Strong, vibrant communities form the cornerstone of Ontario, and these communities are vital to the province’s development and growth. Ontario’s Francophone community as a whole, and the individual communities across the province of which Franco-Ontarians are integral parts, have contributed to every sphere of Ontario throughout its history: socially, culturally and economically, across a diverse array of fields.

Ontario’s Francophone community today is as strong, vibrant and proud as it has ever been. As a minority-language community, however, there is always work to be done to ensure its continued success. This is why the collaboration between the Francophone community and the government of Ontario is so important. Both government and community must work together to attract Francophone immigrants to our province and to our communities, to help carry on a French-language tradition in Ontario that dates back to 1615.

Immigration is perhaps the most crucial tool available for growing Ontario’s Francophone community. Over 2,000 Francophone newcomers arrive in Ontario every year, but increasing that number so that Francophone communities grow and thrive, not merely survive, is an imperative. The work necessary to achieve this is challenging, as it requires coordination and cooperation among municipalities and the provincial and federal governments, the leadership of the Franco-Ontarian community and communities across the province, and a diverse array of partners, from immigration networks and municipal associations to settlement services providers, mainstream organizations, and employers and educational institutions. Only by working together will we realize a strong, vibrant, vital French Ontario.

Summary of recommendations

In 2012, Ontario set a target of five per cent Francophone immigration to Ontario. The Group of Experts on Francophone Immigration was convened by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI) to make recommendations on ways to increase Francophone immigration to Ontario in order to reach this target. Over the course of the past year, the Group worked towards the recommendations outlined below.

Thirteen recommendations are included in this report, across five priority areas: Promotion and Attraction; Selection and Pre-Arrival; Arrival; Settlement and Integration; and Public Reporting. Recommendations are based on the Group of Experts' own expertise, experience and engagement, as well as best practices taken from research and initiatives in the province and other jurisdictions. Each recommendation is followed by suggested strategic approaches that the government of Ontario and other partners could adopt to increase Francophone immigration in the future. Examples of best practices are detailed in the report.

Immigration is a broad continuum with a wide and complex scope. The recommendations presented here are not exhaustive, and focus mainly on actions that can be taken by the provincial and federal governments. To achieve success, both in meeting the province’s five per cent Francophone immigration target and in increasing the vibrancy and vitality of Ontario’s Francophone communities, efforts must be made in each of the priority areas outlined in the report.

As Aurélie Lacassagne, an associate professor of political science at Laurentian University notes, Franco-Ontarian communities are cultural communities, not political or language communities. Attracting Francophone immigrants to Ontario helps meet the province’s defined targets, but attraction alone will not create vibrant Francophone communities. For Ontario’s Francophone community to thrive and not merely survive, Ontario must create opportunity, and effectively integrate Francophone newcomers into its Francophone communities.

This necessitates working across multiple layers with many partners. Communities must be willing to do the hard work of welcoming and integrating Francophone newcomers in French. The federal government plays a prominent role in setting out policies on admission and in selection, and together with the province, works on attracting Francophone newcomers. Many stakeholders facilitate the integration process, including educational institutions, service providers and employers. These stakeholders offer the opportunity to study in French, offer French-language services, and champion French-language ability as a valuable workplace skill.

The Franco-Ontarian community has a part to play too, as a partner with the federal and provincial governments, to assist community groups and Francophone municipalities in their promotion, attraction, recruitment, intake, settlement, and integration efforts. Neither the government nor the Franco-Ontarian community should work in isolation, and the Ontario government must recognize the Francophone community and be a partner in its success.

The Ontario government is working with Ontario’s Francophone community on immigration issues – and the community is responding. Certain initiatives already in place are designed to increase the number of Francophone immigrants to the province, such as the French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream of the Ontario Express Entry program; the online promotion of French Ontario through the Municipal Immigration Information Online Program; the broadening of French-language schools' admission standards for French-speaking newcomers and newcomers who speak neither French nor English; and revising eligibility for English as a Second Language programs to include French-speaking immigrants at the provincial level. These are important steps, and together with the recommendations presented in this report, lay out a roadmap for achieving Ontario’s target of five per cent Francophone immigration.

Genesis and mandate of the Group of Experts on Francophone Immigration

In his 2013-2014 annual report, the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario recommended that, in order to better meet the five per cent target, MCI establish a group of experts on Francophone immigration to develop a government-wide strategic plan. In November 2014, this recommendation was repeated in a joint report of the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario and the federal Commissioner of Official Languages entitled Time to Act for the Future of Francophone Communities: Redressing the Immigration Imbalance. These reports emphasize the important role Francophone immigrants play in revitalizing Canada’s and Ontario’s Francophone minority communities.

In response to the Commissioners' recommendation, MCI invited experts from various sectors across Ontario to share their observations as part of a Group of Experts on Francophone Immigration (“the Group”) in June 2015. The Group met during the summer and fall of 2015 with the aim of developing recommendations that would move the province to its five per cent target. A report was drafted in winter/spring 2016, and the Group met in May 2016 to finalize this report.

