Speaking notes for the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship: Promoting Francophone immigration outside of Quebec

Speech

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.

Delivered January 16, 2024, in Caraquet, New Brunswick

Thank you for the introduction, Serge.

Good morning.

I want to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on the ancestral, unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. We pay our respects to the First Nation ancestors of these lands and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

I’m pleased to be here with the Honourable Serge Cormier, who has faithfully served the people of Acadie Bathurst for many years. And I’d like to thank Caraquet Town Hall for hosting us today.

As a Montrealer, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to visit the town of Caraquet and be surrounded by French speakers in Canada’s only officially bilingual province.

Throughout Canada’s history, the Francophone and Acadian communities here have shown great resilience, thanks to their pride in their heritage and determination to see it not only endure, but evolve.

Welcoming French-speaking newcomers is a fundamental part of this evolution. These communities have been greatly enriched by the different cultures and skills newcomers bring.

Canadians understand the importance of immigration for our economy. But, as New Brunswick’s example proves, it’s also a good way to nurture and diversify the communities we live in.

The Government of Canada’s five-year Official Languages Action Plan, announced last April, has Francophone immigration as a key priority. We’re investing more than $137 million over five years to support this Action Plan.

I’m here to announce the next steps the Government of Canada is taking to grow and support Francophone minority communities—in collaboration with other federal departments, the provinces and territories, and community stakeholders such as yourselves.

Working in partnership will be essential to achieving our shared goals.

Building on our efforts to date, IRCC is launching a new Francophone Immigration Policy that will guide my department’s actions towards promoting the economic development and enhancing the vitality of Francophone minority communities across Canada.

This policy outlines concrete, ambitious and innovative actions we will take in the short, medium and long term, which will enable progress towards restoring and increasing the demographic weight of Francophone and Acadian communities.

The measures my department will advance include enhanced promotion and recruitment efforts, both in Canada and abroad, and the implementation of a new program and measures dedicated to Francophone economic immigration.

Because growing Canada’s economy must also mean increasing the prosperity of all Francophone communities.

In addition, the new Francophone Immigration Support Program will fund innovative projects to increase Francophone immigration. This initiative will make immigration programs more accessible, with a view to increasing the number of French-speaking candidates selected, to better meet the Francophone and bilingual labour needs of various sectors of Canada’s economy.

This program will be led by the Center for Innovation in Francophone Immigration, located in Dieppe.

Support services will be offered to Canadian stakeholders and employers to assist them in navigating the immigration system and connecting with these talent pools.

Express Entry has become a main pathway for attracting French-speaking and bilingual newcomers with in-demand skills. It accounts for half of all French-speaking permanent resident admissions outside Quebec since 2018.

And with the launch of category-based selection this past June and the establishment of a French-language proficiency category, IRCC is now even better able to target French-speaking immigrants.

We are taking further steps to increase opportunities for these newcomers to settle outside Quebec.

That starts with renewing and expanding the Welcoming Francophone Communities Initiative.

14 communities across Canada will continue to receive funding to help French-speaking newcomers build their lives there.

Between January 2020 and June 2023, more than 4,000 French-speaking permanent residents settled in these communities.

A key focus is ensuring that settlement services are coordinated and delivered by Francophones already established in the community, to help build trust and create lasting bonds with the newcomers they serve.

We will therefore continue to support organizations in delivering high quality settlement services, including funding enhanced language training and developing a strategy to support French-speaking immigrant women.

We’re also setting up a corridor for the recruitment abroad of French-speaking teachers at the primary and secondary levels, in order to encourage them to immigrate to and settle in minority communities across Canada.

I’m pleased to report that, as of last December, we surpassed the 4.4% target for French-speaking permanent residents that we committed to maintaining in 2023.

Based on available data, we reached 19,633 admissions, representing 4.7%, between January and December of 2023.

We intend to keep building on this momentum.

As we announced in the Multi-Year Levels Plan in November, we aim to admit 6% of new immigrants in Francophone minority communities in 2024 … 7% in 2025 … and 8% in 2026.

These targets are ambitious, but we believe they’re also realistic and achievable.

IRCC has done what we set out to do for the past two years. We can do even better in the future.

With the new policy and measures—and with the support of our partners here in New Brunswick and across the country—I’m confident that more French-speaking newcomers will be drawn to communities outside Quebec, where they’ll be welcomed and supported in all their diversity, so they can flourish and make long-lasting contributions to Francophone life in Canada.

Thank you for coming today.

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