Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 6 - Evidence - Meeting of April 28, 2014
OTTAWA, Monday, April 28, 2014
The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages met this day, at 5:01
p.m., to continue its study on the impacts of recent changes to the immigration
system on official language minority communities.
Daniel Charbonneau, Clerk of the Committee: Honourable senators, as
clerk of the committee, I must inform you that neither the chair nor the deputy
chair is available to attend today's meeting. Therefore, it is my job to oversee
the election of an acting chair. I am ready to receive motions to that effect.
Do I have any motions?
Senator McIntyre: Yes, in the absence of the chair and deputy chair, I
nominate Senator Fortin-Duplessis as acting chair.
Mr. Charbonneau: It has been moved by the Honourable Senator McIntyre
that Senator Fortin-Duplessis serve as acting chair. Is it the pleasure of the
honourable senators to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Mr. Charbonneau: I invite Senator Fortin-Duplessis to take the chair.
Senator Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis (Acting Chair) in the chair.
The Acting Chair: Honourable senators, I call this meeting of the
Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages to order. I am Senator Suzanne
Fortin-Duplessis from Quebec and I would ask the senators to introduce
themselves, starting on my left.
Senator Chaput: Maria Chaput from Manitoba.
Senator Robichaud: Fernand Robichaud, Saint-Louis-de-Kent, New
Senator McIntyre: Paul McIntyre from New Brunswick.
Senator Poirier: Rose-May Poirier from New Brunswick.
The Acting Chair: We are continuing our study of the impacts of recent
changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities.
The purpose of today's meeting is to question the researchers who have
studied the issue as well as a community stakeholder involved in this type of
Our witnesses today are Nicole Gallant, Professor-Researcher from the INRS,
Urbanisation Culture Société, joining us by video conference; Ibrahima Diallo,
President of the Table nationale de concertation communautaire en immigration
francophone; and Tracey Derwing, Professor in the Department of Educational
Psychology at the University of Alberta. Following your presentations, the
senators will ask you questions. Please go ahead, Ms. Gallant.
Nicole Gallant, Professor-Researcher, INRS Urbanisation Culture Société:
Thank you very much for inviting me to appear before the committee. I would like
to take this opportunity to encourage you to step back, if you would, and
compare how English Canada and French Canada view the ideal immigrant
integration model, with a specific focus on how Canada's anglophone communities
define linguistic duality as it relates to francophone communities.
You have my brief summarizing what I have to say. Though I will begin by
talking a bit about Canadian multiculturalism and much more about the dominant
vision of linguistic duality in English Canada, please understand I am obviously
making a generalization. Fundamentally, the two notions have been around since
the Trudeau era, when they were introduced with a focus on the importance of
individual freedom. The purpose of the state under that view is to provide a
context for this freedom to exist and be protected. Cultural integration is
perceived as an individual choice; individuals decide whether to retain the
traditions of their home country, and that is a choice they have to make.
Linguistic duality is perceived as a matter of equality between languages, and
therefore language practices are also seen as an individual choice, made by each
and every person separately rather than collectively by a community. From a
public policy perspective, equality between languages rather than communities
prevails. In concrete terms, that public policy means the state has an
obligation to provide services in the language chosen by the individual. It is a
matter of making services available in a given language.
Why does this approach not serve immigrant integration in francophone
communities outside Quebec well? When the focus is on providing services in
French, one of the main objectives of francophone communities is overlooked, and
that is enabling immigrants to integrate into a French-speaking community by
doing much more than simply providing settlement services in French.
Before I explain why that does not work well for francophone communities more
tangibly speaking, I have a sidebar if I may. It concerns Quebec
interculturalism and particularly the dominant view of linguistic duality in
French Canada, both in Quebec and in francophone minority communities, because
it centres, not on individual freedom, but on the notion of community, in this
case, a language community.
The role of the state is to ultimately protect the community even if that
means restricting some individual rights and freedoms. Under Quebec's style of
interculturalism, cultural integration happens interculturally, meaning between
cultures, and so immigrants interact with an existing community, in the case of
Quebec, a francophone one. Immigrants are therefore encouraged to integrate into
that community and participate in public life, which takes place in French.
In Quebec, that has resulted in a certain number of laws that impose
restrictions. And these restrictions have traditionally been difficult for
English Canada to understand, precisely because its laws put protection of
individual freedoms above that of the community and language. Most of the
policies in question govern language in schools, parents' obligation to send
their children to French-language schools and, obviously, commercial signage.
I am only touching on this, but this type of immigrant integration model is
not applicable to francophone communities because people cannot conceive of
protectionist laws like these in the absence of a government to implement them.
And francophone communities outside Quebec do not have their own government.
While they do have associations that represent them, they are not governments.
Nor is there a place where such policies protecting the French language could
apply in a context where rights are associated with the individual. It becomes
hard to impose a measure requiring francophone immigrants to integrate into
francophone schools. So someone who comes from French-speaking Congo would have
to attend a francophone school, whereas that obligation would not apply to
someone from Nigeria. So it is difficult to apply and not really practical. And
I do not think that is what francophone communities would want either.
Coming back to the first model I am getting to my second point and the little
diagrams I included. I wanted to show that, from our research into the
trajectory followed by francophone immigrants in regions across the country, we
systematically observed the same pattern when services are made available in
French, but provided by organizations that are either bilingual or anglophone.
That has been the dominant federal model until just recently. I think we are
seeing an awakening, and I will come back to that at the very end of my
presentation. On the whole, however, what was happening was non-francophone
organizations who are not very familiar with local francophone communities were
the ones providing French-language settlement services.
And what immigrants have told us is that they find members of the francophone
population to be especially welcoming when they meet them, but francophone
communities do not provide any settlement services, and if they do, immigrants
do not know about them. And as a result, they receive services in either English
or French from anglophone organizations that have no knowledge of the
French-language school system or other French-language institutions. They are
not familiar with caisses populaires or francophone community centres, and it is
not the role of these organizations to know them.
The outcome, then, is that new immigrants learn about English-Canadian
culture in their language classes because they are provided by English-language
organizations. These immigrants have trouble establishing social networks in
French because they are not introduced to the local French-speaking community.
At the end of the day, although these organizations may provide services in
French, the focus is on integration into the anglophone majority; these
organizations cannot offer services to help immigrants integrate into
francophone communities because they do not have that knowledge.
And now for the last part of my brief and my presentation. In the absence of
specific policies governing this type of activity, what we have seen emerge in
various francophone communities across the country is a multitude of
organizations that have started providing that kind of service. This may
constitute a new immigrant integration model, one focused on integration within
the local francophone community.
The little diagram shows how, at the neighbourhood level, a francophone
community agency can help a French-speaking immigrant settle in a neighbourhood
with a higher proportion of francophones, because part of what settlement
service providers do is help people find housing. So, within the neighbourhood,
these organizations provide significant help to immigrants as they undertake
basic activities of community living. For instance, they help immigrants
register for French-language schools, put them in contact with local caisses
populaires or banks, and facilitate their participation in French-language
recreational activities, such as joining a community sports league or soccer
team. All of these activities enable immigrants to build a social network within
the existing local community. In my view, that is the way to promote social
integration and a sense of belonging within the community. At least, that is
what our work has shown.
I am almost out of time, but I wanted to focus on this element because it is
the most important to understand. The importance of intervening at the
community, rather than individual, level may not be immediately obvious to most
people, so I have made a few concrete recommendations.
