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Final Report: Research on Settlement Services Available in French for Francophone Newcomers to Ontario

STUDY CONDUCTED FOR THE ONTARIO Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration

AUGUST 12, 2011


Table of Contents

Executive Summary
List of Tables
1. Mandate
2. Organization of the Report
3. Demographic Analysis
4. Review of the Literature
5. Survey of Settlement Service Organizations
6. Finding of Our Interviews with Service Providers
7. Findings of Interviews with Francophone Leaders
8. Findings of the Focus Groups
9. French Language Bridge Training Programs
10. Summary of Research Findings
11. Conclusion: Further Avenues for Research
Schedules


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

ANALYSIS OF SETTLEMENT SERVICES AVAILABLE IN FRENCH FOR FRANCOPHONE NEWCOMERS TO ONTARIO

STUDY CONDUCTED FOR THE ONTARIO Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration

JULY 15, 2011

Mandate

This report has been prepared in response to a request for proposals from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI). The mandate of our study was as follows:

Demographic analysis

The study presents a demographic analysis of Francophone immigration to Ontario (2006 Census), based on the criterion of First Official Language Spoken (FOLS), which is similar to the Inclusive Definition of Francophone (IDF) used by the province of Ontario, as opposed to the Mother Tongue (MT) criterion. Using the FOLS criterion, there are a total of 96,010 Francophone immigrants in Ontario, compared with 36,980 using the MT criterion. This represents a difference of 259% ((96,010/36,980)*100). While these data are somewhat dated, they are still useful as they depict general trends. The highlights of the demographic analysis are as follows:

Review of literature on Francophone immigration to Ontario

The study inventoried a total of 151 documents published between 1998 and 2010. Of these, 48 (32%) deal with economic integration issues, and 38 (25%) address social integration issues.

Survey of settlement service organizations

The survey inventoried 189 organizations offering a variety of immigrant settlement services in Ontario. These organizations can be classified into four categories:

Our research identified 95 social and cultural organizations associated with Francophone immigrant communities. About 40 of these are well-established, with their own websites, offices and organized staff. We also identified 32 Christian places of worship in immigrant communities, offering services in French as well as in English and a few other languages. We inventoried a total of 137 mosques in Ontario, but were unable to determine the languages used. We also identified nine French-language media outlets associated with immigrant communities.

Interviews with settlement service providers

The firm, in concert with the Ministry, chose 41 service providers for interviews; in total, 33 were reached and 15 completed the interview. Eighteen indicated they could not participate in the research for various reasons, primarily because they serve few francophone immigrants. All of the respondents indicated that Francophone immigrants face two major hurdles: language barriers stemming from a lack of proficiency in English, and difficulty entering the labour market. They also noted that these two hurdles are closely related. Our interviews with Francophone community leaders confirmed these two major challenges.

Findings from focus groups

A significant portion of our research budget was used to convene nine focus groups, involving 147 individuals from various regions of the province, to ensure that the participants represented a cross-section of different segments of Ontario's Francophone immigrant communities. Given that the focus groups generated qualitative data, we could not draw conclusions applicable to the entire population. Rather, these data reflect the viewpoints of randomly selected individuals with regard to their settlement experiences in Ontario.

Almost half of the participants in our focus groups indicated that in order to get established, they relied mainly on assistance from family and/or friends already living in Ontario, as opposed to settlement organizations. These participants were very satisfied with their project to immigrate to Ontario.

About 50% of the focus group participants tended to be more dissatisfied than satisfied with their immigration project. In particular, they were very dissatisfied with the labour market integration services they received. They reported that sessions they attended on resume writing and job-interview preparation did not help with their job searches. Currently, these individuals still do not have jobs or have found short-term or unstable employment. In their view, the concept of newcomer settlement support services constitutes a best practice in the immigration system, but governments must review with service organizations the quality of services and the delivery models used.

Strengths

Our research identified three strengths relating to Francophone newcomer settlement in Ontario.

