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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



Immigration forms part of the social, economic, and cultural development of Canadian society. It has also proven to be a significant factor in the development of French-language communities outside of Quebec, because it can be a source of revitalization for the Francophone population, language, and culture in Canada. In fact, for these communities and for the federal government, the settlement of French-speaking newcomers in Francophone minority communities has become an important objective, indeed a priority.

This is evident in the creation, in 2002, of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada-Francophone Minority Communities Steering Committee, which was given the mandate of developing strategies to increase the number of French-speaking immigrants in Francophone minority communities2 and to facilitate their reception and integration1.

In September 2006, the Steering Committee released the Strategic Plan To Foster Immigration To Francophone Minority Communities, which set out the challenges of, and strategies associated with, immigration to minority communities . This document is but one example of the importance that the government places on integrating French-speaking immigrants in Canada.

Outside of Quebec, Ontario has the greatest number of French-speaking people. New Brunswick has some 236,100 Francophones, who represent 33% of the province’s population. Ontario has twice this number, with a population of 578,045 Francophones who represent approximately 4.8% of the total population. Thus, Ontario is the province with, potentially, the greatest number of communities able to welcome French-speaking newcomers.

According to the 2006 Census, immigrants represent approximately 20% of the total population of Canada and 28% of the population of Ontario; 2.8% of immigrants in Ontario are French-speaking.

However, numbers alone are not enough to facilitate settlement for newcomers; tools and strategies are also needed. The literature on Francophone immigration reviewed in this document has uncovered several elements that may be used to meet the needs of immigrants and organizations interested in facilitating their integration into Canadian society, particularly into Francophone communities.

Below, we present the results of a survey of the literature on Francophone immigration to Canada. First, a general overview of the 151 documents that were reviewed is provided, then special emphasis is placed on documents published in the last five years, i.e., since 2005, that directly concern Ontario or regions of Ontario.

Documents Reviewed

A total of 151 documents published between 1998 and 2010 were reviewed, including government reports (47), scientific articles (45), and studies produced for community organizations (35) or organizations in the broader public sector (16). The remaining eight articles mostly came from the Metropolis network . An Excel database submitted to the Ministry presents the titles, authors, years, and abstracts (when available) of these documents.

Thematic Analysis

In the literature on Francophone immigration to Canada, we identified 10 major themes. The integration of newcomers is by far the most common theme in the articles surveyed. Studies on economic integration and social integration represent close to 60% of the literature on Francophone immigration to Canada, followed, in order of frequency, by demographic portraits or profiles, children and schools, criminality and violence, immigrant women, health, language skills, working with minorities, and interprovincial mobility.

Table 11 presents the number of documents in each of the 10 themes found in the 151 documents reviewed, according to the main theme addressed. Each document has been assigned a single main theme.

Table 11 – Categories of Themes Identified – Review of the Literature – Canada – 1998 to 2010
Themes Number of Documents %
Economic and Labour Market Integration 48 32%
Social Integration 38 25%
Demographic Portraits and Profiles 23 15%
Children and Schools 15 10%
Criminality and Violence 8 5%
Immigrant Women 7 5%
Health 4 3%
Language Skills 3 2%
Working with Minorities 3 2%
Interprovincial Mobility 2 1%
Total 151 100%

The fact that half of the documents on social and economic integration come from institutions in the public or broader public sector is indicative of the importance that governments place on the issue of the integration of newcomers. In contrast, the fact that only 20 of the 86 documents on this issue are academic documents attests to the lack of university research in this field.

Of the 151 texts surveyed, 44 date from the past five years and focus primarily on the situation in Ontario or in a specific region of Ontario. For example, some studies are on Toronto or on northern Ontario. Most (20) of these 44 articles were published by an institution in the public or broader public sector. University research accounts for 25% of the documents. In addition, a significant percentage of the literature presents information on existing policies and resources, rather than the results of research or studies (see Office of the Fairness Commissioner, 2010; Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, 2009; Office of Francophone Affairs, 2006; Government of Ontario, 2009). What emerges from this survey of the literature on the situation in Ontario is the need for scientific studies on the integration of Francophone newcomers into French-language communities.