If I can have just a minute, I want to pick up on the idea that the main
obstacle to the integration of francophone immigrants into minority francophone
communities is institutional practices. The reason is the lack of support for
small, local francophone agencies providing assistance with integration at the
community level. In concrete terms, that means viewing these agencies as groups
that can remain separate and independent from anglophone agencies, within the
same community. For the federal government, it also means devising a distinct
funding model tailored to communities. And that is not easy in a context where
language equality trumps community equality. Approaching services from the
perspective of community equality makes it possible to tailor funding to the
Lastly, it is paramount that these initiatives remain local, because our
social network starts within the community. The various francophone immigrant
networks in every province across the country invest extensive networking
efforts in these local initiatives, in coordination with the Fédération des
communautés francophones et acadienne, or FCFA. That coordination is key to
improve and share ideas and best practices. At the same time, however, the
initiatives must remain at the local level to prevent some centralizing
organization from standardizing practices, because every community is unique.
The Acting Chair: Thank you, madam. Ibrahima Diallo now has the floor.
Ibrahima Diallo, President, Table nationale de concertation communautaire
en immigration francophone: Thank you kindly, honourable senators, for
inviting me to appear before you today. I am the president of the Table
nationale de concertation communautaire en immigration francophone. Our issue
table is relatively young, only launched in the fall of 2013, by the FCFA. It is
part of a new community governance structure for francophone immigration. And
against that backdrop, we work to achieve the objectives set out in the 2006-13
strategic plan and to ensure their continuity.
The role of our national issue table is to identify the challenges and
priorities related to francophone immigration, to align efforts across the
country and to bridge the gap between communities and the Department of
Citizenship and Immigration, or CIC, at the federal level.
Twelve members who represent a wide spectrum of stakeholders make up the
national table, including myself as president. I represent the community on the
committee established by CIC and Communautés francophones en situation
minoritaire, known as the CIC/CFSM committee.
Making up the issue table are Suzanne Bossé, Executive Director of the FCFA,
who leads community governance coordination for francophone immigration, as well
as two executive directors representing national organizations, Jean Léger from
the Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité Canada, and Jocelyne
Lalonde from the Association des universités de la francophonie canadienne and
the Consortium national de formation en santé.
The executive directors of three provincial organizations also sit on the
table: Denis Perreaux, representing Alberta, Daniel Boucher, representing
Manitoba, and Gaël Corbineau, representing Newfoundland and Labrador.
We have two francophone immigration network coordinators, mentioned earlier,
Geneviève Doyon, from the Yukon, and Alain Dobi, from central southwestern
Ontario, as well as a researcher, Christophe Traisnel, of the Université de
And, of course, since we are dealing with immigration, we have appointed two
members representing ethnocultural communities, Moussa Magassa, of British
Columbia, and Franklin Leukam, of Ontario.
Seven of the table's 12 members also represent the community portion of the
CIC/CFSM committee, co-led by the FCFA and CIC.
I should tell you that the table was only launched this past fall and met for
the first time on November 25, 2013, so we have only just begun our work.
That said, however, our activities are aimed at continuing the collective
efforts undertaken by the communities since the early 2000s. We also work
towards achieving the francophone immigration objectives mutually agreed upon by
the communities and the government under the strategic plan to promote
francophone immigration within the communities.
I would like to make a few comments on the recent changes to the immigration
system and the impact they have had on the communities. Right off the bat, I
want to say that the national table and the communities both recognize the new
approach being taken by the government with respect to economic issues and
economic immigration. And they want to pursue those objectives and build on
those efforts, in collaboration with the government, precisely to promote
We have been working to encourage immigration to our communities for more
than a decade, and we continue to play an active role in the new immigration
system. Although the issue table has not yet studied the impacts of the recent
changes on francophone immigration specifically, we did spend a full day, March
13, discussing the related challenges and opportunities, as well as the steps
that both communities and the government need to take.
We identified four priority areas: promotion and recruitment, integration and
enhanced immigration networks, research, and communication.
Now I would like to share some of the observations we made in regard to
promotion and recruitment, in particular. There was unanimous agreement among
the members of the national table that the expression of interest system,
recently renamed Express Entry, needs to include a francophone component. And
that component needs to be in place at the very beginning of the implementation
process, January 2015.
Table members were also unanimous on the importance of stepping up efforts
not just to recruit French-speaking immigrants, but also to promote the
Furthermore, we believe in the importance of establishing the necessary
services and mechanisms to attract more foreign student immigrants to our
francophone communities and encourage them to stay there. Foreign students are
not currently eligible to access CIC's reception and settlement services.
The new system places more emphasis on overseas services. And in light of
that, from an integration standpoint, it is imperative that pre-departure
French-language services be established immediately to give prospective
immigrants a real sense of what our communities have to offer and the
French-language services available.
It is also imperative that French-speaking immigrants be given access to
language training and evaluation, and the opportunity to have their credentials
assessed in French, just like English-speaking immigrants.
With respect to economic integration, we expect some immigrants to have an
easier time entering the labour market. Others, however, will still need
training to upgrade their skills or find a job. To that end, mentorship programs
will no doubt play a key role.
As for strengthening francophone immigration networks, these networks are
crucial instruments in bringing together the francophone immigration
stakeholders in nine provinces and two territories. If francophone immigration
networks are to continue fulfilling their mandate and tackling the challenges
under the new immigration system, communities and governments must work together
to strengthen the networks by investing in supporting tools and mechanisms, and
in reception and settlement capacity.
The research component is also very significant. francophone minority
language communities need access to conclusive data in order to plan activities
and undertake efforts that more effectively support French-speaking immigrants
and their host communities. With that goal in mind, the issue table, together
with the CIC/CFSM committee, would like to set research priorities and improve
research capacity in the area of francophone immigration. And those efforts
should be undertaken on a national scale.
It is our view that research collaborations should be encouraged and that
research efforts should target the full spectrum of needs, as identified by all
the stakeholders: decision makers, community workers and researchers. We also
believe that research findings and data should be shared and circulated more
These are just a few examples of the issues and opportunities stemming from
the recent changes to the immigration system and the impacts on francophone
They also give you a general idea of the projects we are working on, together
with our government partners on the CIC/CFSM committee, including provincial and
territorial stakeholders, whose involvement we believe is paramount.
Certainly, we expect the federal, provincial and territorial governments to
take action, but we also want to work alongside them to achieve our common
objectives and encourage French-speaking immigrants to come to our communities.
In that vein, I fully support the recommendations made by the individuals you
have been in contact with. To conclude, I do, however, want to reiterate the
importance of promoting our communities and stress that the government should
undertake efforts to that end, on both a national and international scale. As we
see it, that is a crucial element. Resources also need to be made available to
help immigrants learn the language spoken by the majority. Bear in mind that our
situation is rather unique. The desire to attract French speakers to francophone
minority communities poses some challenges, and the best way to help them face
those challenges is to ensure they can speak the language of the majority,
thereby facilitating their integration.
Another important consideration, as far as recommendations go, concerns
students and secondary migrants and the services they need access to. I think
that is also important data to have. They represent client groups whose needs
are not being addressed right now. As for the students currently being targeted,
this would be a great way to help expose them to services that could help them
become immigrants and integrate successfully into our communities.
I want to follow up on the francophone dimension I talked about earlier. It
is an essential element. We could even talk about two dimensions so as not to
lose sight of the francophone element and ensure that it, too, factors into the
process for all immigrants.
I will wrap up by touching on the issue of skills and credentials. In terms
of foreign credentials, francophones should have access to the same assessment
tools available in the majority language to ensure they have the knowledge they
need to work in their field with competence and professionalism.
Before I finish, I would like to leave you with an important point. This is
about more than just numbers. That is the reality. We do have targets for
francophone immigrants, but I think this goes beyond numbers because the French
fact is one of this country's underlying values. I believe balance should factor
into all of our efforts to promote immigration: it will bring even more value to
our country because it will make people feel at home here and help them
integrate successfully. They will do more than just contribute to the
francophone community; they will personify one of our country's core values. We
all need to work together to ensure their immigration is successful.
