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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


10.1 Quantitative Findings

The following quantative findings are based on the demographic analysis and information found on websites.

10.2 Qualitative Findings

Our qualitative findings are based on discussions with 188 persons, 147 of whom were chosen randomly to take part in one of nine focus groups in different regions of the province. Thirty-three of these are individuals working in organizations that offer welcoming and settlement services. Eight are leaders of Francophone organizations.

10.2.1 Strengths

The research identified three strengths, where the welcoming and settlement of Francophone immigrants in Ontario are concerned.

1. According to the research, Francophone immigrant families are very capable of becoming integrated by themselves, relying on advice from more established family members and friends. Approximately 25% of focus group participants had never heard of welcoming and settlement services in French or in English. Approximately 20% reported that they used welcoming services only a few times but had not needed to go back. These individuals were primarily looking for information on their community. Approximately 50% of focus group participants indicated that they had received help with settlement from more firmly established family members and/or friends who had settled in Ontario before them. They reported that they were very satisfied with their immigration process. They prepared themselves well in their country of origin, studying the websites for Canada and for Ontario. When they arrived, they took the time to learn English and spoke it well enough to use it at work. When necessary, they had gone back to school to obtain Canadian equivalencies and, after three, four or five years in the country, they now felt that they were well integrated.

2. The participants expressed a high level of satisfaction with the educational services that are offered to immigrant children in French-language schools, whether public or Catholic. Generally, the French-language schools are a determining factor in the success of Francophone immigration.

3. Another strength identified by the research is the number and relevance of cultural, social, athletic, and religious organizations in Francophone immigrant communities. These organizations do not receive government funding; however, they play an important role in the lives of their members and congregants. Participants in the focus groups reported that Francophone immigrants sometimes had a tendency to limit themselves to the activities of these organizations and were not creating ties with the broader community.

10.2.2 Weaknesses

The research identified four weaknesses in the area of welcoming and settlement services for Francophone immigrants in Ontario.

1. Clearly, the greatest weakness identified by both focus group participants and key respondents from organizations is the difficulty that Francophone immigrants encounter in entering the labour market. Approximately 50% of participants in focus groups reported that they had participated in numerous workshops on employment and had attended discussion groups on employment at the invitation of settlement organizations. When sharing their experience of preparing a résumé, their frustration was palpable. They reported that these activities did not help them with their job search. To date, they do not have a job or are under-employed. This anecdotal evidence echoes the findings of various studies on this topic reported in the media in recent years.

2. Another weakness identified by the research was English language training. Most of the respondents expressed major dissatisfaction with the availability of English language courses and the methodology used. They shared their own personal experiences, but were unable to shed light on the causes of this challenge.

In undated research entitled Helping Newcomers Unlock Their Potential (see http://www.td.com/economics/special/ca0909_literacy.pdf), TD Bank Financial Group published data confirming the challenges Canada must address in teaching English to immigrants. This research analyzed the limitations of the LINC program (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) and offered some possible causes.

The mandate for this research project and the resources allocated to it do not allow us to explore this issue for Francophone immigrants in greater depth. During the research, we found hundreds of Ontario websites, including many that promoted LINC programs. In some cases, we found poor translations that may make the situation difficult for Francophone immigrants. For example, the English version of one LINC website in a region with several thousand Francophone immigrants indicates that clients must bring the original copies of their immigration documents. On this website, the term "landed immigrant" on the English version of the website had been translated as "immigrant clandestin" [illegal immigrant] on the French version. These are small irritations; however, when combined, they create a negative impression.

The participants in the focus groups indicated that they were disoriented and had difficulty navigating the eligibility criteria for language courses. Different programs had different criteria, including citizenship status, mother tongue, and employment situation. These eligibility criteria determine whether an individual must pay for a language course. One observation that can be made is that these participants do not know the criteria for admission to language courses, in particular, English language courses.

In order to work in Ontario, one must speak English. The 2006 Census confirms this4. In Ontario, 28% of workers whose mother tongue is French never use French at work; 25% use English regularly or most often at work, although they do use French. Only 9% of workers use only French at work. In the Greater Toronto Area, 46% of workers whose mother tongue is French never use French at work; 15% use English regularly or most often at work, although they do use French. Only 4% use only French at work.