The Group was asked to examine the following issues:

  • The main obstacles to the immigration and integration of Francophones;
  • The immigration and integration needs of Francophone minorities;
  • Innovative solutions to the challenges involved in Francophone immigration and the integration of Francophone immigrants;
  • Considerations for setting Francophone immigration policy, program, and intergovernmental priorities for Ontario over the next one to five years.

Recommendations requiring new investments beyond any amount approved or planned by the government were considered out of scope for the Group.

In fulfilling its mandate, the Group of Experts leveraged the expertise of its members and of other key players in the fields of immigration and Francophone immigration. Through face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, videoconferences and responses to a questionnaire sent to stakeholder groups, the Group attempted to enhance its knowledge so that it could present the Ontario government with feasible recommendations and courses of action.

Data on Francophone communities

As of the 2011 Census, there were 611,500 Francophones in Ontario, representing 4.8 per cent of the province’s total population, and an increase of more than 28,000 between 2006 and 2011. However, the demographic weight of Francophone communities in Ontario is flat, as growth in Ontario’s Francophone population is mirrored by growth in the general population.

The Francophone community in Ontario faces challenges if it is to grow, both in overall numbers and as a percentage of Ontario’s population. The vast majority of newcomers to Ontario join the Anglophone majority community. Living in a minority environment that promotes the use of English in many spheres leads to language transfers to English. Birth rates are low, and the Francophone community is older than Ontario’s as a whole, with more Francophones over the age 65 than under the age of 14. Immigration is thus considered an important way to foster and maintain the vitality of Francophone minority communities in Ontario.

The Government of Canada’s Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities set a 4 per cent target for the proportion of French-speaking economic immigrants outside Quebec by 2018, and a 4.4 per cent target for French-speaking immigrants in all immigrant categories by 2023. The federal government is working on a multilateral basis with provincial and territorial governments to increase Francophone immigration across the country.

In the same vein, Ontario’s 2012 Immigration Strategy set a target for Francophone immigration of five per cent. As the federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, noted at a Senate Committee on Official Languages meeting in May 2016, the percentage of French-speaking economic permanent residents admitted to Canada outside of Quebec has remained at 1.4 per cent of immigrants to Canada.

Quebec welcomed 257,908 immigrants between 2011 and 2015, of which nearly 60 per cent self-reported French-language proficiency. Outside Quebec, Ontario is the leading destination of Francophone immigrants. Ontario’s Francophone immigrant intake in 2014 was about eight times that of Manitoba and about 11 times that of New Brunswick. That said, while Ontario takes in the largest number of Francophone immigrants in Canada outside Quebec, Francophones only made up, on average, 2.6 per cent of immigrants to the province between 2011 and 2015, and in 2015, 2,060 of Ontario’s total of 103,559 immigrants (2.0 per cent) were Francophones.

Considerations in the current context

The immigration continuum is evolving and governments must be able to respond accordingly. For example, since the establishment of the Group in June 2015, Mobilité Francophone, a program very similar to the former Francophone Significant Benefit program which provided exemptions from Labour Market Impact Assessments for temporary foreign workers, has been introduced by the federal government.

The recommendations contained within this report may also grow in urgency and importance as the continuum changes. The recent Syrian refugee crisis has shifted the federal government’s immigration priorities and is progressively changing the humanitarian and economic profile of newcomers arriving in Canada and in Ontario, where over 10,000 refugees have been welcomed since November 2015. Francophone communities across Ontario welcome the opportunity to be a refugee receiving community.

As Minister McCallum noted this past January, more than 90 per cent of the refugees arriving in Canada speak neither English nor French. The federal government is trying to settle newly arrived Syrian refugees in a number of Francophone communities across the country, creating what Minister McCallum calls a “blank slate” for both the provinces and the refugees, who can learn one of the country’s two official languages. In response, French-language service providers across Ontario have mobilized and indicated that they are ready to take in Syrian refugees, regardless of their linguistic profiles.

Through the Joint Committee of the Forum on Francophone Immigration, there is an ongoing partnership provincially and nationally to work together to strengthen Francophone immigration. In 2016, Minister McCallum conducted immigration levels consultations with immigration stakeholders. During these consultations, he suggested that immigration could increase to be at one per cent of the population. Any future increase in immigration numbers will have an impact on Ontario reaching its five per cent immigration target.

Immigration to Canada is constantly shifting and evolving. The recommendations in this report are based on the Group of Experts' knowledge and expertise and engagement with the Franco-Ontarian community. The exact specifics laid out in this report may not all be achieved, but the foundational ideas these recommendations represent should enable Ontario to achieve its five per cent Francophone immigration target.