So, in that respect, even though we are talking about economic immigration,
we still need to convince our employers that seeking out francophone immigrants
also enriches us as a nation. This is not just a matter of numbers, but a matter
of values. I will end on that note. I look forward to answering your questions.
The Acting Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Diallo. Now, we will hear
from Professor Tracey Derwing. Ms. Derwing, you have the floor.
Tracey M. Derwing, Professor, Department of Educational Psychology,
University of Alberta: Honourable senators, thank you for inviting me.
I have been asked to speak on recommendations that Erin Waugh and I made in a
2012 overview, the language skills and the social integration of Canada's adult
immigrants. This review focused on immigrant learners of English, but most of
the recommendations apply to learners of French as well. The recommendations
were made prior to the new immigration policies regarding language proficiency
levels but some are all the more important in view of the changes.
The first recommendation was to expand the content and the clientele of the
federally funded language program, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada.
In our own research, former LINC students told us there was an insufficient
focus on speaking and listening skills in their language classes. CIC's own
review of LINC programs identified the same problem. Learners need more support
in developing oral fluency and improved pronunciation skills. Some of the
instruction on grammar, vocabulary and writing might be handled through
e-learning to devote more class time to face-to-face communication, where
meaningful interactions can take place.
We also recommended increased instruction in pragmatics or the secret rules
of language. Pragmatics is the "soft skills" or the culturally determined ways
of saying things. How a person apologizes, makes a request or compliments
someone is affected by what is considered appropriate in a given context. So,
for example, how one refuses an employer's request or what one says to make
small talk will differ radically from one culture to the next.
Some pragmatics instruction currently takes place in higher levels in
language instruction that is funded by the government, and in workplaces, but
more could be incorporated at lower proficiency levels. Organizations such as
the Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council have developed useful teaching
videos for pragmatic content. These materials are necessary, because when
speakers of an official language come to Canada with high enough proficiency
levels of English or French to get a job, they often have insufficient knowledge
of pragmatics to keep the job or to get promoted to a better job. Newcomers
often have limited understanding of the socially determined Canadian workplace
culture, despite high language scores. This promises to become a growing problem
with the new immigration policies. Skilled workers will have the formal language
but not the pragmatics and there will be serious issues in the workplace because
newcomers will not have had any of the diversity training, the pragmatics and
the Canadian sensibilities that are developed in their language courses that are
currently available. We know this already from research out of Manitoba, where
they found that 80 per cent of newcomers who had official language proficiency
before arrival took language training after arrival to function in the workplace
and the community.
We also suggested volunteer programs within the federally funded language
training programs in which language learners are placed in volunteer contexts
where they will get interaction opportunities and perhaps build additional
social capital, along with instructional support from their teachers. Pilots of
such programs are quite promising.
We recommended changing the clientele for language instruction to include
both citizens and temporary foreign workers. Most citizens who were unable to
take language classes during their first years in Canada were working to support
their families or staying home to care for young children. If circumstances
change once newcomers have become citizens, it is un-productive from a social
integration standpoint to deny them language classes. Temporary foreign workers
who have been paying into Canadian social programs should have access to
language classes as well — some provinces provide other supports, but language
should be a priority.
Our next recommendation was to expand the Community Connections program to
increase social integration. Community Connections, which was formerly called
the Host program, pairs newcomers with local volunteers to help establish an
initial social network to give newcomers a chance to practice speaking and
listening and to learn about some cultural norms and traditions while at the
same time the Canadian volunteers gain an appreciation of the newcomer's
experiences. This is a highly popular program but underfunded, and there are
long waiting lists for newcomers to be matched with volunteers. We believe CIC
should survey settlement providers as to how best expand this mutually
We recommended that immigrant parents be included in school districts'
activities to promote social integration. Sometimes parents can't be involved in
their children's school activities because they are holding down two or more
jobs, but whenever possible schools should provide opportunities for parents to
understand the Canadian school system and the values that underlie it.
Next, we recommended that successful initiatives should be shared and there
should be coordination of social integration activities of the provinces,
municipalities and local immigration partnerships through federally funded
conferences. Many strong initiatives are happening across Canada, but we are not
particularly good at sharing this information. It's one thing to post something
on a website, but it's another altogether to be able to hear and see useful
practices and to be able to ask questions in person. The Metropolis National
Conference is still held annually and it's an ideal venue for the sharing of
best practices. We recommend that the federal government continue to support
this conference to disseminate this useful information.
Finally, the most important recommendation of all, but also the most
difficult to coordinate, would be to see the development and implementation of
awareness-raising initiatives for people born in Canada on the benefits of
immigration. Brief training on how to listen to accented speech and brief but
positive encounters with non-native speakers of an official language have been
shown to improve people's willingness to communicate with newcomers. Such
awareness-raising activities can enhance harmony within workplace and
My time is up, so I will stop there.
The Acting Chair: The first senator who asked to speak is Senator
Senator McIntyre: Thank you, Madam Chair. Ms. Gallant, I noticed that
you were a professor at Université de Moncton in New Brunswick prior to 2008. I
hope you enjoyed that experience. I also see that, in 2013, you wrote an article
on cultural diversity, and more specifically, francophone communities in New
Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia.
According to your study, francophone immigration does not affect every
community in the same way. In the article, you say that when members of the
community were specifically asked whether they thought immigrants who had
settled in their immediate neighbourhoods should be allowed to call themselves
Acadian or Franco-Saskatchewanian, community members became a bit more
In your view, is the idea of cultural diversity different in New Brunswick
versus Ontario and British Columbia, or is it the same in all three provinces?
Ms. Gallant: First of all, yes I taught at Université de Moncton for
five years. I was born in Moncton. My father is one of the Prince Edward Island
Gallants. The interesting thing about the research I conducted on New Brunswick,
Ontario and British Columbia, together with Christophe Traisnel and Isabelle
Violette of Université de Moncton, and your comment about
Franco-Saskatchewanians, is that it pertains to research I did on Acadian,
Franco-Saskatchewanian and Franco-Manitoban communities, with the help of
funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
You raise an interesting point. The local definitions of what it means to be
Acadian or Franco-Saskatchewanian vary tremendously from place to place.
Generally speaking, people are very open and receptive to immigration, contrary
to some stereotypes out there. It all comes back to the importance of viewing
initiatives at the local level, as I said earlier. I think the work being done
by the national issue table, as outlined by the representative today, is
instrumental in the sharing of best practices, something Ms. Derwing also
highlighted. But real social integration happens at the local level under
conditions that vary greatly, not just from one province to another, between
French-speaking Saskatchewan and Acadie, which is not a province, but also
within the various communities in each province.
So we observed certain differences in how people defined a true Acadian or a
true Franco-Saskatchewanian. One of the fascinating criteria that emerged only
in French-speaking Saskatchewan, and nowhere else, was the importance of being
active in the community. In French-speaking Saskatchewan, community involvement
is a significant cultural marker that factors into how Franco-Saskatchewanians
define themselves. In other words, integrating into the community successfully
means being active in it, whether you are an immigrant or not. So there are
local distinctions. At the same time, people are very much open to immigration.
The key is to give communities the tools.
Another condition that makes a big difference is the number of immigrants in
the various local communities. In Acadie, some definitions of the Acadian
community are not as influenced by immigrant integration. Proportionately
speaking, given that the francophone community is sizeable, fewer immigrants
settle there and therefore have less of an influence on how locals view the
integration of immigrants. In comparison, 25 per cent of British Columbia's
French-speaking population was not born there. So the cultural diversity is
automatically more natural. That is one of the factors affecting how people view
integration into the community.
The Acting Chair: I would like to ask Mr. Diallo and Ms. Derwing
whether they have anything to add in response to your question.
