Fredericton, April 3, 2014 – New Brunswick’s Official Languages Commissioner, Katherine d’Entremont, is urging the governments of New Brunswick and Canada to adopt a framework agreement on Francophone immigration in order to maintain the demographic weight of this province’s Francophone community.
Katherine d’Entremont noted that recent data show that the Francophone community of New Brunswick, which makes up about one-third of the provincial population, has not benefitted from immigration as much as the Anglophone community.
“The Canadian Constitution is clear: the Francophone community and the Anglophone community of New Brunswick have equality of status,” said the Commissioner. “The provincial and federal governments therefore have to take the measures necessary to ensure that their immigration policies, programs and practices do not disadvantage one community over the other.”
An analysis1 by the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities shows that the vast majority (81.1%) of recent immigrants to New Brunswick reported English as their first official language spoken in 2011 whereas only 11.7% reported French. Moreover, the results of the New Brunswick Nominee Program – a program under which the provincial government selects immigration candidates – are no more impressive. In 2012-2013, the percentage of French-speaking and bilingual (English and French) candidates was only 12.2% of all candidates welcomed to the province.
“These results clearly demonstrate that efforts have to be stepped up to correct an imbalance that, in the long term, compromises the demographic weight of the Francophone community in the only officially bilingual province,” said d’Entremont.
The Commissioner is pleased with the intent of the provincial government to release a new strategy on Francophone immigration in the near future. However, she believes this new strategy needs to be based on a close partnership between the two levels of government.
“To meet the challenge of Francophone immigration to New Brunswick, a framework agreement between the two levels of government must be established”, said d’Entremont. “First and foremost, this agreement would affirm New Brunswick’s unique linguistic status. It would establish that immigration programs and practices of both levels of government must maintain the demographic weight of the two official linguistic communities. It would also affirm the duty to compensate for past imbalances in immigration rates.”
Commissioner d’Entremont considers immigration to be a fundamental pillar for the future of New Brunswick and that a framework must be clearly defined to ensure that immigration benefits both official linguistic communities equally.
“Over the past few years, Francophone immigration to New Brunswick has been a topic of interest to our two levels of government,” said d’Entremont. “It must now become a priority”.
1 Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, 2012-2013 Annual Report, page 27
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