Logic model (immigration continuum)

Many research studies, program evaluations and other immigrant service provider activity reports note the importance and necessity of cohesion and continuity between promotion, attraction and recruitment efforts on one hand and settlement services on the other. Cohesion and continuity are necessary for facilitating success in the settlement and the sociocultural and economic integration of Francophone immigrants and refugees in our communities. This is referred to as the immigration continuum.

For the purposes of this report, the Group of Experts developed a logic model that takes the idea of this continuum and translates it into forms of activities and outcomes (intermediate and final), all supported by a set of principles. The recommendations in this report are based on and anchored in this logic model*.

Ultimate OutcomesSustainable and Vibrant Franco-Ontarian CommunitiesEnriched Diversity of OntarioStrong Ontario Economy
Immediate/ Intermediate Outcomes

Attraction, recruitment and promotion:

  • Ontario has an international reputation as a Francophone destination
  • Prospective Francophone immigrants are aware of opportunities and tools to come to Ontario
  • Ontario employers and communities are aware of the benefits of Francophone immigration


  • Francophone immigrants to Ontario represent the diversity of international Francophonie
  • 5% of permanent residents and temporary residents are Francophone

Settlement, integration and retention

  • Francophone immigrants are well integrated (social, economic and civic)
  • Francophone immigrants are connected to Franco-Ontarian communities
  • Francophone immigrants enrich Franco-Ontarian communities

Attraction, recruitment and promotion:

  • Promotion of Ontario overseas
  • Promotion of Ontario to temporary residents already in Ontario and Canada
  • Promotion of benefits of Francophone immigration to employers and Franco-Ontarian communities


  • Permanent residents selection (economic and non-economic) that favours Francophones
  • Temporary residents selection that favours Francophones

Settlement, integration and retention

  • Provision of accessible and quality settlement services in French
  • Building of sustainable capacity for Francophone organizations to serve Francophone immigrants
  • Development of community initiatives to welcome Francophone immigrants
Cross-Cutting PrinciplesEffective collaboration amongst all levels of government and existing community organizations.
Services by and for (par et pour) Francophones.
Solutions that reflect diverse realities of Franco-Ontarian communities across Ontario.
Effective collaboration amongst all levels of government and existing community organizations.
Services by and for (par et pour) Francophones.
Solutions that reflect diverse realities of Franco-Ontarian communities across Ontario.
Effective collaboration amongst all levels of government and existing community organizations.
Services by and for (par et pour) Francophones.
Solutions that reflect diverse realities of Franco-Ontarian communities across Ontario.

*Please note that permanent residents (PR) and temporary residents (TR) here also includes international students.


Recommendations are directed towards the Ontario government unless otherwise noted.

Promotion and Attraction

1. Develop a marketing plan to promote French Ontario internationally

Ontario is a dynamic place for Francophones to live and to work. People can live in French here while learning English, and children can learn English while enrolled in the French language school system. In recent years, the government of Ontario has increased promotional efforts to attract Francophone immigrants to Ontario. In particular, it participates in Destination Canada and international job fairs to promote Francophone communities in the province and to recruit Francophone immigrants. It also promotes French Ontario through webinars and information sessions for Francophones around the world.

The province is also making efforts to promote Ontario to Francophones who are already working and studying in Ontario and who would like to settle here on a permanent basis. For example, it delivers information sessions on the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program to international students at French-language colleges and universities, as well as making presentations at conferences conducted by stakeholders and groups that have an interest in increasing Francophone immigration in Ontario.

Bringing Ontario’s various promotion efforts under a coordinated marketing plan would be an effective way of increasing awareness of Francophone immigrants to the benefits of living in Ontario.

Suggested Approaches

Avantage Ontario, a consortium of French Ontario universities and colleges, does international promotion of postsecondary institutions in Ontario that offer programs of study in French and/or English. In January 2016, for example, Avantage Ontario promoted its member institutions in Cameroon and on the website

  • Enhance the province’s participation in Destination Canada and explore participating in additional, similar events and fairs.
  • Work with interested partners, including the federal government, educational institutions, communities, municipalities, Francophone Immigration Support Networks (FINs), Assemblée de la Francophonie de l'Ontario (AFO), employers and associations as part of promotion and attraction efforts to convey the diversity and vitality of French Ontario.
  • Leverage other partners, such as Canadian embassies and consulates, Ontario International Office in Paris, Élargir l'espace francophone, and Avantage Ontario to provide relevant information about living in French in Ontario and across its regions, to promote French Ontario as an attractive immigration destination.
  • Enhance Ontario’s media presence (in traditional and social media) in Francophone countries/communities. This could include information about Franco-Ontario culture, through videos and personal stories.

2. Establish an annual international Francophone mission entitled “Destination Ontario français” (Destination French Ontario)

Recognizing the experience of our Atlantic neighbours and their Destination Acadie project, Ontario would benefit from organizing an annual Francophone mission abroad, dedicated to promoting French Ontario. Destination Acadie is put together by a number of partners in the Atlantic provinces, including provincial governments and Francophone Immigration Support Networks (FINs).

