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Ottawa must increase its French-speaking immigration targets, according to a parliamentary committee

Photo: Spencer Colby The Canadian Press In order to “rebalance the demographic weight of Francophones in Canada”, the federal Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller, must “recognize that the current rate of Francophone immigration is not sufficient”, we can read in a report.

The new French-speaking immigration targets are “not sufficient,” warns the Standing Committee on Official Languages, which recommends that Ottawa raise its objectives without encroaching on those of Quebec.< /p>

In order to “rebalance the demographic weight of Francophones in Canada”, the federal Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller, must “recognize that the current rate of Francophone immigration, set respectively for years 2024, 2025 and 2026 at 6%, 7% and 8% is not enough,” we read in a report tabled in the House on Thursday.

The Committee believes instead that the federal government should comply with the demands of the Fédération des Communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) du Canada by increasing “its rate to 12% in 2024” and by “gradually reaching a rate of 20% in 2036”.

Since the modernization of the Official Languages ​​Act in June 2023, the federal government has committed to restoring the demographic weight of Francophone minority communities to what it was in 1971, i.e. 6 .1%.

Last November, Minister Miller said he was “ambitious” in announcing his new targets, given that Ottawa reached for the first time in 2022, “with difficulty”, its French-speaking immigration target, set to 4.4% in 2003. “A target of 6% keeps us in decline. At 8%, we are roughly in stability, but certainly not in growth,” reacted the president of the FCFA, Liane Roy.

Better serving French-speaking Africa

The Committee also recommends that IRCC seek “solutions to the fraud problems plaguing source countries of French-speaking immigration”, particularly in Africa, where “scammers […] pose as legitimate recruiting agents.”

“Fraud in acceptance letters from Canadian institutions and in bank documents sent” are, along with “the difficulty of knowing if students […] are really going to study in Canada” and personal finances, the “three main reasons refusal” of study permit, according to IRCC.

Lawyer Roger Pichette, who was heard by the Committee, pleads for the “causes for refusal [to be] more descriptive and detailed”. The director of Accueil francophone du Manitoba, Bintou Sacko, speaks of “arbitrary refusals” and “systematic rejections”.

The “acceptance rate of study permits granted to French-speaking students from Africa […] is generally lower than elsewhere”, recognizes IRCC in the report, while claiming to have taken “ certain measures” to remedy this.

Harm Quebec targets

The former director of planning for the Quebec Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration, Anne-Michèle Meggs, believes that Ottawa's measures aimed at increasing French-speaking immigration outside Quebec “are harmful to achievement of Quebec's objectives, despite the sharing of powers between the two governments.

According to her, by not having capped the number of Francophones eligible for the defunct temporary residence to permanent residence pathway program, Ottawa “could have encouraged Francophones in Quebec to move outside Quebec to present their application for permanent residence”, a phenomenon that “there is no need to encourage”.

Ms. Meggs also judges that the federal government should adjust “the costs associated with obtaining permanent residence for candidates who choose Quebec”, because the files are already taken care of by the province, and that “the federal government has to only job to check health check and criminal record.”

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) “continue to consult” his Quebec counterpart “on any initiative […] which could have effects on the government's objectives of Quebec in matters of immigration.”

Revise the French test

According to the report, the French Assessment Test for Canada, which may be required to access permanent residence, “represents an obstacle” to obtaining it.

Developed in France, it represents a level of difficulty that is too “high” for many candidates, and registration is “expensive,” witnesses reported. Furthermore, “a passing score is only valid for a period of two years, while the procedures for obtaining permanent residence may take longer.”

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“We must ask ourselves whether the tests meet the needs of those who must take them,” declared the Commissioner of Official Languages, Raymond Théberge, quoted in the report.

Without commenting specifically on immigration targets and its relations with Quebec, IRCC wrote to Devoir“favorably” welcome the Committee’s study. “We are reviewing the report and its recommendations to determine the best path forward,” the ministry added in an email exchange.

The federal government must respond to the report's recommendations within 120 days of its presentation, as provided for in the rules of the House of Commons.

This report is supported by the Local Journalism Initiative, funded by the Government of Canada.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116