CIMM - Modernization of the Official Languages Act - June 2, 2021
The Government of Canada proposes to amend the Official Languages Act to recognize the importance of the contribution of Francophone immigration to the vitality of French and Francophone minority communities. The document also proposes to include an obligation for the Government to adopt a policy on Francophone immigration to support the vitality of the official language minority communities.
Other initiatives to modernize and strengthen the Official Languages regime are proposed, including setting up a new Francophone immigration corridor aimed at recruiting French-speaking and French-language teachers to address the shortage in Canada and as a way to support and enhance opportunities for newcomers to learn French.
IRCC is working in close collaboration with Employment and Social Development Canada, Labour and the provinces and territories to address foreign credential recognition issues for newcomer French teachers across the country.
Canadian Heritage is responsible for the reform of the Official Languages Act (OLA). As part of this exercise, a reform document proposes significant legislative and regulatory amendments and a number of administrative initiatives to modernize and strengthen the Act.
As part of the proposals, the reform document seeks to amend the OLA to include the obligation for the Government of Canada to adopt a policy on Francophone immigration, as well as to provide supports and services for Francophone minority communities.
The reform document also includes the proposal for the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to set up a new Francophone immigration corridor aimed at recruiting francophone and French-language teachers – for immersion and second language programs, and for French-language education – to address the shortage of French-language teachers in Canada, particularly outside of Quebec.
The Department is in contact with, and will continue to work with federal departments, including Canadian Heritage, and provinces and territories to advance these commitments.
Supporting facts and figures
The modernization initiatives propose to recognize the importance of the contribution of Francophone immigration to the vitality of French and Francophone minority communities, to include an obligation for the Government to adopt a policy on Francophone immigration and to use immigration as a lever to support sectors key to the vitality of official language minority communities. This aligns with the work IRCC has been doing through IRCC’s Francophone Immigration Strategy, launched in March 2019, as well as the Francophone Integration Pathway, part of the Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future.
In addition, the Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) Action Plan includes mechanisms for increasing Francophone immigration outside Quebec. The plan is one that governments can implement in collaboration with stakeholders to improve the promotion, selection, settlement, integration and retention of French-speaking immigrants in Francophone minority communities.
Under the Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future, IRCC is investing $40.8 million over 5 years:
$36.6 million for initiatives supporting the consolidation of the Francophone Integration Pathway (e.g., Welcoming Francophone Communities Initiative, language training and capacity building in the Francophone settlement sector)
$4.2 million for the development of horizontal policies on Francophone immigration, the official languages governance and federal-provincial / territorial collaboration.
In the summer of 2018, the Prime Minister mandated the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, Minister Joly, to undertake a review of the OLA with the aim of modernizing it. Between March and May 2019, Minister Joly met with Canadians from across the country to hear their perspectives on modernizing and strengthening the Act. This national conversation culminated with a national symposium in May 2019, in Ottawa, to highlight past achievements, strategize for the future and celebrate both official languages.
In the Speech from the Throne (September 2020), the Government made its steadfast commitment to modernizing and strengthening the OLA through a range of measures, taking into account the unique reality of French in Canada.
On February 16, 2021, Minister Joly tabled in the House of Commons the reform document entitled “French and English: towards substantial equality of official languages in Canada”.