In recent years, the Canadian government has been stepping up its efforts to attract French-speaking immigrants to communities across Canada. To encourage continued francophone immigration growth, the government has set a target of 4.4 percent of francophone immigrants settling outside Quebec by 2023.
The push for increased francophone immigration is largely due to declining French-speaking populations across Canada. According to Statistics Canada, the percentage of Canadians who speak predominantly French at home fell to 19.2 percent in 2021 from 20 percent in 2016. In fact, the proportion of French speakers has declined in nearly all areas of Canada, including Quebec.
If you speak French, now might be the best time for you to consider immigrating to Canada. Depending on your profile and experience, you could benefit from immigration incentives targeted at French speakers to make your move to Canada possible. Here are three of the best places in Canada for French speakers to live:
It’s no surprise that the French-speaking province of Quebec tops the list. Quebec is the only province to have French as its only official language. Over 75 percent of Quebecers speak French as their first language and about 95 percent have some level of French proficiency. Thus it is no surprise that it is the most popular province for francophone newcomers coming to Canada. However Quebec is known for more than just its francophone culture, it is also renowned for its cultural activities, history and breathtaking nature.
While there are many popular areas all over Quebec for newcomers, Montreal is consistently popular with immigrants from all over the world. Montreal is Quebec’s most populous city and the third most popular destination among new immigrants.
As North America’s most popular host city for international events, Montreal is often considered Canada’s most cultural city; here, you can enjoy various established music, comedy, and film festivals year-round.
Although Montreal’s official language is French, unofficially it is often seen as a French-English bilingual city. This can be appealing for bilingual immigrants and families as it gives them opportunities to practice and improve both language abilities while living and working in a French environment.
Ontario is the most popular province in Canada for newcomers to move to. In 2021, Ontario received about half of all new Canadian permanent residents. It also has the largest francophone population outside of Quebec.
Ontario also has specific immigration programs to help draw French speakers to the province. If you are a French speaker with strong English language abilities, you may be able to apply for Ontario’s Express Entry French-Speaking Skilled Worker stream. This stream gives French-speaking skilled workers with strong English language abilities the opportunity to live and work in Ontario.
Ontario’s most popular city, Toronto, is also the largest city in Canada. A majority of newcomers to Canada choose to settle in Toronto. Toronto also has a strong French-speaking community and is also a popular destination for French speakers. According to the 2021 census, over 60,000 people speak French or French and another language, as their first language. Over 239,000 people also have some knowledge of French.
As Canada’s only officially bilingual province, it is also a popular place for francophone immigration. Nearly one-third of people living in New Brunswick speak French, and there are francophone and anglophone communities throughout the province.
New Brunswick is a beautiful Maritime province known for its picturesque mountains, rivers, forests and other natural sights. If you enjoy being in nature, camping or hiking, then New Brunswick might just be the place for you!
One of the best places in New Brunswick for francophone newcomers is Haut-Saint-Jean. Haut-Saint-Jean offers rustic scenery, festivals, and a strong francophone culture. Over 90 percent of the 98,000 residents speak French as a first language.
Haut-Saint-Jean has also been selected as a Welcoming Francophone Community by the Canadian government’s Action Plan for Official Languages. Under this initiative, communities are selected to receive funding to go towards programs to help French-speaking newcomers feel welcomed into Francophone minority communities.
Even outside of Quebec, speaking French is advantageous for those looking to immigrate and settle in Canada.
When it comes to permanent residency, those with strong French language skills receive additional points for Express Entry. Express Entry is aimed at selecting applicants who meet the criteria for one of three main federal economic programs. The main programs are the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.
The system recognizes French language skills and awards points for high levels of French language proficiency. This could give applicants who speak French a better chance of being selected over a similar applicant without French proficiency.
In addition to the Express Entry system, Canada has an advantageous Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Provincial governments administer their unique immigration programs, and some have streams specifically designed to recruit French speakers and help them integrate into francophone communities.
Such is the case of the aforementioned Ontario’s French-Speaking Skilled Worker stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), which nominates candidates with advanced French language abilities. Nova Scotia also invites French-speaking candidates through its Labour Market Priorities Stream.
Depending on your goals there are many ways to immigrate to Canada as a French speaker.
If you want to study, there are dozens of reputable institutions across Canada that provide quality French or bilingual education and programs to suit your needs. Studying in Canada also tends to be more affordable compared to other popular destinations such as the United States.
Receiving a work permit, on the other hand, will allow you to come to Canada specifically to work. Due to an increased labour shortage, many companies are turning to immigration to meet labour demands. Having french proficiency could give applicants a leg up on the competition to land their ideal role.
Once in Canada, if you decide you’d like to make your stay more permanent, you can begin to explore permanent options such as Canadian permanent residency. However, if you are already sure that you would like to make your immigration permanent, you can apply directly for permanent residence through Express Entry from your home country.
Interested in learning more about your options to immigrate to Canada? Take our free assessment to discover all of your options.
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