This kind of international mission would enable Ontario to promote its welcoming communities and economic opportunities to potential French-speaking immigrants. The target audience would be people interested in visiting, living, working, starting a business or studying in Ontario. Identifying a broader-based Ontario delegation and developing a more focused marketing plan could help Ontario achieve its Francophone immigration target.

In promoting Ontario internationally, through Destination Canada or Destination French Ontario, potential immigrants should be informed of the employment opportunities for Francophone or bilingual workers in specific sectors (e.g., early childhood education, agriculture, tourism, health and justice) and areas of the province (e.g., northern Ontario).

Suggested Approaches

Web traffic to and suggests France, Belgium, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria as potential countries on which to focus promotion efforts. Ontario could also recruit French/English bilingual applicants in West Africa, and from various member states of Organisation internationale de la Francophonie including Cameroon, Romania, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

  • Identify locales where Ontario should focus its efforts to promote French Ontario, and work with local Canadian embassies and consulates on promotion efforts.
  • Hold information sessions, similar to Destination Canada, specifically about immigration to French Ontario, and provide information that would facilitate choosing Ontario as the intended Francophone destination.
  • Work with partners such as Francophone and bilingual educational institutions, municipalities, employers, and FINs, as part of the planning for “missions”.
  • Promote the Franco-Ontarian community by showcasing Franco-Ontarian art, culture and heritage.

Selection and Pre-Arrival

3. Work with the government of Canada to increase the selection of Francophone immigrants to Ontario

This recommendation is directed to the provincial and federal governments.

The province’s five per cent target for Francophone immigration is an important goal that recognizes the value of sustaining and growing Ontario’s Francophone communities, as well as the social, economic and cultural role Francophones play in Ontario. The same is true of the federal government’s Francophone immigration targets. Beyond setting targets, the provincial and federal governments must devise the means by which they intend to achieve them. Ontario utilises its connections with other provinces and territories to create opportunities for discussions around Francophone immigration.

One such method is Francophone-specific criteria for the selection of immigrants to Canada. Ontario is the only province that has a dedicated Express Entry stream specifically for bilingual Francophones, and the Group of Experts looks forward to seeing what can be achieved through this stream. Furthermore, the Group of Experts encourages the federal government to create other means of Francophone-specific selection in support of Francophone immigration.

Progress has been realized on several fronts over the past year, including an increase in the number of nominees for Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) for 2016. Furthermore, on June 1, 2016, the federal government introduced Mobilité Francophone, a program similar to the former Francophone Significant Benefit program, which provided incentives for employers to consider hiring Francophone Temporary Foreign Workers. This program provides a significant opportunity for potential immigrants to gain Canadian work experience that could lead to permanent residency in Canada.

Suggested Approaches
  • Create Francophone immigration streams at the federal level.
  • Give Francophone applicants additional points in the Express Entry system.
  • Increase the number of nominees allotted to Ontario through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP).
  • Promote uptake of the Mobilité Francophone program.

4. Work with the federal government to make language testing more accessible

This recommendation is directed to the provincial and federal governments.

Bilingualism and language ability (French or English) are factors of successful integration of immigrants arriving in Canada, and official language proficiency is a requirement for economic-class immigrants to Canada. To better select Francophone immigrants, it is necessary to address barriers that prevent applicants from being identified as French speaking.

Language tests are administered either abroad before departure, or in Ontario after arrival, at the Alliances françaises in Ottawa and Toronto. A limited number of testing locations means that Francophone immigrants to Ontario who need in-province language proficiency evaluations are often required to travel long distances (e.g., Windsor to Toronto, Sudbury to Ottawa) to take French certification tests, and that large areas of the province, such as northern Ontario, are underserved. Moreover, the French certification tests offered in Ottawa and Toronto are available less frequently than the English certification test, and cost more to take.

According to data analyzed by Radio-Canada, the French certification test (Test d'évaluation de français) offered to immigrants to prove their official language proficiency costs up to $225 more than its English equivalent in almost every part of Canada. The Commissioner of Official Languages has investigated the cost differences between French and English-language proficiency tests for immigrants.His preliminary report released September 27, 2016 confirms the data provided by Radio-Canada.

Additionally, few agencies have earned the accreditation (given by the federal government) required to administer English language tests, and even fewer have earned the accreditation to administer French language tests. As a result, Francophone applicants have to travel further and incur higher expenses than those tested in English. Parity in geographic accessibility and cost between the French and English proficiency tests is important to the Francophone community.

Suggested Approaches
  • Find ways to lower the cost of the French certification test (Test d’évaluation de français).
  • Consider ways to provide more inclusive and geographically accessible testing, such as remote technology.
  • Following the review by the Commissioner of Official Languages, exercise regular monitoring of language testing agencies to ensure that there is parity between English-language and French-language services with regards to costs and accessibility.

