Historically always higher than that of French and other languages, this index points to the appeal of English, not only in Canada, but also on the continent and internationally.

2.3 Population age distribution

The age structure or distribution of a given language population is the result of past demographic and demolinguistic phenomena and ordinarily offers an overview of certain aspects of the future evolution of that population.

For Canada outside Quebec, Chart 2.1 reflects the fact that the age structure of the French-mother-tongue population has completely transformed since 1971. This population is now older, not only because of a TFR below the replacement level, but also because of incomplete transmission of French from parents to children (ILCI of 0.7). This Chart shows that the size of the baby-boomer generation (people who were between the ages of 5 and 25 in 1971), was fairly similar in 2011, at which point this generation was 45 to 70 years of age. However, the subsequent generation did not fully replace this cohort.

The English-mother-tongue population in Canada outside Quebec, as was noted in light of the change in fertility rates, has not been spared from aging. Nonetheless, with an ILCI somewhere between 1.11 and 1.21 for over a half century, and because of international immigration, it has a population of people under 30 considerably larger than that of the French-mother-tongue population.

In Quebec, the evolution of the age distribution of the English-mother-tongue population was very different from that of the French-speaking population in Canada outside Quebec. While in 1971 their age distribution was fairly similar, major net migration losses among the anglophone population between 1971 and 2001, and particularly 1971 to 1986, meant that the 1971 baby-boomer generation had shrunk by around 40% in 2011 (Chart 2.2). Furthermore, these major net migration losses were not completely offset by high intergenerational language continuity rates.

The age distributions of Canada’s major language groups can vary depending on the criteria used to define them, particularly when it comes to official language minorities. For example, the age structure of the English FOLS population in Quebec is very different from that of the English-mother-tongue population. As Chart 2.3 shows, the first group is much larger than the second. This is mainly due to the many cases of language transfers and substitutions in favour of that language, combined with the consequences of major net migration losses in the English-mother-tongue population during the 1970s. It is also due to the fact that, notwithstanding the significant reversal observed since the mid-1980s, many immigrants only speak English when they arrive in Quebec. Lastly, the average age of immigrants upon arrival combined with the fact that many English FOLS immigrants’ mother tongue is not English partly explains the major size difference between the populations depending which of these definition criteria is used, for the 25-to-55 age groups.

Outside Quebec, given that the French FOLS population largely has French as a mother tongue, there is relatively little difference in the age distribution of the francophone population defined by either of these criteria. In Canada outside Quebec, although 22% of the English FOLS population does not have English as a mother tongue, the age distribution of the two populations is fairly similar.

Note also that 92% of the French FOLS population in Quebec has French as a mother tongue. The age distribution according to either criteria is fairly similar, despite a higher representation among the 30-to-49 age groups within the French FOLS population. This result is mainly due to the fact that, as is the case in Canada outside Quebec, immigrants who settle in Quebec are over-represented among this age group.

2.4 International immigration

We previously noted that international immigration has a strong influence on the evolution of the country’s language situation and dynamics. The report Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections for Canada and its Regions, 2011 to 2036 shows the growth in the immigrant population over the decades.

In the 30 years between the 1981 Census and the 2011 National Household Survey, the population born in Canada has grown by almost 5.5 million, for a total growth rate of 27%. The immigrant population across the country grew by 2.9 million, a 76.3% increase.

Two key immigration-related factors have helped transform the linguistic landscape and dynamics of the country. The first is because of the fact that among the provinces that receive the vast majority of immigrants to the country (Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta), only Quebec has a francophone majority. Yet, Quebec’s population is growing at a slower rate than all other main provinces that receive immigrants.

Between 1981 and 2011, Quebec’s immigrant population grew almost 87%, while growth in its non-immigrant population was only 14.4%. In Canada outside Quebec, these proportions are 75% and 32.2% respectively. It should also be noted that while the demographic weight of Quebec within Canada was 23.5% in 2011, only 10% of the some 4.2 million second-generation Canadians lived in Quebec. This result is essentially due to the evolution in the demographic weight of the immigration population in Quebec versus that of the country as a whole.

During the 30 years preceding the 2011 NHS, the demographic weight of Quebec within Canada dropped from 26.4% to 23.5%. As for the change in the share of the immigrant population of Quebec within the country’s entire immigrant population, it remained much lower than the province’s demographic weight within Canada.

The second key immigration-related factor to changes in the country’s language dynamics is the evolution of the linguistic composition of international immigration, a phenomenon addressed above. Here, we will use two defining criteria to illustrate this evolution: mother tongue and FOLS.

