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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


Participation in Interviews

Together with MCI, we identified 41 organizations offering welcoming and settlement services that we would approach for interviews. The goal was to determine how many Francophone immigrants were served by these organizations, the strengths and challenges involved with these services, and suggestions for action steps. The organizations identified are in all parts of the province. They represent a sampling of small and large organizations and offer a wide range of welcoming and settlement services.

Of these 41 organizations:

The interview questionnaire was emailed to all of these groups, along with a letter of introduction prepared by MCI. There were three follow-up telephone calls to each organization, including one before the mailing and two after the mailing, if necessary. We communicated in English with the five organizations that do not offer services in French. With all of the other organizations, we communicated in French because they had indicated that they offered services in French.

Of the 41 organizations targeted, we were successful in reaching representatives of 33 organizations in person. The findings are as follows:

Observations from our Interviews

All seven Francophone organizations participated in the research. Of the 29 organizations that stated that they offered services in French, six participated in the research and answered the questions primarily in French. None of the five English-only organizations participated.

Year in which Organizations were Founded

Most Anglophone organizations were founded in the 1970s or 1980s or introduced immigrant programs during these decades. The Francophone organizations were founded more recently, for the most part in the late 1990s or introduced immigrant programs around the year 2000. Generally speaking, Francophone organizations and programs were established 15 to 20 years after Anglophone organizations and programs.

Number of Francophone Immigrants Served

The Anglophone organizations reported that the number of Francophone immigrants they serve is minimal. Some were very specific, indicating, for example, 18 individuals out of 740. Others gave an approximate number, for example 20% of the 2,000 individuals served. Yet others reported that they did not compile statistics for their programs as a whole.

The Francophone organizations reported that the overwhelming majority of clients served are Francophones. The precision of their data varies; some organizations were very precise. One reported that it had received 182 immigrants in the past 12 months. Others were less precise, reporting that the number was somewhere between 600 and 1,000.

As a result, it is difficult to provide an exact figure for the number of Francophone immigrants served by the 15 organizations that participated in the research. The approximate number is 6,000 individuals per year: 2,000 in Toronto, 2,500 in Ottawa, 1,200 in the London-Windsor corridor, and 250 in Sudbury. We should also assume that an individual may be helped by more than one organization in a given city.

We do not know the year in which these Francophone immigrants arrived in Ontario. As a result, it is not possible to draw conclusions about the total percentage of recent Francophone immigrants who use French-language services. However, we can conclude that the overwhelming majority of these 6,000 individuals use the services of the seven Francophone organizations.

Types of Services Offered and Knowledge of Services

The 15 organizations offer a wide range of welcoming and settlement services, which include:

We noted an interesting fact: eight of the 15 organizations offer to pair newcomers up with Canadian families or with immigrant families who have been in Canada for a long time. Some reported that this program was very important for newcomers. Others reported that, due to budget restrictions, they had had to discontinue this program. Our research did not make it possible to determine why this type of initiative succeeded or failed.

All of the organizations have websites, distribute flyers, and participate in immigration networks. Most report that Francophone immigrants hear about them through friends and families that have used their services in the past.

Country of Origin and Characteristics of Francophone Immigrants

All of the organizations reported that the overwhelming majority of Francophone immigrants served are of African origin and either from North Africa or from sub-Saharan Africa. A few mentioned Haiti and Europe. Some of the immigrants they serve do not speak English or French; these are often relatives of immigrants who do speak French.

Most of the Francophone immigrants served are young, i.e., 44 years of age or younger. While there are no specific data, it appears that approximately 30% of Francophones served are either sponsored refugees or asylum seekers. Sudbury is the exception; here, a large percentage of the clientele is made up of post-secondary-level students.

Main Challenges Faced by Francophone Immigrants Served

All of the respondents reported that the Francophone immigrants they served found accommodation. There were certain challenges, in particular, signing a lease without references and paying rent. The respondents were aware of agencies that specialized in this field and could refer immigrants to them if necessary.

All of the respondents were of the opinion that Francophone immigrants face two major hurdles: language barriers caused by their lack of knowledge of English and difficulty entering the labour market. The respondents reported that these challenges were closely connected.

The other challenges identified were cultural adaptation and family adaptation to Canadian customs. The respondents reported that successful economic integration made cultural adaptation and adaptation to Canadian customs much easier.

Actions to be Taken to Promote the Integration of Francophone Immigrants

All of the respondents gave the name of other Francophone organizations to which they referred clients. These included French-language school boards, Collège Boréal, La Cité collégiale, health centres, day care centres, housing services, legal aid clinics, and cultural organizations. In some regions, respondents reported that there wasn’t a Francophone centre nearby, and that they had to refer the few Francophone immigrants they served to English-language services in their city. This situation is quite rare.

Respondents suggested the following actions to promote the integration of Francophone immigrants.

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