5. Improve, and increase access to, the information available online for potential Francophone immigrants prior to arrival in Ontario

This recommendation is directed to the provincial and federal governments.

Preparing and informing prospective immigrants to Ontario prior to their arrival is a key component to successful integration. Francophone newcomers will be able to transition more smoothly if resources and information are more prominently available to them before arrival to Ontario, especially on topics such as credential recognition and licensure, culture and geography, and accessing settlement services.

Suggested Approaches
  • Work with partners, such as settlement organizations, to maximize the quality and availability of pre-arrival information and services for Francophone newcomers.
  • Use the “Immigrate to Canada” (Immigrer au Canada),,, and Ontario’s Francophone Municipal Immigration Information Online websites to link to relevant topics, including Ontario’s Francophone communities, regional labour market information and French-language education in Ontario.
  • Utilize social media to enhance the reach of this information.

6. Work with the federal government to consider a new, more inclusive federal definition of a Francophone immigrant

This recommendation is directed to the provincial and federal governments.

To measure something, it is first necessary to define it. Governments and partners have not

On June 4, 2009, Ontario introduced a new definition of the province’s Francophone population that better reflects the evolution and diversity of Ontario’s Francophone communities: “Those persons whose mother tongue is French, plus those whose mother tongue is neither French nor English but have a particular knowledge of French as an Official Language and use French at home.”

always used the same definition of what constitutes a Francophone immigrant, making it more difficult to coordinate selection, intake and settlement work for immigrants. The federal government recently adopted a new definition of French-speaking immigrant, and the province should work with the federal government to understand how this aligns with the provincial definition. Any definition of what a Francophone immigrant is should recognize the diversity and vitality of the Francophone community, with a view to including anyone who has a direct, active connection with the French language, going beyond the more traditional definitions based exclusively on mother tongue.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada introduced a new definition for “French-speaking immigrant” on April 8, 2016, to better capture the number of French-speaking immigrants entering Canada. The definition is the following: “A French-speaking immigrant is an immigrant for whom French is the first Canadian official language of usage.”

Suggested Approaches
  • Work with the federal government to align provincial and federal definitions of Francophone immigrant.
  • Publish annual statistics on Francophone immigrants to Ontario to measure progress towards Ontario’s five per cent target.
  • Consider ways to capture data on secondary migration to Ontario from other provinces and territories.


7. Proactively welcome Francophone newcomers to Ontario in French

This recommendation is directed to the provincial and federal governments.

Arriving in a new country and a new community is never easy, and even more so when dealing with language and cultural barriers. This is why it is imperative that Francophone newcomers to Ontario proactively receive information and services in French, linking them to Francophone communities in Ontario, wherever their arrival location.

Settlement service providers and various levels of government provide services and information for immigrants and potential immigrants to Ontario prior to their arrival in Canada. Harmonizing this information and connecting pre-arrival and arrival services will enable the needs of new Franco-Ontarians to be met once they arrive in our province.

Suggested Approaches
  • Work with the federal government and service providers to better identify Francophone immigrants and refugees so that they can receive information in French upon arrival in Ontario, wherever they land, and be provided with services that link them to a life in French.
  • Better connect pre-arrival services with arrival services to ensure a Francophone pathway whereby Francophones receive services in French and links to Francophone communities.

8. Leverage Ontario’s municipalities to help attract, retain and integrate Francophone newcomers to communities across the province

Municipalities play an important role in integrating immigrants and should be involved in meeting the five per cent target for Francophone immigration. Francophone newcomers can help revitalize Francophone and non-Francophone communities alike, and provide communities with diverse skills, knowledge and experience.

It is important to recognize that there are varied levels of acceptance of immigration in communities across Ontario and that Francophone communities across the province are diverse and have differing needs (e.g., urban Francophone vs. rural Francophone). Some communities collectively recognize the importance of immigration in mitigating population decline and have proactively developed initiatives. Other communities are in the beginning phases of recognizing the positive impact Francophone immigration can have on their demography and economies. Some communities do not yet consider immigration as a solution to demographic decline.

Suggested Approaches

The city of Ottawa’s Immigration Strategy (OIS) sets long-term priorities in six areas: economic integration; health and wellbeing; settlement; language; education; and community and institutional capacity development. The OIS includes lenses to address the unique needs of subsets of the immigrant population, including Francophone immigrants, immigrant youth, immigrant women, and visible minority immigrants.