1. The ability of Francophone immigrant families in Ontario to integrate by themselves, relying on the advice of friends and family already residing in the province, is one of the strengths identified during our study. These people did extensive groundwork prior to arrival, poring over the Government of Canada and Government of Ontario websites. On their arrival, they devoted the necessary time to learn English, becoming sufficiently fluent to use English at work. They took courses to obtain Canadian credentials, and they now feel well-integrated into Canadian society after three, four or five years here. Other participants were recruited by employers and immigrated to Canada as skilled workers. They are particularly happy in Canada, notably because their Francophone employer arranged housing and is supporting their efforts to have their families join them. They receive excellent settlement services from the local Francophone organization, and they are telling others in their native country how positive their experiences have been to date.

2. Overall, participants were very satisfied with the educational services available for immigrant children in French-language schools, in both the public and Catholic school boards. In general, French-language schools seem to be a determining factor of successful Francophone immigration.

3. Another strength lies in the number and relevance of cultural, social, sports and religious organizations operating in Francophone immigrant communities. These organizations receive no government funding, but they play an important role in the lives of their members and adherents. The focus group participants felt that Francophone immigrants sometimes have a tendency to gravitate only toward these organizations, and in so doing fail to establish sufficient ties with the broader community.

Weaknesses

Our research found four weaknesses relating to Francophone newcomer settlement in Ontario.

1. The most evident weakness brought to light in our research was, without question, labour market integration. This problem was reported by focus group participants as well as key respondents from service organizations.

2. A second weakness identified in our study concerns English language training. Most of the respondents were very dissatisfied with the availability of English language courses and the teaching methods used.

3. A third weak point concerns the counselling and support given by organizations offering newcomer settlement services. Participants in six of the nine focus groups found that staff members in these organizations do not provide effective guidance and coaching, create a dependency on their services or direct them towards social services rather than the workplace.

4. Family pairing programs, which match newcomers with Canadian families or long-established immigrant families, are well-viewed by those who have participated in them. The weakness stems from the fact that there are too few such programs aimed at Francophone communities in Ontario.

Best practices

Our research identified five best practices.

1. In Northern Ontario, an employer recruited Francophone workers from abroad through the Destination Canada program. The young men hired practise a trade for which there is currently a labour shortage in Ontario. The Francophone employer arranged housing for them and is supporting their efforts to bring their families to Canada. Contact interculturel francophone de Sudbury, the local settlement organization, is well attuned to its community, and is providing settlement services for these workers. As a result of this partnership, these immigrants are very happy in Canada and are spreading the word in their country of origin to recruit others to Canada.

2. The London-Sarnia branch of the Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario (ACFO) has successfully co-located various settlement and employment services for Francophone immigrants in its area. This approach has created a one-stop outlet for services in French in a region with a relatively small Francophone population.

3. The "Opportunities for All" program introduced by RDÉE Ontario (economic development and employability network) provides useful training for Francophone immigrants wishing to start up their own business. The participants acknowledged the value of these services, but noted that they lack access to microcredit funding to help launch their individually or family-operated small business.

4. The "Settlement Workers in Schools" program is in itself a best practice. The benefits of the program were mentioned on several occasions during our research. The fact that the program is up and running in 66 French-language schools across the province is proof of its success. Certain workers noted that their offices are located on school premises, which makes their work more effective and facilitates greater contact with students.

5. Bridge training programs also constitute a best practice. Key respondents from institutions indicated that the success rate is about 80%, which means that 80% of participants find and retain a job after completing their program. Considering the resources invested per participant, one would expect a high success rate. While these programs are relatively recent, they appear to be well-designed and well-delivered.

Further avenues of research

The mandate of this project was to identify emerging issues surrounding Francophone immigration to Ontario, and not to make recommendations. Our findings point to other avenues of research that should be explored to gain a better understanding of these issues.

