CIMM – Opening Remarks for the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada - Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) – February 17, 2022

Francophone International Students

February 17, 2022


Good morning, everyone.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging that I am joining you from the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabe people.

Francophone international students are a key source of talent to help support Canada’s future economic growth and counteract the country’s aging demographic and shrinking labour markets. They also strengthen our ongoing efforts to reach the target of 4.4% French-speaking immigrant admissions by 2023.

It is enormously important for potential students – and for our country – that the Government of Canada and IRCC ensure each application is treated fairly and without discrimination.

Refusal Rates

I want to assure members of the Committee that all applicants are always given the opportunity to provide documents and any other relevant information to support their application. A decision is made only after all factors have been considered.

Among the requirements for study permit applicants is to show that they have the financial resources to pay for their studies and support themselves in Canada. Applications from non-genuine students and the submission of fraudulent documents are also major concerns.

We’ve been taking steps to address this issue, and IRCC engages in outreach with partners and at public events around the world to explain our visa requirements.  In Particular, we’ve been working closely with the Quebec bureau in Senegal and Morocco to promote studies in Quebec for prospective students from West Africa and the Maghreb.

We have a proud tradition of welcoming students in our country, and we’ve put in place various initiatives to improve programs and application outcomes for students.

Internal Bias/Racism

IRCC has already taken a number of steps to make real and lasting change within the department, to ensure our actions speak louder than our words. This includes a task force dedicated full-time to eliminate racism in all of its forms at IRCC.

Following IRCC’s first anti-racism employee survey, the department brought in an external firm to facilitate focus groups with our employees to take a closer look at their experiences of racism and bias in the workplace. The resulting report raised some concerns, and provided us with a suite of recommendations that we’re proactively addressing.

We have zero tolerance for racism or discrimination of any kind, but that’s not enough. We must actively fight racism and continue to work tirelessly to foster a culture of inclusion, openness, diversity and respect.

We have also started to explore potential bias in our policy and program delivery. Much of this work is being done internally, but we are also engaging external stakeholders on how to identify and address systemic barriers, as well as training employees.

Francophone Immigration

Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to frame our efforts to open doors to Francophone International Students as part of a larger push to increase opportunities for French-speaking and bilingual newcomers and immigrants to settle in and contribute to communities throughout the country.

Francophone and bilingual immigration is key to our future, and we advance this priority at every opportunity. In 2020, French-speaking admissions represented 3.6% of all immigrants admitted to Canada outside Quebec, in comparison to 2.8% in 2019.

Last year’s Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident program received more than 2,300 applications from the two streams dedicated to French-speaking essential workers, and approximately 4,700 applications for the stream dedicated to French-speaking international graduates.

Immigration is a shared jurisdiction and at least 7 jurisdictions have a Francophone target or PNP stream dedicated to attracting Francophone and bilingual talent.

Significant efforts are made every year in Francophone countries to promote and attract Francophone students and immigrants to Canada, and those efforts will continue.


To conclude, I want to again assure members of the Committee that the Government is committed to an equitable application of immigration procedures, in all of our programs.

We will continue to assess all study permit applications from around the world against the same criteria, on the individual merits of each case.

Thank you, Chair. My colleagues and I would be pleased to answer the Committee’s questions.

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