Ms. Derwing: I think it's important to note that really things do
happen at a grassroots level. I completely agree that there needs to be a
sharing and cooperation at a greater level, but in the end what happens in
individual communities is going to depend on many factors within those
communities. Still, there is a possibility to share best practices across the
Mr. Diallo: It is often said that it takes a community to make an
immigrant feel welcome. And that is an essential component in social, cultural
and economic integration. It takes an entire community and that community must
have the right support to welcome immigrants.
Senator McIntyre: My next question is for all three witnesses. The
government intends to put the expression of interest system in place next year.
As I understand it, the system should serve as a more direct link between
immigrants and employers. And people will apply online.
Under the expression of interest system, Canadian employers will be able to
select immigrants based on the skills they are looking for. The system should
speed up the processing of skilled workers' applications and allow for a better
response to the labour market needs in the country's different regions. New
Zealand and Australia already have similar systems in place.
Would you care to comment on the new system? Mr. Diallo can lead us off.
Mr. Diallo: Thank you very much for that most relevant question.
Indeed, the idea behind the expression of interest system is to seek out
prospective immigrants with skills tailored to Canada's labour market needs. It
is certainly commendable to bring in immigrants who can say they have jobs
waiting for them here. There is no better scenario.
I would, however, like to highlight a few things. The application process
will be done online, but not every one of those people has access to the same
up-to-date technology we have in Canada.
Let us look at the situations in New Zealand and Australia. Whenever we talk
about immigration, we always refer to those countries. The first major
difference, however, is that both of those countries have just one official
language, English. Mind you, Canada has the good fortune, and not misfortune, of
having two official languages. That is precisely why I brought up the whole
issue of the French dimension earlier and the need to incorporate it in our
It is a fact that the majority of jobs in francophone minority communities
are in anglophone settings, over 95 per cent. Consequently, our big challenge
will be urging anglophone employers to seek out francophone workers. That is a
huge challenge. We really need to think long and hard about how to address the
issue so as not to keep making the francophone-anglophone imbalance worse.
Indeed, the FCFA has done a tremendous amount of work. It toured the country
to convince employers of the importance of seeking out skilled workers, even
though they are francophone. As soon as they have the skills, all francophones
have to do is learn the other language, and then they become active members of
Let us consider that aspect for a moment. While it would give certain people
access to Canada, it should not be the only criterion, since we are already
starting off on unequal footing, despite the structure of our economy and
employers. In that context, if a francophone immigrant chooses to settle in a
francophone minority community, employers should not be afraid to hire
Take, for example, employers who hire Mexican workers. Mexicans will never
ask for services in French. Someone from Senegal might ask for French-language
services. And employers are worried about things like that.
How can the government, communities and all the relevant stakeholders
respond? They can ensure that the individual's skills are valued, no matter what
their native language. That is a very important element, and that is what brings
me back to the whole issue of language training, which would give those
francophones a leg up.
Ms. Derwing: First, I have some real concerns for all immigrants in
this database because of the role of the employers. I don't know who and how
carefully all of that is going to be monitored, but I'm very concerned that
employers will be driving immigration even more than they do now. We've already
seen the kinds of problems that have arisen with the Temporary Foreign Worker
Program, and those problems are associated with employers.
I don't know exactly what CIC plans to do to ensure that there are safeguards
for all immigrants in those databases, but I really have serious concerns about
that. I hope they have thought in advance and considered some of the problems
that have arisen with other difficulties that we've seen with employers and
immigration programs in the past.
I also think that, in the case of francophone minorities in smaller centres
outside of Quebec and New Brunswick, they should be allowed to learn English. If
they want to take a job in a location where it's unlikely that there will be
jobs in French, they should be allowed to be welcomed into the francophone
community to be given some services within the francophone community, but to
also be given access to English. I think you've heard from immigrants themselves
who have spoken to this committee and said that they ended up moving to
Saskatchewan and northern Ontario in order to be able to access jobs that were
available in English.
Ms. Gallant: I want to come back to something. It is important to give
francophone immigrants access to language training in both official languages
instead of making them choose only one. For a while, there have been some
restrictions on that, but they may have loosened. That must remain a priority
for these immigrants, so they can acquire English skills for the job market and,
at the same time, take refresher courses in French, even though French is their
mother tongue or a language they can speak. Receiving extra French training
would simply help them become familiar with local dialects and all the cultural
elements that go beyond the ability to speak a language, such as local usage.
What is more, language training in both French and English would provide an
excellent opportunity to teach immigrants about the culture of the host
community in general.
My work focused mainly on integration, as opposed to recruitment, but I do
share Ms. Derwing's concerns about the fact that employers would be in control
of the selection process. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but that is the
idea behind the new measures. As Mr. Diallo pointed out, there is a serious
problem in that connection, because the previous programs in some situations, in
some provinces, such as the nominee program, were tailored and allowed for
community-based selection. In particular, the Fédération acadienne de la
Nouvelle-Écosse had devised some rather innovative practices for selecting the
immigrants they provided support to, in terms of finding a job, choosing their
desired community and so forth. Obviously, use of a standardized employer-led
online system will influence the selection opportunities non-employer groups
have. Ms. Derwing's concerns are relevant to all immigrants and to the equal
opportunity of francophone immigrants and, therefore, to the fundamental
equality of both Canada's francophone and anglophone communities.
The Acting Chair: I just want to let you know that Senator Beyak has
just joined us.
Senator Chaput: My first question is for Ms. Gallant, but I would like
the other two witnesses to comment as well. Ms. Gallant, you made two
recommendations, the first being support for settlement services provided by
local organizations in the host community, and the second being new rules on
language training. We have just talked about the training aspect and official
Regarding francophone minority communities outside Quebec — I will use the
example of Manitoba — you say the following: "Moreover, both English and French
classes ought to be delivered by the francophone community".
Could you elaborate on that and tell us why it is important for a community
that receives French-speaking immigrants to also offer them English courses? In
Manitoba, for instance, the knowledge of English is a requirement for entering
the job market.
Ms. Gallant: The reason English courses should also be provided by
francophone organizations is that, beyond language learning — also, what Ms.
Derwing said about language pragmatism is very important — in language courses,
people learn so much about how Canada works and about Canadian society. The way
people perceive how Canadian society and Canada work depends on the community
they are part of.
So the cultural integration certainly includes the same laws and foundations,
but the interpretation of Canadian history varies from one community to the
next. So integration into the francophone community also goes through learning
about that community's view of Canadian history, the way Canada operates, and so
on. That is the first aspect.
The second aspect has to do with the fact that language courses help people
make friends and meet others they get along with. If francophone immigrants
attended the same courses as anglophone immigrants, the former would create
social connections only with the anglophone community. I am not saying they
should not establish ties with the anglophone community. However, since language
courses are provided over a fairly long period of time in places where
immigrants make their first friends, and those friendships sometimes last a very
long time, it is important to provide those courses in a context where
immigrants are surrounded by other francophones who will eventually integrate
the francophone community. Beyond the language itself, the context courses are
provided in is also important.
Ms. Derwing: I agree to a certain extent with what Ms. Gallant is
saying. I think it's important for francophone immigrants, or immigrants going
into a francophone minority community, to have access to some services provided
by francophone organizations, but I think there's a role for cooperation with
anglophone settlement agencies and so on. The anglophone settlement agencies
could certainly help with advice from the francophone organizations, say on
things like housing. I certainly see a role for cooperation and not a complete
duplication of services.