As Chart 2.4 shows, there was significant growth in the other-mother-tongue group among the immigrant population between 1981 and 2011, both in Quebec and in Canada outside Quebec. This growth occurred alongside a drop in the English-mother-tongue population share. In Quebec, English was the mother tongue for close to 21.7% of the immigrant population in 1981, a proportion that had dropped to 8.1% by 2011. In Canada outside Quebec, the weight of the English-mother-tongue population also dropped from 46.3% to 27.0% during that period. Meanwhile, the share of the French-mother-tongue population outside Quebec remained stable at 1% of the immigrant population, drastically lower than the weight of the French-mother-tongue population born in the country, which dropped from 6.2% to 4.6% during those 30 years.

Among the population born in Canada, English and French are by far the predominant languages. Throughout the country, the demographic weight of French as a mother tongue dropped from 29.8% to 26.3%, while the English-mother-tongue population share rose from 64.9% to 67.4%. In Quebec, the relative share of the French-mother-tongue population born in the country remained stable at 87.9%.

While statistics on mother tongue provide insight into the evolution of the language composition and diversity of the Canadian population, they generally offer only a partial overview of the population’s FOLS and particularly of the official language likely to be used in public or to obtain services by members of the other-mother-tongue population. Chart 2.5 shows the evolution in Canadians’ FOLS between 1981 and 2011. It also shows that in 1981 almost 30% of the population born in the country had French as a FOLS, whereas this was the case for only 7.5% of immigrants. In 2011, these proportions were 26.6% and 10.3% respectively.

It was Quebec that saw the most striking change between 1981 and 2011. First, the demographic weight of the French FOLS immigrant population grew from 44.5% to 59.7% in 30 years, while that of the anglophone population dropped from 49.4% to 36.0%. This evolution is due to a number of factors, including the Quebec government’s adoption of immigration policies promoting the selection of immigrants with knowledge of French or geolinguistic originsNote 9 close to French. Second, the proportion of immigrants with English as a FOLS is much greater than the share of Quebec’s English FOLS population born in the country, which remained more or less stable at 10% during this period.

Outside Quebec, the share of the French-speaking immigrant population has changed little, growing from 1.7% to 2.0%, while that of the population born in the country dropped from 5.9% to 4.5%.

2.5 Place of birth and interprovincial migration

Like international immigration, interprovincial migration can change a population’s linguistic composition and dynamics. Of course, interprovincial migration of English-speaking populations in Canada outside Quebec does little to change the linguistic dynamics of majority groups, because of the predominance of English. However, among francophone populations, interprovincial migration can have a strong influence on their numbers and demographic weight. For example, in 2011, 26.5% of the population of Alberta born in Canada whose first official language was English was from another province or from the territories, compared with 54% of the francophone population. In British Columbia, these proportions were 22.4% and 60.9%, respectively.

In another scenario, in 2011, 7.2% of the anglophone population of Ontario born in Canada was from another province or territory, compared with 25.5% of its francophone population. That is to say that in a number of provinces or territories outside Quebec, francophone populations are fed by interprovincial migration.

In Quebec, interprovincial migration among the anglophone population is relatively higher than that of the francophone population. In fact, in 2011, 11.6% of the anglophone population born in Canada came from another province or from a territory, compared with only 2.4% of the francophone population.

Chart 2.6 shows the relative share of interprovincial migration and international immigration in the makeup of official language groups in the country. It shows that in Quebec, immigrants (33.6%) and interprovincial migrants (11.6%) together represented just under half the English-speaking population in 2011, compared with under 12% of the French-speaking population. Outside Quebec, the share of provincial and international migrants are also different between the two groups: more than a quarter of the francophone population was born in a province or territory other than the one they reside in, compared with 14% of the anglophone population.

Among the francophone population outside Quebec, these proportions vary considerably between provinces and territories (Chart 2.7). For example, French-speaking populations in Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, British Columbia and the territories mostly hail from the provinces, whereas only 9.4% of the francophone population of New Brunswick was born outside the province.

The data on interprovincial migrations of francophone populations between 2006 and 2011 confirms that the highest net migration occurs in provinces and territories in which the share of the population born elsewhere in the country is significant.Note 10

A study of the migratory movements of francophone populations across the country shows that in each of the provinces and territories most of these populations generally come from Quebec. As such, in 2011, almost 40% of the country’s francophone population who resided in another province or territory five years earlier came from Quebec. Likewise, 74% of people who settled in Ontario during this period lived in Quebec in 2006, whereas 54% of people from another province or territory who settled in Quebec came from Ontario. That said, the contribution of Quebec’s francophone population to certain provinces and territories does not lie solely in interprovincial migration, but also in the fact that, as Chart 2.7 indicates, a sizable proportion of the francophone population of these provinces and territories is originally from Quebec.