Definition of Francophone immigrant

Further research is required to get a more accurate indication of the number of Francophone immigrants in Ontario and of the realities they face. The federal and Ontario governments use different definitions to identify Francophone immigrants, which yield very different results. The discrepancy between the two is significant and has a public policy impact, given that the funds allocated for newcomer settlement are based on number of users. The data indicate mainly the number of immigrants settling in Ontario. It is harder to obtain published data on the number of Francophone immigrants who leave Ontario.

Recruitment of Francophone immigrants

There are few initiatives in Ontario aimed specifically at recruiting Francophone immigrants. Our review of the literature suggests that the recruitment of immigrants, Francophone and non-Francophone, will become an increasingly pressing issue over the next few years. The Provincial Nominee Program holds significant potential for Ontario's Francophone communities. It would be useful to explore more fully the best practices that could be implemented to recruit Francophone immigrants to Ontario.

The role of community organizations and public and semi-public institutions in Francophone newcomer settlement

Input from our focus groups led to an important finding: about 50% of the participants felt they had successfully established themselves from all points of view, with little recourse to the services of community groups. Instead, they had relied on the advice and support of family and friends throughout the settlement and integration process. Our research indicates that a certain number of Francophone immigrants require specialized services soon after they arrive in Ontario. The organizations these individuals are likely to consult include government agencies providing specific statutory and regulatory information, municipalities offering local economic development strategies, school boards and post-secondary institutions delivering educational services, and semi-public institutions like health centres. These specialized services are normally outside the scope and capacity of community organizations. A useful avenue of research would be to examine the outcomes achieved by organizations providing services to Francophone immigrants to measure the effectiveness of services in facilitating individual integration, in particular economic integration. A systematic study would be able to chart the progress of Francophone immigrants through the settlement, integration and inclusion process and identify key areas in order to align public funding for maximum impact on individuals.

Performance of English language training programs

A significant proportion of the participants in our study indicated that they were not satisfied with their English language learning experience. Almost all of the settlement service organizations we consulted confirmed that English language training is a major challenge. Given the growing number of Francophone immigrants in Ontario, it would be advisable to conduct a study on the effectiveness of the methods used to teach English and the accessibility of these programs for Francophone immigrants.

Challenges of economic integration

Our study found that economic integration is the overriding issue for a certain proportion of Francophone immigrants. Moreover, our research seems to indicate that this issue is beyond the capacity of community settlement organizations. This would suggest there is a need to rethink public funding strategies aimed at supporting immigrant economic integration and the approaches used. Existing models do not appear to be achieving the desired outcomes. Further research would be required to shed more light on this issue.




List of Tables

Table 1 – Profile of Francophone Immigration in Ontario – 2006 – First Official Language Spoken

Table 2 – Profile of Francophone Immigration in Ontario – 2006 – Mother Tongue

Table 3 - Comparison between Mother Tongue and First Official Language Spoken – 2006 – Number and Percentage of Francophone Immigrants in Ontario

Table 4 – Worldwide Sources of Francophone Immigrants – 2006 – First Official Language Spoken

Table 5 – Worldwide Sources of New Francophone Immigrants – 2006 – First Official Language Spoken

Table 6 – Francophone Immigrants and Age Groups – 2006 – First Official Language Spoken

Table 7 – Francophone Immigration by Period of Immigration from 1961 to 2000 and Projection for 2001-2010 – Ontario – First Official Language Spoken

Table 8 – Francophone Immigrants by Census Division – Ontario – 2006 – First Official Language Spoken

Table 9 – New Francophone Immigrants by Census Division – Ontario – 2006 – First Official Language Spoken

Table 10 – Francophone Immigrant Population as a Percentage of the Total Immigrant Population – Ontario – 2006 – First Official Language Spoken

Table 11 – Categories of Themes Identified – Review of the Literature – Canada – 1998 to 2010

Table 12 – Themes of Articles on Ontario Published over the Last 5 Years

Table 13 – Settlement Workers in Schools Program, Distribution in Ontario’s French-Language Public and Catholic Schools - 2010-2011