However, the way I see it, when a newcomer arrives, especially a francophone
newcomer who is in a francophone minority environment, that person has now
become a citizen of that francophone community but also of that city, wherever
he or she is — let's say it's Winnipeg — and that province and that country, our
It's not a matter of belonging to just one community; we're multiple
communities. Everybody belongs to multiple communities, and it's an advantage
for francophone immigrants to have connections. Indeed, some places — in
Edmonton, for instance — the francophone community does offer some
English-language classes to francophone immigrants because they recognize that
if they don't embrace the newcomers, they'll lose them to the English community
I totally agree that it's important that there be a strong, welcoming
opportunity for newcomers to integrate into a francophone community, but I think
there is a strong role for cooperation and collaboration with existing
settlement agencies and other language programs so that immigrants feel they're
a part of the larger community as well.
Senator Robichaud: I would like to ask another question. You say that
English language services or courses could be provided to francophone
immigrants. But would we not lose those immigrants? Would they not join the
majority community? Since they are encouraged to do so, they would no longer be
part of the francophone minority.
Ms. Derwing: No. It's a way to keep people within the francophone
community. I'll just give the example of Edmonton because I'm familiar with it.
Several years ago, we started to receive several francophone immigrants,
primarily refugees, and they started to send their children to the francophone
school system, because we have a separate school system for francophones. There
was somewhat of a rejection of those children, and they ended up having a very
unhappy time. Their parents pulled them out of the francophone system and put
them into French immersion, which is intended for anglophones, but it was
because the public school board was a little bit further ahead in terms of
welcoming diversity and that kind of thing.
If you think about how francophone communities have had to survive in places
like the Prairies, they had to be relatively insular in order to survive. It
took a little while for them to realize that they had to start welcoming new
francophones who looked different, talked differently, were culturally
different, but they had to start welcoming those people or they would directly
push them into the English society. The best way for them to actually maintain
relationships and to pull those individuals into the francophone community would
be to offer them support themselves, including ESL classes, because you can't
survive in Edmonton very easily without knowing English.
The Acting Chair: I think you have a comment to make in response to
Senator Chaput's question.
Senator Gallant: I would like to come back to what Ms. Derwing just
said because that is exactly what I consider to be important. Integration
services in English should be provided by francophone communities themselves.
The Acting Chair: Ms. Gallant, would you be so kind as to comment
after Mr. Diallo, who has been waiting for his turn?
Ms. Gallant: Sorry, I did not see him.
Mr. Diallo: Thank you. This is an existential question: what must be
done to help our immigrants learn English? We have some institutions, even
though we are often in a minority situation. For instance, at the Université de
Saint-Boniface, all of our students have access to English courses and all those
enrolled in professional programs — such as nursing or social service programs —
must be proficient in English to be able to work in the field. That is extremely
University and post-secondary institutions can also offer these types of
courses, but I think the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in
it. As Ms. Derwing said earlier, cooperation should not be overlooked. It is
very important for people not to be limited only to the francophone community,
where it is easier to speak French in the schoolyard. Bridges also have to be
built, so that people can have access to the English community. That is how they
are gradually educated. They would remain in our community, but they would also
establish ties beyond it. To avoid isolation, they should be provided with
opportunities to create connections outside the community.
That is why I see this situation as an anchor, but also as an opening. They
are not mutually exclusive. It would be excellent if we could accomplish this. I
would like to give you a very personal example. My sister-in-law has completed
her business administration program at the Université de Saint-Boniface, but she
is currently attending intensive courses in the anglophone community. The
progress she has made has been fascinating, but she is still part of our
community. These are success stories that should be emphasized.
The Acting Chair: Thank you very much. Ms. Gallant.
Ms. Gallant: I fully agree with what Mr. Diallo just said. This is a
very important issue. Even within francophone communities, people can have
access to that language training in English, which can be provided
collaboratively with anglophone organizations.
Conversely, I would like to come back to a comment made by Ms. Derwing to the
effect that focus should be placed on cooperation and not on a complete
duplication of services in some sectors. She gave the example of housing. That
is one area where it is important not to view that as a duplication of the same
service, but rather as the provision of a different service. Choosing where to
settle is key when it comes to being integrated into a neighborhood, and into a
If a francophone immigrant was alone in a predominantly anglophone
neighborhood — for instance Riverview, close to Moncton — they would have
difficulty integrating social, community, sports and leisure activities
associated with the francophone community, as that would require additional
travel. So they would gradually distance themselves from that community.
However, something Mr. Diallo said is very important. I am talking about the
idea of being able to remain within the francophone community, while being
proficient in English and becoming immersed in the anglophone culture at work or
elsewhere in real-life interactions, but certainly not when it comes to housing.
The location is one of the key aspects of neighborhood integration.
Finally, I am coming back to the idea that, since francophone communities
have been withdrawn for such a long time in order to ensure their survival, it
has taken them a while — as Ms. Derwing pointed out — to reach out to
immigration and open themselves up to diversity. I would actually say that a
tremendous transformation has taken place very quickly in the communities. In
less than five years, associations that represent the francophone community have
completely changed their discourse and are now saying that it is important to
think about immigrants and to reach out to them. Those organizations used to
always refer to immigrants as "them," and in five years, the discourse has
changed to embracing diversity.
This does not mean the change is reflected in the community immediately, but
according to the surveys I have conducted among ordinary people who are not part
of an elite or any associations, community members are already very open.
Senator Poirier: My question is for Ms. Gallant, but it also refers
back to a comment made by Ms. Derwing.
You have studied the role of New Brunswick francophone schools in the area of
diversity. In your opinion, what role do they play and how can they do more to
help new Canadians integrate the community? Ms. Derwing talked to us a bit about
how she sees our school system. Ms. Gallant, have you noted anything different
in your studies, or do you have any suggestions?
Ms. Gallant: There is a little study on the New Brunswick francophone
school and some research on the role schools have played the integration of
families I have met over time.
What Ms. Derwing said about parent integration is very important. We must
keep in mind the various views parents can have of the school's role for their
The problem I noted in my work on New Brunswick schools had to do with the
fact that very few immigrants were enrolling in schools at that time — in 2005
or 2006. We had few parameters to help us decide how children would be
integrated. Very few resources were allocated to help foster linguistic and
individual integration. All that varied greatly from person to person. I am
talking about the very small number of newcomers in New Brunswick.
However, I have a student who just came upon the same phenomenon in Quebec,
in schools that are more accustomed to receiving immigrants. Many of the
decisions made still depend on the individual in question. That is somewhat
problematic when it comes to integration into schools. The teacher's perception
of the student's ability to integrate into higher levels is not always based on
academic criteria. The understanding of the sometimes chaotic background of
immigrants, especially refugees, may be lacking. I think there is a lot of work
to be done in terms of educating teachers about openness to diversity.
Ms. Derwing talked about the general population's ability to be open to new
accents and to take the time to understand that an accent does not necessarily
mean someone's French or English is poor. It is very important to stress that
point and to make those courses mandatory for teachers, so that they would be
better equipped. Even if they receive very few immigrants, those teachers play a
key role in the development of the young individuals who enroll in their
Mr. Diallo: This is an extremely important issue. Let us consider
Manitoba's case. I have heard school principals say that the government brings
in immigrants, but no one has ever told them how they should manage classrooms.
There was something of an imbalance between the immigration flow and the
schoolyard. No school was prepared to receive newcomers, as everything was
I think some efforts have been invested. If there is diversity in the
classroom, an attempt should be made to have some diversity in the faculty. The
system is becoming more open to immigrants working in education. That is
essential for schools. Students have to be exposed to people who resemble them
and can change this dynamic. That diversity should be part of the school
administration in order to reflect the conditions that enable people to see all
The classroom, as it is currently experienced, is completely different. A
young girl came to see me and asked whether I knew a specific individual. I said
I did not. She told me this person was from Gabon. This tiny little girl was
telling me about Africa and was familiar with it.
A silent revolution will take place in our schools and is ongoing. With some
tact and foresight, those people can become citizens open to the world.
I attended the launch of a fundraising campaign organized by two Manitoba
immigrants for a francophone daycare centre. I saw a dozen young people dressed
in Africans clothing.