Chart 2.8a shows that between the early 1970s and 2011, the Quebec French-mother-tongue population declined (-35,000 people) in its migratory exchanges with the rest of the country, a situation resulting mainly from more substantial migratory losses suffered in the mid-1970s and mid-1980s (-30,000).

With respect to the English-mother-tongue population (Chart 2.8b), its migratory deficit is far greater than that of the francophone population. In fact, between 1971 and 2011, 519,000 anglophones left Quebec for other provinces or territories, whereas 229,000 settled there, for a negative net migration of 290,000 people, including close to 159,000 between 1971 and 1981. In other words, this migratory deficit represented almost 37% of that population in 1971. These results largely explain why the age distribution of the anglophone population in 2011 (Chart 2.3) had the structure it did. In the decade leading up to the National Household Survey, the number of English-mother-tongue individuals who left Quebec dropped considerably. As such, while net migration for this population was -29,000 between 1996 and 2001, it dropped to -8,000 and -5,900 respectively during the two following five-year periods.

Finally, for each five-year period since 1971, net migration for the other-mother-tongue population has always been negative (Chart 2.8c). In other words, there were consistently more other-mother-tongue individuals who left Quebec for other provinces or territories than people who settled in Quebec. This negative net migration was -95,000 between 1971 and 2011, or three times less than the net migration of the English-mother-tongue population. For the period from 2006 to 2011, net migration was -12,700.

These statistics on net interprovincial migration by mother tongue differ from those based on FOLS. Net migration (negative) of the English FOLS population is indeed higher than that of the English-mother-tongue population. First, it is known that people who speak only English are typically more likely to leave Quebec. Second, because many of them have a third language as a mother tongue, the use of the FOLS criterion to define the anglophone population results in higher net migration. Furthermore, during the 2006–2011 period, the net migration of the English FOLS population was -16,780, compared with - 4,035 for the French-mother-tongue population.

2.6 Language transfers

When looking at the demographic phenomena of fertility, mortality and international and interprovincial migration, language transfer can directly or indirectly influence the evolution of the language groups in question, depending on the criteria used to define them.

When the language groups are defined based on the mother tongue criterion, language transfers do not affect their inclusion in or exclusion from this community. However, since the home language is generally the mother tongue transferred to children, language transfer is often a precursor of change.

If the FOLS criterion is used to define a language group, language transfers will not affect inclusion in or exclusion from this community, except in very specific cases. In general, since this criterion is based first on knowledge of one of the official languages and, in cases of English–French bilingualism, on mother tongue, only situations where both official languages are known by other-mother-tongue individuals take into account language transfer to estimate the size of these groups.Note 11

Lastly, when the definition of language groups is based on the home language criterion, language transfers clearly play a more significant role than when other criteria are used. That said, as we will see later, even in these situations, the relative significance of language transfers is highly variable, and even fairly marginal in certain cases.

Aside from the criteria used to define language communities, the point at which the transfer occurs in the migratory or linguistic paths of individuals must also been considered when studying language transfers. On one hand, among Canadian-born individuals, the vast majority of language transfers take place before age 40, and, in many cases, before age 20.Note 12 Furthermore, the "cohabitation" period—when a couple lives together—often corresponds to the period when the home language crystallizes, so to speak. On the other hand, among immigrants, many language transfers occur before they arrive in the country. This can result from a complex migratory path during which individuals adopt the main language of the receiving country where they lived before coming to Canada. It can also result from adopting English or French as the home language in the country of birth before emigrating to Canada. For example, this is more widespread among immigrants from countries where English or French have official status or where their presence is on account of a colonial heritage.Note 13

During the 2011 National Household Survey, there were close to 187,000 people with English as a mother tongue, or 1% of this language group, who had adopted another language as the home language. For the French-mother-tongue population, there were 457,000 cases of language transfer, for a rate of 6.6%, while for the other-mother-tongue population, the phenomenon was observed among close to 2.5 million people, or 37.6%. Note also that cases of language transfer among the English-mother-tongue population break down almost equally between French and one of the non-official languages, while among the two other groups, they were essentially toward English.