It is reasonable to conclude that there is a connection between these two challenges. Language difficulties in English no doubt have a major impact on access to paying jobs in the labour market. Key respondents from the colleges confirmed that a lack of English language skills negatively impacts the placement of Francophone immigrant students in work terms (which are primarily English-language in southern Ontario). This then negatively impacts their placement in the labour market.

3. A third weakness concerns the advice provided to newcomers by settlement services. Participants in six of the nine focus groups reported that the staff of welcoming and settlement organizations did not accompany them effectively. Their most common complaint was that settlement workers encouraged them to go on social assistance because they believed that these immigrants were not bilingual enough to get a job and if by chance they got a job, it would not pay enough. The research was unable to validate this claim. We consulted social assistance services in Ottawa on this matter. Their response was that the system provides for an in-depth assessment of the person's situation and level of employability before they are referred to social assistance.

4. Individuals who took part in a program that matched them up with a Canadian family or with an immigrant family that was well-established in Canada reported that they like the program very much. The weakness is that there are few such programs for Francophone immigrants in Ontario. The research did not enable us to determine why this is so.

10.2.3 Best Practices

The research identified five best practices.

1. One employer in northern Ontario recruited Francophone workers overseas to participate in the Destination Canada program. The young men in question had a trade for which there was a shortage of skilled workers in the province. The Francophone employer organized housing for these workers and supported their efforts to bring their families to Canada. Contact interculturel francophone de Sudbury, the local welcoming and settlement organization, has many connections in the community. This organization provides settlement services for these workers. The partnership ensures that these workers are very happy in Canada. These immigrants then start recruiting other workers in their country of origin to come and settle in Canada.

2. ACFO de London-Sarnia successfully brought together several different welcoming and settlement services and employability services for Francophone immigrants in the London-Sarnia region. This made it possible to concentrate French-language services in a region that has few Francophones. Half of the individuals who attended the focus group in this region reported that they had found work thanks to the services offered at this organization's employment resource centre.

3. RDÉE Ontario has a program called La bonne affaire [Opportunities for All]. It offers good training services to Francophone immigrants who want to start a business. Participants reported that they liked the services but added that they did not have access to microcredit funding to start their sole proprietorship or family business.

4. The Settlement Workers in Schools Program is in itself a good practice. The impact of this program was addressed on several occasions during the research. Parents who are aware of this program reported that they appreciated the services their children and, by extension their families, had received. The school support workers supervise young immigrants who are already part way through the immigration process so that they, in turn, can support the integration of newcomers into the school. The fact that the program is already operating in 66 French-language schools in the province is an indication of its success. Some workers reported that they have offices in the schools, which makes their job easier and is conducive to contact with the students.

5. Bridge training programs are a best practice. Key institutional respondents reported that the success rate was in the order of 80%. In other words, 80% of participants succeeded in obtaining and holding a job after participating in these programs. Given the level of investment per participant, such a high success rate is to be expected. Although they are recent, these programs appear to be well-structured and well-delivered. All of the bridge training programs offered in French welcome small number of Francophone immigrants in the province.

Other than the best practices described above, few other best practices were noted by the research. This can be explained by the fact that Francophone welcoming and settlement services are a very recent phenomenon. In many cases, Francophone services have been offered for less than two years. Practices have not yet had a chance to mature, unlike the services offered in English in the Ottawa region, for example. In some cases, Anglophone organizations have been offering welcoming and settlement services for over 30 years. This has enabled these organizations to refine their practices and even to choose where to locate their offices in order to facilitate access for immigrants. Different organizations such as the YMCA and the Catholic Immigration Centre are located on the same street. The participants in some focus groups reported on how handy this was because they could visit both services in a single trip to the city centre.

In other provinces, the Francophone community has created a welcoming and settlement service for immigrants and refugees. In Manitoba, this service has been in place for over seven years. There is already evidence of some interesting best practices. For example, Accueil francophone has a system where Francophone immigrants and refugees are met by staff at the airport. The community has also created interim housing for Francophone immigrants. It should be noted that Manitoba receives 400 to 500 Francophone immigrants per year and that most settle in Winnipeg. As a result, it is relatively easy to organize these services within such a well-defined area.

4See http://www.statcan.gc.ca/bsolc/olc-cel/olc-cel?catno=97-555-XWE2006037&lang=eng

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