In terms of a thematic analysis, we noted the same trend in the 44 articles written in the past five years in Ontario as in the texts for Canada as a whole. Social and economic integration represented over half of the documents surveyed (see Table 12). Once again, this is indicative of a marked interest in facilitating the integration of immigrants.

Table 12 – Themes of Articles on Ontario Published over the Last 5 Years
Themes Number of Documents %
Social Integration 14 32%
Economic and Labour Market Integration 12 27%
Demographic Portraits and Profiles 9 20%
Working with Minorities 3 7%
Criminality and Violence 2 5%
Children and Schools 2 5%
Health 2 5%
Total 44 100%

Moreover, certain themes seemed to be limited to documents of a national scope whereas others were more provincial in their focus. The themes of immigrant women, language skills, and interprovincial mobility were only found in documents relating to Canada. Some documents that were national in scope contained information specific to different regions of the country or emphasized differences between provinces.


As indicated above, 10 themes were identified: economic integration, social integration, demographic portraits and profiles, children and schools, criminality and violence, immigrant women, health, language skills, working with minorities, and interprovincial mobility. Some themes were found only in documents relating to Canada. Of the 44 articles on Ontario (2005 to 2010), only seven of the 10 themes were found. In this section, we present a summary of the information found in the literature, according to each of the themes in the 44 articles.

Social integration

Social integration is the most prevalent theme in terms of the number of articles and documents in the literature on Francophone immigration to Ontario. The focus is primarily on the way in which communities and organizations can adapt to a new clientele in order to offer improved settlement services to newcomers. The profile of immigrants has changed significantly in recent years (Madibbo and Labrie, 2010; Diallo and Lafrenière, 2007). The clientele of community organizations, which was previously more homogenous and of French-Canadian and European extract, has become more diverse geographically and socially, with a range of cultural practices, languages, and identities (Madibbo and Labrie, 2010). As a result, these organizations need to transform themselves and reformulate their strategies to more fully support integration.

Labrie (2008) notes that organizations that serve the French-language community in Ontario have transformed themselves over the past two decades to accommodate these demographic changes. The author notes the effect of multiple identities and linguistic practices on the participation of ethnic groups in Ontario’s French-language community. Other authors examine the transformation of structures of integration (Diallo and Lafrenière, 2007). Yet others are still attempting to identify strategies for integration developed by immigrants and by the host society to adapt to these demographic changes (Madibbo, 2005).

We also find strategies and measures for the integration of immigrants as proposed by government institutions. In particular, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (2008) presents the first Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA). Its overall goal is to support the successful social and economic integration of immigrants in Ontario […] Newcomers are welcomed and fully integrated into Canadian and Ontario communities; Newcomers are engaged and participate in all sectors of Ontario/Canadian society — economic, social, political and cultural; Ontario/Canadian society and communities benefit from the contribution of newcomers.

Lastly, the literature surveyed also contains a number of reports from conferences, forums, and workshops (for example, Côté, 2006; Réseau de soutien à l’immigration francophone - région Centre-Sud-Ouest de l’Ontario, 2008; Jangles Productions, 2009; Centre francophone de Toronto, 2009). These reports summarize discussions held during conferences on the accessibility and availability of services. Special attention is paid to the challenges and prospects for the future, as well as the management of settlement resources. These reports touch on the themes raised by the research findings presented above, i.e., that services must be adapted to meet the needs of a changing clientele.

According to the literature, in order for social integration to take place, organizations that serve the immigrant population must adjust to the needs of the clientele and the community. To illustrate this, we refer to Madibbo and Labrie (2010), who offer the example of [unofficial translation] “a centre that has adapted to social changes and globalization by transforming itself […] into a settlement centre that offers services to a linguistically diverse clientele from Francophone countries around the world.”

Economic integration

Economic integration is another major theme in the literature on Francophone immigration to Ontario. Recognition of training received outside of Canada is a common topic: the social integration of immigrants is a function of their ability to enter the labour market and, therefore, of the recognition of their foreign credentials.

It is important to note that, despite its significance in the literature, not one of the 12 documents on economic integration was written by an academic. Rather, these publications consisted of government reports, community studies, reviews of registration practices and access, and a survey of the literature on foreign-trained health professionals. Publications that touched on the theme of economic integration tended to be generic texts that, for example, describe the regulations on the recognition of credentials and the resources available to immigrants (Office of the Fairness Commissioner, 2010).