  • Highlight the advantages of attracting Francophone immigrants to municipalities through organizations and tables such as the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), Association française des municipalités de l’Ontario (AFMO) and the Municipal Immigration Committee (MIC).
  • Continue to support the Municipal Immigration Information Online (MIIO) Program and encourage partners to update content on their websites.
  • Work with municipalities and regions and other partners (e.g., AMO, AFMO, Francophone MIIO, educational institutions) to attract Francophone immigrants to their communities. This could assist in Francophone immigrant settlement to areas other than large urban centres.
  • Use existing entities, such as MIC, to share information and best practices on Francophone immigration and local promotion and attraction solutions.
  • Encourage municipalities to make public commitments about attracting and integrating Francophone immigrants and putting plans into place to meet those commitments.
  • Highlight rural, northern, or smaller Francophone communities where specific economic opportunities exist for immigrants.
  • Introduce ways and utilize existing ways (e.g., Ontario Award for Leadership in Immigrant Employment) of honouring communities and individuals that have contributed to the success of Francophone immigrants. This could include recognition for:
    • Communities that successfully integrate Francophone immigrants;
    • Francophone immigration champions among key community players in the public and private sectors;
    • Successful Francophone immigrants.

Settlement and Integration

9. Ensure the quality and consistency of French-language services when identifying and funding agencies capable of providing Francophone immigrants and refugees with services in French

This recommendation is directed to the provincial and federal governments.

Host communities play a critical role in the settlement, integration and retention of immigrants in Ontario, and the Group of Experts would like to emphasize the significant contribution of the province’s French-language settlement services. To attract Francophone immigrants and refugees and facilitate their settlement and integration, it is important to ensure the presence, quality and funding of French-language services in every part of the province.

In addition to active offer of French-language services, it is imperative to recognize the importance of settlement services provided in French by Francophone agencies to Francophone immigrants. The federal and provincial governments must ensure that services are being provided in French when a non-Francophone agency is funded to serve a region. Services and information being provided in French must not simply be translations of English-language materials, but must be adaptations that take into consideration Franco-Ontarian culture.

Suggested Approaches
  • Consider the needs of Francophones, through a Francophone lens, when developing policies, programs and services, and when making funding decisions in collaboration with the federal government.
  • Emphasize the importance of Francophone agencies’ knowledge and experience in designing and delivering culturally adaptive settlement services to Francophone immigrants and refugees when developing criteria for funding opportunities.
  • Explore how to refresh service-level contracts/contribution agreements to enable referrals from non-Francophone agencies to Francophone agencies for Francophone clients (i.e., every Francophone client directly referred to French-language services by Anglophone service providers should count as a client served).
    • Encourage partnerships between Francophone and Anglophone agencies, so that Francophone immigrants receive appropriate referrals and information about settlement in the Francophone community.
  • Provide allophone clients (people who speak neither French nor English) with a choice of being referred to Anglophone or Francophone agencies.
  • Train and equip front-line government employees, such as regional staff, so that they will be able to refer Francophones who have just arrived in Ontario to other French-language government, community and cultural services in their area. Training and materials being available in French is important, and ensures employees do not have to translate the information themselves for Francophone clients.
  • Develop service standards with Francophone providers to ensure a uniform quality of French language services across the province, such as developing agreements to refer clients via remote or tele-services.
  • Improve settlement services' assessment and evaluation processes, to measure the impact and effectiveness of settlement services offered (i.e. identify means of evaluating integration).
    • Improve agencies' ability to self-assess and evaluate their services.
    • Improve the funders' (governments of Canada and Ontario) assessment and evaluation of agencies' services.
  • Make training courses on the active offer of French-language services in Ontario available to service providers.

10. Work with Francophone community groups to create and distribute informational materials about the settlement services available to Francophone newcomers

This recommendation is directed to the provincial and federal governments.

Support for immigrants is a key factor in successful integration. Adequate resources and continued stable, consistent funding of Francophone settlement services is critical if those services are to support Francophone immigrants effectively, which will facilitate their retention in our Franco-Ontarian communities.

The Ontario government should increase its collaboration with partners such as Francophone Immigration Support Networks (FINs). FINs are bodies that are funded and supported by the federal government, with pre-existing community planning and coordination structures. They also encourage the promotion of Francophone immigration partnerships and initiatives among organizations in every part of Ontario.

It is essential to involve not only traditional agencies and institutions (e.g., settlement centres, the school system and municipalities), but also non-traditional institutions in the intake and settlement of Francophone newcomers. In many cases, immigrants do not go directly to service providers, but rather receive information via word of mouth and from any number of community connections. These can include members of cultural and community centres, community development agencies such as the regional Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario (ACFO), senior citizens' centres, festival organizations, local service clubs, ethnocultural and religious communities, and organizations serving marginalized groups (such as the Mouvement ontarien des femmes immigrantes francophones and FrancoQueer). Members of organizations and civic and business leaders can act as ambassadors for Francophone immigration to Ontario.

Suggested Approaches

The Élargir l'espace francophone project aims to promote French-language education in Ontario. The primary goal is to ensure that all Francophone, Francophile and allophone newcomers in the province are aware of the province’s education system in French, from early childhood to post-secondary education. A promotional postcard was created to direct newcomers to an information-rich site. The postcard was designed to reach local, regional, provincial and international audiences, and has been distributed as far as Senegal and France.

