Immigrants’ ability to fully participate within Quebec society is directly linked to the language issue. On the one hand, Quebec expects immigration to contribute to the vitality of French, regardless of the mother tongue of those who choose to settle here. On the other hand, immigrants’ contributions to economic prosperity depend on a command of the common working language in a context where the job market often puts French and English in competition with one another. It is therefore imperative to ensure that these two objectives meet and reinforce each other through effective, diversified and accessible francization services throughout Quebec.
Mother tongue and the language spoken at home are imperfect indicators of the vitality of the French language, as they do not take into consideration francization among immigrants who, without abandoning their mother tongue, learn French and use it fluently. A recent study by the OQLF on projections of certain linguistic characteristics of Quebec reveals that the mastery of French among all Quebecers should continue to remain at 90% in 2036. While this number is encouraging, we believe that there is reason to continue efforts to propose new measures, in particular to ensure better francization for newcomers.
Since 2018, the funds transferred by the federal government as part of the Canada-Quebec Accord on immigration and the admission of temporary workers and students have increased by more than 90 million dollars, and currently total $650 million dollars annually. These significant investments, which are earmarked for immigrants’ linguistic and professional integration, provide Quebec with all the room for manoeuvering they need to be able to support a vast and ambitious francization effort.
Furthermore, we know that francization is considerably hampered by a lack of qualified teachers. Francization institutions are therefore no longer able to meet demands and a significant portion of their clientele finds itself on a waiting list, and their integration slows. We believe that we must also consider access to training and the working conditions of teachers who are too often subject to a temporary and precarious status. Given current and future needs, including the efforts that must be deployed to meet the workforce shortages and with our proposal to offer free French courses to all who need or want to better master the French language, the demand for these teachers will only continue to grow, thus creating permanent status for them is necessary.
We therefore propose to:
Enhance and strengthen the use of the Programme Accompagnement Québec, whose mandate is to coordinate the reception, francization and the professional, social and cultural integration of immigrants in synergy with the vast network of community organizations in this sector, particularly with the objective of providing a global linguistic and cultural offer to newcomers;
Increase investments in francization, including by encouraging the development of francization initiatives in the workplace;
Undertake the necessary steps to address the shortage of French second language teachers.
The proposals we are advancing are the result of thorough reflection following several consultations.
In order to undertake this process, we first identified the fundamental principles that should guide us. It was important for us to identify the foundations upon which all Quebecers of all origins could readily unite and rally.