Two things should be pointed out here. First, in the case of transfers among francophone or anglophone populations, the proportions of language transfers are higher among the immigrant population. In the case of other-mother-tongue populations, adopting another home language is more common among the population born in the country (56%) than among the immigrant population (32%). Second, transfer rates are lower among recent immigrants than among immigrants who have been here for a number of years or even decades.

Among the other-mother-tongue immigrant population having arrived since 1981 that lived in the country in 2011, that is, a population of a little more than 3.5 million, there were some 895,890 cases of language transfers. This is an annual average of slightly fewer than 30,000 transfers. Furthermore, some of them no doubt occurred before their arrival in the country. For example, of the some 1.2 million immigrants who arrived in the country in the five years before the 2011 NHS, 17% spoke a language other than their mother tongue most often at home. It is generally understood that it is highly unlikely that all these language transfers would have happened over such a short period from the time of their arrival in the country.

In Canada outside Quebec, around 360,000 French-mother-tongue individuals (39.4%)Note 14 reported English as the home language in 2011. By comparison, some 38% of the other-mother-tongue population had made such a transfer. Note that in 1981, almost 29% of those with French as a mother tongue reported speaking English as a home language.

We have pointed out that while people who made a language transfer in Canada outside Quebec almost universally adopted English, the majority language, as their home language, the situation in Quebec is different with respect to the adoption of French, the language of the majority of the population. It is well known that the vast majority of other-mother-tongue immigrants who arrived in the country before the 1980s and who experienced a language transfer adopted English, whereas those who arrived later tended to increasingly adopt French. And yet, as we will show in a moment, the latter result does not mean that these transfers all occurred in Quebec, far from it; they resulted from Quebec’s immigration policies that tend to favour immigrants with an understanding of French.

In 2011, around 12% of the English-mother-tongue population in Quebec had had a language transfer, mainly to French, compared with 1.4% of the French-mother-tongue population.Note 15 Among the other-mother-tongue population, some 353,000 people (35.7%) had had a language transfer, 52% of them toward French. In other words, while almost 79% of the population of Quebec had French as a mother tongue in 2011, barely more than one in two other-mother-tongue individuals who adopted a home language other than their mother tongue chose French. This is essentially because before the 1980s, other-mother-tongue immigrants in Quebec were much more likely to adopt English as the language most often spoken at home.Note 16

Among other-mother-tongue immigrants who arrived in the country since 1981 and who were living in Quebec in 2011, some 151,000 (29.4%) had had a language transfer, almost 7 out of 10 toward French. As Termote showed (2011, 2008), even with such an indirect approach to estimating the number of transfers, the total number of so-called "lifelong"Note 17 language transfers by this population in the past 30 years can be pinned at around 5,000 per year, 3,600 of them toward French. Given the number of immigrants Quebec receives each year, in the long term, the number of language transfers toward French recorded has little impact on the increase in the demographic weight of the population that adopts this language as the language most often spoken at home.Note 18

Furthermore, many of these transfers occurred before arrival in the country. Using data from the Survey on the Vitality of Official-Language Minorities conducted by Statistics Canada in 2006, Corbeil and Houle (2013, 2014) demonstrated that almost three-quarters of language transfers toward English by the other-mother-tongue population in Greater Montréal occurred in Canada, either by immigrants after their arrival in Canada or by the second-generation population. Most transfers to French (53%) took place before immigrants’ arrival to the country. Taking into account only immigrants who had had a language transfer toward French of English, the proportion of those who had completed the transfer before their arrival in the country was 62% in the case of French, compared with 47% in the case of English.

2.7 Overview

The factors likely to influence changes in the country’s various language communities are many and varied. We have seen that fertility, intergenerational language mobility, international immigration and interprovincial migrationNote 19 played an important role in shaping the linguistic landscape observed in 2011. Furthermore, the influence of intragenerational language mobility—or language transfers—on the evolution of the country’s language groups ranged from marginal in some cases, to major in others. In fact, this factor had little effect on the French-speaking population in Quebec, but a significant one on the evolution of the same population in the rest of Canada. Similarly, the adoption of English by other-mother-tongue populations as their home language was of great benefit to the English-speaking populations in both Quebec and the rest of the country.

In the 25 years leading up to the 2011 National Household Survey, immigration gradually became the main driver of population growth. In the context of low fertility rates, as well as incomplete intergenerational transmission of the minority language—especially in minority French communities in the rest of Canada—the influence and relative importance of immigration should continue to grow until 2036.

Chapter 3 presents the possible evolution of language groups between 2011 and 2036 based on mother tongue, the home language and first official language spoken.


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