  • Work to enhance the online presence of settlement service providers.
  • Create awareness about French-language services available for newcomers through traditional (e.g., French-language community media outlets – radio stations,

    Manitoba’s IRCC-funded pilot project for Francophone immigrants—a partnership between Société franco-manitobaine and Welcome Place—provides support services for immigrants upon their arrival. These services include providing information on housing, language training, administrative assistance, and other newcomer support. Of those non-profit organizations with which the government of Ontario has existing relationships with, Ontario may be able to encourage similar collaborative efforts between Francophone agencies and immigrant-servicing organizations to best serve the needs of Francophone immigrants to the province.

    newspapers, electronic media) and social media. Identify opportunities to highlight these services (e.g., during Francophone Immigration Week in November).

  • Build relationships with non-traditional groups and leaders, so that they will have the tools to provide better referrals to Francophone immigrants who come to non-traditional groups and leaders looking for information.
  • Encourage partnerships between Francophone settlement agencies and their potential affiliates, such as service agencies for LGBTQIA2S and/or disabled immigrants and refugees, to exchange information, best practices and form connections about services for these communities.

11. Partner with Francophone agencies and employers to develop Francophone workforce initiatives

Promoting Ontario as an attractive destination for Francophones and making it easier for them to arrive are important factors in increasing Francophone immigration to Ontario. Just as critical is giving Francophone immigrants the tools to succeed economically upon arrival. Providing services and supports and creating and further developing initiatives promoting the value of the Francophone workforce. This will ensure that Francophone, bilingual immigrants and newcomers competent in both languages are job-ready and can find work —critical to maintaining and growing Ontario’s Francophone communities. Putting Francophone newcomers in a position to succeed and integrating them into the workforce is a benefit not just to French Ontario, but to Ontario as a whole.

Suggested Approaches

La Passerelle I.D.É. launched a Francophone Workforce Development Council initiative in May 2015. It is an intersectoral advisory body that will identify high-level strategies to expand and strengthen the channeling of francophone bilingual talent in the Toronto area, with special focus on improving the employability of young Francophones.

The TRIEC (Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council) Connector program creates opportunities for networking between skilled international professionals and their established counterparts in the Greater Toronto Area. Through Connector, skilled immigrants build their professional networks and find job opportunities. Employers can access top-tier talent that they may not find through traditional recruitment channels.

  • Work with local partners (e.g., FINs, chambers of commerce, Local Immigration Partnerships) to share knowledge and resources to support workforce integration for Francophone immigrants.
  • Leverage Employment Ontario and Economic and Social Development Canada’s Job Bank to promote employment opportunities for immigrants and to match jobs with skills.
  • Promote the value of the bilingual and Francophone workforce to Ontarian society and businesses.
  • Enhance employment-related networking to match employers looking for Francophone or bilingual (French/English) staff and Francophone employees with the required skills.
  • Leverage and promote various job banks, including Thétis and Magnet.

12. Continue to work with colleges, universities and other partners to develop initiatives that ensure international students are both welcomed and supported in their new environment

Ontario’s postsecondary institutions possess an impressive array of international knowledge and talent. International students studying in French in Ontario are potential Francophone immigrants to our province. For this reason, it is important to support these students' integration throughout their schooling.

The province and postsecondary institutions are making significant efforts to attract international students. When they arrive, they may need support integrating. While they are effectively integrated into campus life and classes, they are not always effectively integrated into the community. It may be difficult for students who wish to stay, find a job and navigate the immigration system.

Suggested Approaches

The University of Hearst is successfully recruiting Francophone international students through education fairs in Western Africa. In addition to active recruitment, the university has noticed an uptake in indirect recruitment, done by the students themselves, who encourage family members and friends to join them in Northern Ontario. Currently, 30 international students are enrolled and 300 more have expressed interest.

The University of Ottawa has reduced tuition fees for Francophone international students to parity with domestic students. Francophone international students pay the same fees as Canadian students. Since 2014 (when the exemption was introduced), the number of Francophone and Francophile international students on the University of Ottawa campus has doubled.

  • Work with educational institutions and other partners to ensure Francophone international students are aware of options for permanent residence in Ontario when they complete their studies (e.g., Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, Canadian Experience Class).
  • Create a welcoming environment for international students so that they are able to integrate into their communities, in addition to getting settled in their postsecondary institutions and concentrating on their academic studies. This could include hosting information sessions, involving federal and provincial governments, settlement agencies, and municipalities, on college and university campuses to inform international students about services, supports and economic opportunities available throughout the province.
  • Enhance French-Language services available to students at English-language educational institutions.
  • Promote and enhance off-campus work permits post-graduation for international students.

Public Reporting

13. Report back on progress towards the five per cent target and on implementing the recommendations made in this report

The Group of Experts expects that the Ontario government will include updates on the Group’s recommendations in the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration’s annual progress report, and share similar updates with the Provincial Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs.

