Languages commissioner wants more French-speaking immigrants
Katherine d'Entremont says 33% of immigrants to New Brunswick should choose to live as francophone
New Brunswick's commissioner of official languages says more must be done to ensure that one-third of all immigrants to the province are francophones.
Katherine d'Entremont says only 12 per cent of immigrants to the province have registered as francophones in recent years. She says that is too far out of step with the historical reality of francophones making up 33 per cent of the province's population.
"The demographic weight of the community is lessening," said d'Entremont.
"If the francophone community sits at 33 per cent of the overall population and year over year over year, immigration rates are attracting only 12 per cent francophones, then the 33 per cent is going to decline gradually over time," she said.
"We want to maintain the historical linguistic division."
The equality of New Brunswick's two linguistics communities is enshrined in the Constitution, making it the country's only officially bilingual province.
d'Entremont is calling on the provincial government to do more to target countries with francophone populations in efforts to attract immigrants.
"The provincial government actually controls immigrants who come to New Brunswick through the provincial nominee program," she said.
"It's not just whoever wants to come gets in. That's not how immigration works.
"The provincial government can actually, through their programs and policies, control things so that the equality is restored," she said. "They can target more aggressively countries where francophone populations are in a majority.
"It's definitely up to the provincial government to step up their efforts in co-operation with the federal government."
The 2012-13 annual report for the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Labour and Training, which is responsible for immigration, states New Brunswick received the maximum 625 immigrants allowed through the provincial nominee program that year.
The annual report also states the department organized six immigrant recruiting missions to France, Belgium, Switzerland and Romania in a bid to attract francophone immigrants. It also worked with other government departments on a Destination New Brunswick event to sell the province to French-speaking newcomers.
d'Entremont wants more to be done to change the trend when 88 per cent of immigrants to the province choose to register as anglophones.
"It's got to change," she said.
"We need to see a shift in numbers because continuing the path that we have been is not achieving the results that we need to see."
d'Entremont understands the department will soon be unveiling an immigration strategy with a francophone component and said she will be looking to see what it contains.