I think something is happening in terms of diversity. It is important for
that diversity to be able to manifest itself at all levels of school
administration and at universities, as that is where we are headed.
I just wanted to tell you about this, as it is a sign that things are going
well and that the situation will continue to progress.
The Acting Chair: I am going to take the liberty of asking a few
questions. The first is for Ms. Gallant.
In your research, you addressed the ability to include immigrants in Canada's
francophone community. You know that the government is currently carrying out an
immigration reform, where additional points will be awarded for the knowledge of
official languages. Do you think that point system will facilitate the
integration of francophone immigrants?
Ms. Gallant: Because more points are awarded for official languages?
The Acting Chair: Yes.
Ms. Gallant: I think integration does not happen at the selection
level. It happens through the process I talked about earlier, through reception
and settlement services.
As for the selection process, earlier, we discussed selection biases
demonstrated by employers. Of course, I do not think that including additional
points for French-language skills would harm the integration of francophone
immigrants. However, that is far from being enough. I think this element cannot
hurt, but it will not be enough to enhance the integration of francophone
That said, when I talk about inclusion capacity, I am not talking about the
capacity to absorb in terms of numbers, but rather in terms of representation
and openness. As was mentioned earlier, francophone communities are quite
mature. I think the examples given by Mr. Diallo are also very promising.
Senator Beyak: I'm not sure if my question should be to Madam Chair or
to Ms. Derwing, but do we have a copy of her report? I found in northern Ontario
and when I was in Montreal with my mom during Expo '67 that when people feel
secure and not defensive, and they feel as though their language is being
respected, they're more likely to integrate and do exactly as you've said.
You've done a report — May 2012 — that went all across Canada. Do we have
The Acting Chair: I think we will try to obtain it for you.
Ms. Derwing: I can provide that report to you. It's also available on
the IRPP website, the Institute for Research on Public Policy. It's available on
that website, but I can provide the committee with the report.
Senator Beyak: Thank you, Madam Chair.
Senator Robichaud: Mr. Diallo, you talked about credentials that
should be recognized. You were talking about professional skills, right? Did I
understand correctly that it was more difficult for francophone immigrants than
for anglophone immigrants to have their credentials recognized when they arrive
Mr. Diallo: I would say the answer is yes. Ultimately, Canada develops
its programs based on the English system. Canada is part of the Commonwealth.
Even in African francophone countries, the system is based on this model. So, in
terms of structure, it is much easier to determine equivalencies. Nevertheless,
some professional associations are extremely alert. If you have certain
credentials in Africa, recruiters are used to that and would ask you if you are
a pharmacist, a lawyer or a doctor — whether you are educated. Canada needs you.
Clearly, you would sell everything — homes, cars, cows. You would come here, and
professional associations would be waiting for you.
I am not going to go back over everything that has been said about this, even
by the engineers, the aerospace or civil engineers. It is very important that
professional associations can be involved in the process. They have their
legislation and their rules. They want to maintain their standards. When I was
in Africa, I worked in my profession, as a veterinarian. I was told that I could
never succeed in Canada. I was denied a visa to come here. Nevertheless, I
agreed to come, I managed to find my niche and do what I had to do.
In the French system, whether in Europe or French-speaking Africa, it is true
that, if you get 12 out of 20 in mathematics, you have 60 per cent, which is
fine. Here, 60 per cent is barely a C. Things are calculated differently. People
say that you did not have a good average in this and that and it creates an
Now they are starting the alphanumeric system and the LMD system. Francophone
countries are in the process of harmonizing their way of doing things with
anglophone countries so that there is more standardization. It is obvious. If I
take veterinary medicine, for example, if you are not from Canada or the United
States, your degree is not recognized at all; it is as simple as that. There was
a time in Manitoba when more than 50 per cent of the doctors in rural areas were
from South Africa. After apartheid, everyone left; there were openings and they
were accepted. However, it is just South Africa, as far as I know. I have seen
Congolese doctors in Manitoba not able to practice because they studied in
Africa. One Congolese doctor saw one of his students go that route through South
Africa. His student could practice, but he could not. He stayed here for three
years in really dire straits and then went back to Congo, to South Africa. We
will see what happens.
There is a kind of ignorance about the French system; that is because of
habit and because of history. I now think that things will even out; it is good
that francophones, universities in particular and professional associations, are
beginning to provide that recognition.
Ms. Derwing: I just wanted to add that it's not just francophones who
have difficulty with their credential recognition; it's all allophones. Anybody
who comes from another language background is going to have difficulty. That, I
think, is in part because, although we've been talking about it for 15 years,
there has not been a concerted effort made to pull all the players together, all
the stakeholders from the professional organizations and from government, to
work on a way to get credential recognition treated in a much better manner and
to facilitate people's ability to get back into their original occupations.
Immigrants are more than willing to take additional training courses. They
know that things might be somewhat different here in the way we do things.
They're willing to do that, but they need the opportunity. Somebody has to bring
everyone to the table to figure out how the problem of credential recognition
can be solved, because we are squandering people's lives and we are squandering
the wonderful talents of immigrants who come here.
Senator Robichaud: Whose responsibility is it, Ms. Derwing, to bring
Ms. Derwing: I think that decision has to be made by the federal
government, because the federal government is the government that is responsible
for immigration. I think it's their responsibility to bring all the stakeholders
to the table and say: We have to work on this.
We've been talking about it and talking about it. There are research projects
as long as my arm about how we need to have a resolution to the credential
problem, but nobody wants to take it on because it will be a very complex,
difficult thing to do. But in the meantime, we have all these people who are
underemployed. They're working, but they're not working at what they were
trained to do. Maybe the new database is designed to try to do a better
match-up, but I think we will still have real issues with professionals who want
to come to Canada. We should be accepting them. They're people who have great
talents and whose children could make great contributions to Canada.
Mr. Diallo: Ms. Derwing is right, it is not just francophones who face
the barriers; others do too. We also have to remember that, in Canada, there are
even barriers between provinces. If you are a doctor in one place and you want
to practice in another, you have to go through a number of steps. It is the same
thing for lawyers.
This is exactly what I try to tell immigrants who are in complete despair
because the credentials they have acquired elsewhere are not recognized. It is a
Canadian problem, not just in the federal government; provinces, territories,
universities and professional associations too. At some point, people have to
work together. There is nothing more tragic than seeing someone who has left his
country and who is not able to find a place in his profession. I saw a
specialist in nuclear medicine from Germany. He was never able to practice his
profession. He had to start from scratch. The cases of people who are no longer
being used by their countries of origin and are not being used by their adoptive
country either are the greatest immigration tragedy there is.
Senator Poirier: Does a Canadian who has studied medicine, law or
education face the same problems in other countries?
Mr. Diallo: It depends on the country, and the agreements between
countries and professions. When I was young, I had Canadian teachers. My history
teacher was Canadian. It depends, as I said. You cannot judge things that way.
If we are talking about a professional association, if you are a doctor and you
go to France, I very much doubt that you can practice there, just like a French
doctor cannot practice right away in Canada, unless there are ways to arrange
that, as there are in Quebec. It is the same for nurses. A Canadian nurse going
elsewhere will have difficulties, for sure. Countries erect barriers around
themselves, but we know that there are ways to get round them, once you are
there in person. The context can change. What we are asking is to provide the
elements that will allow them to be at the same level of the population they are
called on to serve. We have to find a way to supervise their inclusion so that
they can practice their professions.
Senator Poirier: Is there a program, a short supplemental course, that
immigrants could take that would give them the equivalent of what Canada would
Mr. Diallo: The professional organizations are able to decide that.