In 2012, Ontario’s Immigration Strategy set a five per cent target for Francophone immigration, but it did not include a timeline for achieving the target. The Group of Experts suggests that Ontario should be able to reach the five per cent target within five years, by the end of 2020. Factors beyond those laid out in this report - from global events to federal immigration levels planning - could impact Ontario’s ability to meet its target in this timespan, but the Group is confident that these recommendations will put the province on the right path.

Suggested Approaches
  • Provide regular, public updates on the progress towards the five per cent target through the Ministry’s annual progress report.
  • Provide annual updates on progress to partners at existing tables and forums.

Closing remarks

With Canada’s renewed interest in immigration and refugees, and the provincial and federal governments' continuing interest in the Francophonie, this is an opportune time to build on what has already been accomplished in Ontario and to pursue an enhanced strategy of promotion, attraction, selection, intake, settlement and integration of Francophone immigrants in our province. Collaboration will be a key factor in this work. To formalize that this collaboration will occur, negotiations between Ontario and the federal government on a new Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement should include a Francophone-specific component.

Francophones have been present on Ontario soil for more than 400 years, and more than 600,000 Francophones currently call Ontario their home, nearly five per cent of the province’s total population, and the second-largest Francophone community in Canada after Quebec. However, the demographic pressures facing the Francophone community in Ontario are substantial. Francophones in Ontario are aging, and have low birth rates. Moreover, many transfer to English. The province needs to bring in enough Francophone immigrants to contribute to the cultural and economic prosperity of Ontario’s Francophone community and to ensure that the community’s demographic weight does not decline.

Achieving the five per cent target for Francophone immigration to Ontario

This is why the five per cent target for Francophone immigration to Ontario is so important. It reflects the desire of the government – and of the Franco-Ontarian community – to maintain the vitality of the French presence in Ontario and preserve the contribution of the French-speaking population’s cultural heritage for future generations.

The recommendations in this report are intended to ensure not only that the five per cent target for Francophone immigration to Ontario is met, but also that the demographic weight of Ontario’s Francophone population remains at five per cent. Our goal is to increase the number – and the percentage – of Francophone immigrants to Ontario (people from other countries) and in-migrants (newcomers from other provinces).

Nearly 70 per cent of Francophone immigrants to Canada outside Québec choose to settle, live, work and prosper in Ontario. They will not all be counted in the five per cent of landed immigrants, but they will all count toward the number of Francophones living and thriving in our province.

Surpassing the target

The success of initiatives aimed at meeting Ontario’s five per cent Francophone immigration target goes beyond merely achieving a number. Ensuring that five per cent of landed immigrants are Francophones is not sufficient. It is imperative to ensure that Francophone newcomers are integrated and retained in Ontario’s Francophone community, and that they are able to succeed and thrive. They need to be welcomed in French and have the opportunity to contribute to their adopted community. Ultimately, it comes down to a sense of belonging as a Francophone in Ontario.

As such, the recommendations in this report go beyond the goal of achieving five per cent Francophone immigration to Ontario. Collaborative relationships with the Francophone community and with other levels of government will be required to attain – and surpass – Ontario’s five per cent target.

Lastly, it is clear that the provincial government cannot reach and surpass these objectives on its own. The recommendations in this report thus frequently refer to partnerships and the enhancement of best practices. The Franco-Ontarian community is committed to working with the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration – and with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada – to maximize Ontario’s Francophone immigration potential with a goal to increase the vitality of our dynamic community. Together we will surpass our expectations.

Members of the Group of Experts on Francophone Immigration

The members of the Group of Experts on Francophone Immigration represent various sectors, regions and areas of expertise, including community groups, employers, municipalities, academia, and students.

Alain Dobi (Co-Chair)
Director, Central-Southwestern Francophone Immigration Support Network

Peter Hominuk (Co-Chair)
Executive Director, Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario

Caroline Andrew
Director, Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa

Rym Ben Berrah
Co-Chair, Regroupement étudiant franco-ontarien

Brigitte Duguay-Langlais
Coordinator, Francophone Immigration Support Network of Eastern Ontario

Christian Howald
Project Coordinator, Northern Ontario Francophone Immigration Support Network

Didier Marotte
Executive Director, Centre communautaire francophone de Windsor (Place Concorde)

Jacqueline Noiseux
Executive Director, Association française des municipalités de l'Ontario

Valerie Sniadoch
Director, Employability and Immigration Programs, Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité – La bonne affaire

Government Ex-Officio representatives:

Richard Lecours
Manager, Operations, Integration – Ontario Region, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Suzanne Skinner 
Manager, Business Immigration and Selection Branch, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration

The Group of Experts wishes to acknowledge the invaluable work of Arianne M. Matte and Soojin Yu, policy advisors in the Immigration Policy Branch, MCI, who ably supported the Group and made it possible to meet our deadlines. Thank you Arianne and Soojin! We are also grateful for the skilled assistance of Maryse Lemoine, Senior Research and Data Analyst, Office of Francophone Affairs.