The field of health is an exception. It is the only area to receive special attention: of the 12 documents on economic integration, four provided information on foreign credentials. Two of these documents were produced by the Office of the Fairness Commissioner, and touch on enrolment practices and processes for accessing professions.

In the other texts, we noted a significant number of reports and guides prepared with the goal of eliminating barriers to employment and helping immigrants to find work. These texts were primarily from government sources (Côté, 2010; Consulate General of France in Toronto, 2009; Ministry of Education and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, 2010).

Overall, the literature surveyed on the theme of economic integration demonstrates the challenges associated with a lack of recognition of education, training, and experience acquired outside of Canada. Most of the texts are guides or summaries of the regulations designed to provide information on enrolment practices and processes for accessing professions. There is a gap in the scientific and academic literature which, if filled, could shed light on the situation for Francophone newcomers in Ontario and their integration into the labour market in terms of their training, credentials, and areas of specialization.

Demographic portraits and profiles

The greatest number (5) of profiles and portraits come from government: two of these five documents offer portraits of Francophones in Ontario as a whole (Corbeil and Lafrenière, 2010) or in a specific region of the province (Ontario Trillium Foundation, 2007). The other three focus on immigrants in three specific urban areas (Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa). The latter were prepared by Strategic Research and Statistics at Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The other publications are from academe (3) and the community (1).

Of particular interest in the two documents that present profiles of the Francophone population in Ontario is their definition of Francophone population. The Ontario Trillium Foundation document examines demographic, economic, and social trends in the Francophone population in Algoma, Cochrane, Manitoulin, and Sudbury (ACMS) using the Inclusive Definition of Francophone (IDF) proposed by the Office of Francophone Affairs in 2009. Legault also uses this new definition in a profile of Francophones in Ottawa written in 2008. Corbeil and Lafrenière (2010) explain the history of the concepts used to identify and count Francophones, from first language learned and still understood (mother tongue) to First Official Language Spoken (FOLS).

Generally, the statistical profiles appear to have been developed, among other reasons, to support the implementation of strategies for the development of services and for the design and evaluation of programs.

Working with minorities

The three documents on the theme of working with minorities were prepared by community organizations; they focus especially on working with Francophone immigrants in Ontario. There is an acknowledgement that this type of work requires that the worker first understand that he or she is an ambassador for a culture and be capable of identifying personal and professional cultural references such as values and ethics, the preferred clinical approach, the associated methods of intervention – basically everything that affects the therapeutic relationship (Regroupement des intervenants francophones en santé et en services sociaux de l’Ontario, 2008).

This type of work requires training that has been adapted to an ethnically diverse context.

Criminality, children, and health

Some themes found in the literature did not attract a lot of attention. “Criminality and violence”, “children and education”, and “health” were the subject of only two documents each.

In one document on family violence, Hashi (2009) sought to pinpoint the existing challenges and needs in the delivery of French-language services for women who are members of Francophone racial and ethnic minorities. Another document on family violence presents the results of a study on immigrants’ perceptions of the criminal justice system.

On the theme of children and schools, one document provided a summary of a project submitted to the Canadian Council on Learning and Citizenship and Immigration Canada in which the author (McAndrew, 2009) examines the results and pathways of immigrant youth in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Another document presents a portrait of child poverty in Ontario.

The two documents on health focus on working with immigrant populations and the need for intercultural training in order to adequately serve these populations.

The literature on Francophone immigrants would benefit from a greater number of publications on these three themes and other themes. The themes of children and education, family violence, and health all warrant special attention from government and research communities.


Our survey of the literature reveals that the themes of social integration and economic integration seem to be the priority for researchers and governments. On the national level and on the provincial level, the literature indicates the extent to which integration into the host community is a function of economic integration.

Our survey also reveals that, in this day and age, working with immigrants requires training that is adapted to an ethnically and linguistically diverse clientele.

Lastly, we note that governments are interested in immigration and are investing financial and organizational resources in immigration. However, a deeper level of interest on the part of research communities, in particular universities, would contribute to our understanding of this phenomenon.

1The strategic plan, published in November 2003, presents the Steering Committee’s mandate and its five objectives

2See http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/settlement/plan-minorities.asp

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