You provide them with all your professional experience, your degrees. If at
least they could see the equivalencies and determine what needs to be
supplemented, it would give them access to the talents of people with
extraordinary experience who could contribute to the development of Canada. In
the case of doctors, pathological conditions are a factor.
Previously, in Canadian universities, no one even mentioned malaria.
Especially now, new pathologies are appearing here with new immigrants and
foreign doctors are very well equipped to treat those diseases. That is also the
case with a genetic condition, sickle-cell anemia. Diseases like that are very
common in Africa. Canadian doctors are not trained to treat them and it is
difficult for them.
So I believe that there are talents and skills that could be put to use so
that we can use those resources, especially since our population is changing.
The Acting Chair: Thank you, Mr. Diallo. Ms. Derwing, did you have an
answer for Senator Poirier too?
Ms. Derwing: To address your question about whether Canadians can go
elsewhere relatively easily, you might remember back about 15 years ago we were
really concerned about the brain drain to the United States. A lot of
professionals from Canada were going to the United States because they could get
jobs there; they were more readily available there than here.
Canadians can go to the U.S. relatively easily, and so can immigrants. There
have been immigrants who have come to Canada, professionals who have ended up,
after frustrating stays in Canada, trying to reenter their professions who have
been able to get really good jobs in the United States. The United States has a
much faster, better way of recognizing credentials.
If you were a very good doctor in Italy, you could go to the U.S., but you'll
get refused here.
Senator McIntyre: Ms. Derwing, you put forward the idea of bringing
stakeholders together on this issue of immigration. As I understand your point,
it's important to establish a concerted national strategy touching this issue.
Ms. Derwing: I think so. We've let this go on far too long. It's the
professional organizations, the employers, the provinces, the universities and
the governments — the federal government in particular. I think the federal
government is in the best position, because they have more clout, to pull
everybody together and say, "We have to work this out."
There have been some preliminary pilots in Manitoba. The provincial
government worked with the engineering faculty at the University of Manitoba,
and they made some progress. One province and one profession can't do it all,
but there is a model. I think we should be ashamed of ourselves for inviting
people to come to Canada to make contributions and let them think that they're
going to be able to reenter their occupations and then have them come here and
be underemployed. They still work; they still pay taxes, but they're not living
the life that they were led to think they were going to come to.
Ms. Gallant: I quite agree with what Ms. Derwing said. Since today is
about francophone communities, it is very important for all provinces to come
around the table, including the province of Quebec. Although Quebec has its own
immigration policies in a number of aspects, it has certainly developed
parameters for recognizing prior experience in universities and education
systems based on the French system and on various French-speaking versions
around the world. That addresses the problem that Mr. Diallo raised.
It is true that it is a problem for all immigrants, especially for
French-speaking immigrants. They live in one of Canada's official languages, but
in provinces that are mostly English-speaking, the education systems in which
they were trained are not sufficiently known. It is very important for Quebec to
come to the table in order to share its skills in recognizing prior experience
from the range of French-speaking countries.
Senator Robichaud: I have a follow-up to the follow-up questions. Have
you seen a change in attitude on the part of the professional associations and,
perhaps, the universities, and did the resistance to recognizing foreign
credentials come from there?
Mr. Diallo: The example that Ms. Derwing gave about the engineers in
Manitoba represents a change in attitude. After all, an engineer who is capable
of repairing a Boeing in Dakar is certainly capable of doing it here. We want to
make sure of the social and legislative context, of course, and there are all
kinds of parameters that that adaptation implies. So there are certainly
pathways that allow the adaptation to happen so that people can practice their
It will come. Take disadvantaged areas, rural areas, for example, where young
doctors do not want to go; there comes a point when beggars cannot be choosers
and they will ask for the system to be loosened. That is how 50 per cent of the
doctors in rural Manitoba came from South Africa at one stage. So it is
Ms. Derwing: The attitudes do change once people are brought together.
Another example is the boom times that Alberta has been through. When we go
through a boom in Alberta and there's a real shortage of people to work, that's
a double-edged sword. It's a problem for employers, but then it's a good
opportunity for immigrants because at that time, when we're in the midst of a
boom, immigrants will be more likely to get jobs and do get employed, where they
wouldn't be otherwise.
Companies that work regularly with immigrant employees often start to change
their attitudes because they realize there is a substantial pool of people who
have valuable skills. Some of those skills are unique in that people who come
from other countries, as Mr. Diallo said earlier, have knowledge that some
Canadians don't have and can solve problems that others can't.
I know of an oil company in Edmonton where there was a technique they wanted
to use but it was going to utilize too much water and waste a lot of water. They
had an engineer from an African country — I can't remember which one but one
that suffers drought a lot — and that fellow knew exactly what to do. He
suggested an innovative way to deal with the problem. They would never have
gotten that from a Canadian.
Senator Robichaud: Good for him! I will continue in the next round.
The Acting Chair: Ms. Gallant, do you have anything to add to that
Ms. Gallant: No, thank you.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I really would like to congratulate our three
witnesses. Your presentations, the results of your research and your answers to
our questions are extremely worthwhile and valuable for us in the study we are
conducting on changes to the immigration system and their impact on official
language minority communities.
If we asked you for a recommendation after the answers you have provided,
what would that recommendation be for a mechanism, run by the federal
government, that would provide optimal conditions for immigrants taking
advantage of the new skill-based program? What would that mechanism be?
Ms. Gallant, you have paid particular attention to young people and to
immigrants outside major centers. As a senator representing northern Ontario, I
would like to start by hearing your recommendations.
Ms. Gallant: You are looking at a mechanism run by the government,
specifically the federal government; that is, essentially, the first
recommendation on the back of my sheet, to provide financial support to, but not
manage, local initiatives, which are very close to the people in terms of
services designed to settle and integrate immigrants. A lot of excellent ideas
are developed locally.
The federal government has a role to play in setting that priority and in
emphasizing its particular importance in a minority francophone context, in a
rural context. Half of Canada's francophones outside Quebec live in urban areas,
but the other half lives outside the major metropolitan census areas. Especially
in small rural communities and in small towns, it is important to support those
initiatives without always counting the number of immigrants that have been
served this year, and so on. Because the work in communities is done at a
different level than just assessing what immigrants have received this year.
That is support that the federal government can provide without trying to run
things too much or trying to standardize them across the country. We have seen
that local contexts greatly affect the way in which immigrants are integrated.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I saw your recommendation about support; that
is why my question was about a mechanism. In other words, does that mean that
you would not be in agreement with a mechanism run by the federal government?
Ms. Gallant: What do you mean by mechanism, as opposed to financial
Senator Charette-Poulin: Let me give you an example of a mechanism. In
the past, for example, a number of round tables have been created for different
industries, in all kinds of areas, such as the environment, research, or to look
into questions about an industry, or broadcasting. Could you see a mechanism
established for skill-based immigration?
Ms. Gallant: Do you mean a kind of organizational structure to manage
Senator Charette-Poulin: Yes.
Ms. Gallant: Okay. I think that Mr. Diallo presented the initiatives
that are currently being handled at the national round table, which has very
close ties with the CIC/CFSM committee. I feel that we are heading in the right
direction with the idea of a structure that specifically recognizes the
diversity of small local communities. This is because it is a network of
networks, in the sense that, basically, at the Table nationale de concertation
communautaire en immigration francophone, of which Mr. Diallo is currently the
chair, there is representation from provincial networks that themselves are
structures where local organizations work together. So that is a mechanism that
allows access to those local practices that are certainly identified, without
necessarily always wanting to interfere too much with them because they have a
role to play in a structure like that. I feel that a structure that recognizes
the voices of community groups and local communities would be a mechanism, a
system that seems to be heading in the right direction in terms of the basics
needed to integrate immigrants into minority francophone communities.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Ms. Derwing, do you have any suggestions for
Ms. Derwing: Yes. I agree with Ms. Gallant that there needs to be an
emphasis on some of what is happening at the local level, but that needs to be
shared and there needs to be a formal mechanism for bringing integration
measures together, so people have a clear understanding of what is available in
Also, I am really concerned about the new database with the employers making
choices about who comes. I would encourage there to be a very careful evaluation
of how that project pans out very soon after it starts. I am really worried that
there may be problems with that database approach that we haven't anticipated.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Mr. Diallo, is there anything you could add
from your experience?
