October 17, 2023

A new law to encourage Francophone immigration in Canada

Canada, known for its multiculturalism and linguistic diversity, has recently passed a groundbreaking law that underscores the significance of the French language in the country. Bill C-13, an amendment to the Official Languages Act (OLA), represents a significant step towards prioritizing francophone immigration and supporting francophone minority communities outside Quebec. By recognizing the threats faced by the French language and emphasizing its protection, this law aims to enhance the demographic weight of Francophone communities while fostering linguistic diversity across Canada. In this article, we will explore the critical aspects of this new law and the measures introduced to encourage and support francophone immigration


Modernizing the Official Languages Act

The Official Languages Act is a federal statute that established English and French as the official languages of Canada. However, the new law, Bill C-13, represents a significant modernization of the OLA, acknowledging the challenges faced by the French language as an official language of Canada. Divided into three parts, the law brings immigration within the purview of the OLA, demonstrating its importance in maintaining the vitality of the French language. The first part introduces amendments to the Official Languages Act, the second part regulates the use of French in federally regulated private businesses, and the third part outlines the legal applications of the legislation.


Importance of Francophone Immigration

One of the most notable provisions of the new law is the recognition of the crucial role of francophone immigration in sustaining Francophone minority communities outside Quebec. The law introduces immigration into the Official Languages Act for the first time, signifying the government's commitment to prioritize francophone immigration as a means to protect and promote the French language. This recognition is vital as Francophone minority communities have been experiencing a decline in their demographic weight in recent years.

The law mandates Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to develop a francophone immigration policy with clear objectives, targets, and indicators. This policy aims to ensure that francophone immigration contributes to maintaining or increasing the demographic weight of Francophone communities across Canada. By actively encouraging and supporting francophone immigration, the law seeks to address the challenges faced by these communities and promote the vitality of the French language.


Enhancing Services and Access to Justice

In addition to emphasizing the importance of francophone immigration, the law also addresses the need for better access to services and justice in French. It grants individuals working in federally regulated private businesses in Quebec or French minority communities outside Quebec the right to work and be served in French. This provision aims to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for Francophones in the workplace.

Furthermore, the law mandates that all judges appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada must be bilingual. This requirement aims to improve access to justice for Francophones, ensuring that they have equal opportunities and representation within the legal system. By promoting bilingualism among judges, the law fosters linguistic diversity and enhances the overall quality and fairness of the Canadian legal system.


IRCC's Commitment to Francophone Immigration

The new law aligns with the long-standing commitment of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to support Francophone immigration outside Quebec and provide French settlement services. In 2019, IRCC launched the Francophone Immigration Strategy, which encompasses a range of initiatives aimed at attracting and integrating French-speaking immigrants across Canada.

Under the strategy, additional points are allocated for French-speaking and bilingual candidates in the Express Entry system, enhancing their chances of being selected for immigration. Temporary dedicated streams are also introduced for French-speaking and bilingual candidates as part of the pathway from temporary residence to permanent residence for essential workers and recent international graduates already in Canada.

To facilitate settlement and integration, the funding for francophone service providers has been expanded. With close to 80 service providers now available, settlement services in French are more accessible, aiding the successful integration of French-speaking newcomers.

IRCC is currently developing a new policy on Francophone immigration that will establish more substantial admission targets for francophone immigrants outside Quebec. This policy reflects the government's commitment to address the decline in demographic weight experienced by Francophone communities and reinforce the efforts to attract French-speaking immigrants to Canada.


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