Mr. Diallo: You mentioned a mechanism. The mechanism for me is
relatively simple; it is a matter of collaboration between the federal and
provincial governments and the communities. It worked very well for Manitoba and
there is no reason why it could not work if we tried to expand the approach.
Immigrants come to a country, to a province, and they live in a community. We
must not forget the municipal level either. If those three levels begin to work
together, we will be able to have successful immigration.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Thank you.
The Acting Chair: Now we start the second round of questions. Senator
Chaput has the floor, followed by Senator Robichaud.
Senator Chaput: Thank you, Madam Chair. A bill has been introduced in
the House of Commons. The bill would amend the Citizenship Act. One of the
bill's proposals is to require citizenship applicants to demonstrate their
knowledge of Canada in one of the official languages. The bill then proposes to
require all applicants from 14 to 64 to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of one
of Canada's two official languages.
Canada has two official languages that are equal in status; official language
minority communities also have equal rights. If we have to require immigrants to
have sufficient knowledge of one of the two official languages, do you think we
should also strongly encourage those immigrants to learn Canada's other official
language? Do you believe that that we should strongly encourage that and make it
easy for people do it? Basically, can we have one without the other?
Mr. Diallo: I think that you are quite right. In terms of the
requirement for certain categories of people to have an adequate knowledge,
meaning an adequate knowledge of French, I have often heard a little pushback in
the other communities. Why should someone who speaks neither French nor English
have to choose to go in one direction or the other? That is a reality. I see it
more and more with our students. We have students from communities whether the
mother tongue is neither English nor French and who are now registering for
university. Immigrants coming here know that English is the majority language;
they are going to learn English.
Immigrants also know that, if their children learn French, it will be an
advantage. That is the point I wanted to raise in that whole matter of awareness
for immigrants: one person speaking two languages is worth double. It gives them
tools for the future. A number of them understand that and enroll their children
in immersion schools or in schools where it is possible for them to learn
French. We must make a huge effort to help people like that.
There is an aspect of the Citizenship Act that perhaps has not been mentioned
and that I would like to emphasize. At times, people are told that they need to
wait another year to become naturalized as Canadians. That requirement has an
impact in the sense that we invite immigrants to come to Canada but we tell them
that they have to wait. Take an immigrant coming here who is not a naturalized
Canadian. I will use the example of university researchers who have to go
elsewhere to present the results of their research. Take someone from Mali or
Senegal. They are doing research in graduate school and they have to present the
results of their research in the United States. They may not get a visa to go
Having a Canadian passport and Canadian citizenship is also a form of
integration. Perhaps the government has reasons for delaying access to
naturalization. However, it is an obstacle for immigrants working in some areas
who have to become naturalized. The possibility of promotion in universities
completely disappears in those cases.
We have to think about that. People have told me about it. One person told me
that she has not been able to go anywhere to present her research for three
years. As a result, she has not had any promotions, because she has been denied
a visa three times. I wanted to raise that point, because it is part of the
Ms. Derwing: I would like to say a few things. First, I think
encouraging new immigrants to learn both official languages, it's a nice idea,
but for adults who are hoping to work full time and learn one of the official
languages, I think we can't impose a second language on them. However, I think
it's a really useful notion to encourage immigrant children to go into programs,
either French immersion or English immersion programs. That's already happening
in many parts of Canada. We see a lot of children of immigrants who are in
immersion programs in B.C. and Alberta. It's becoming very popular among
immigrants to do that.
I think the first generation has burden enough to learn one of the languages.
To learn a second is asking, I think, a bit too much.
With respect to the Citizenship Act, there's one other thing I would like to
bring up. The Citizenship Act, at this stage of the bill that's being put
forward, I don't think makes any exemptions for refugees, for instance. We have
a small number of refugees who come to Canada every year. Some of those people
have not had an opportunity to have any formal education. We're talking about a
small number of people, but we have people who are coming in who have no
literacy in their first language and really struggle to learn even basic levels
of an official language when they get here.
It seems to me that it would be really churlish of us as Canadians to deny
eligibility to those individuals of Canadian citizenship on the basis of their
limited language skills in either English or French. For many of those people
they're never going to get to that level. Their children are going to definitely
be proficient in an official language, but I don't think we should invite people
to come here as refugees and say, "Yes, we'll help you but, oh, sorry, you're
never going to make it as a citizen."
Senator Chaput: Could I ask a follow-up question?
The Acting Chair: Ms. Gallant has also asked to make a comment. We
only have six minutes left, but you can ask your question and perhaps get a
Senator Chaput: No, it is fine.
Ms. Gallant: I did not really ask to speak, because I agree with what
has been said. We must not demand more from immigrants than we do from other
Canadian citizens. Requiring those born in Canada to have a command of both
official languages is not a model either.
That is the only thing I would add. Otherwise, I think that my colleagues
have already dealt with the important questions.
The Acting Chair: Senator Chaput, you have time to ask Ms. Derwing
Senator Chaput: I understand exactly what you've said, Ms. Derwing. My
question is one of compassion, because I've seen it happening in Manitoba. When
you get refugees in and they don't speak either language and they're seniors who
need health services, we cannot communicate with them. What do we do? We're not
helping them either.
Ms. Derwing: I think we have to use other members of the immigrant
community and use interpreters. That's what we have to do.
Senator Chaput: That's okay.
Ms. Derwing: That's fine.
Senator Chaput: Thank you.
Senator Robichaud: Ms. Derwing, you mentioned in your presentation
that we should also offer language training to temporary foreign workers, but
they are not considered immigrants as such; they come and they go. When they are
chosen, I don't think there is any consideration given to one language or the
other. I would like you to elaborate on that.
Ms. Derwing: The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has a couple of
different streams. One stream has to do with agricultural workers who come on a
regular basis, year after year after year, and some people have come for 25
years. While they're here they contribute towards the Canadian social network;
they pay taxes. We also have temporary foreign workers who come for four years
at a time and they work in all sorts of different settings and then they're
supposed to go home for four years. If they want to come back they have to wait
those four years and then come back.
A lot of those people really hope to stay. Some of them are able to
transition, but some of them are not. Some of those individuals who come are in
situations where they are completely isolated, they have no way to engage at all
within the Canadian community because they have no access to English or French
and they are extremely isolated.
In some instances it's bad enough that it causes safety problems at work. We
know of people who have died, for instance, in Fort McMurray, temporary foreign
workers who didn't understand the instructions. In the end, that whole team was
sent back to China.
It seems to me that we ask for workers, but it is human beings who come. We
need to think about anyone we invite to this country to work, pay taxes and
provide for the well-being of this country, we owe them something back. I just
feel it's wrong to bring people in and put them in very difficult situations and
leave it up to employers to decide everything.
There's no real monitoring, as we've seen. We've had temporary foreign
workers here in large numbers for several years now, and only now we see shock
and chagrin that they're being mistreated. But they've been mistreated all
Mr. Diallo: I think that temporary workers clearly constitute a base.
The Acting Chair: Mr. Diallo, I know that you want to respond, but
unfortunately we only have the video conference until seven o'clock, so we have
to wrap up.
I would like to thank our witnesses for their excellent presentations today,
and my fellow senators for all the excellent, pertinent questions you have
I therefore declare the meeting adjourned.
(The committee adjourned.)