Last week Nova Scotia launched its new francophone immigration action plan. The report, Growing Nova Scotia’s Francophone Population – An Action Plan for Success (2022-25), outlines the province’s strategy for growing the population of French speakers.
It was created by the Nova Scotia ministries of Labour, Skills, and Immigration (LSI) and Acadian Affairs and Francophonie in collaboration with Fédération Acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse, Conseil de Développement économique de la Nouvelle-Écosse, Université Sainte-Anne, Conseil scolaire acadien provincial and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
It aims to attract francophone newcomers from other countries and provinces and includes efforts on:
- increased community and partner engagement
- promotion and attraction
- population growth programs
- retention and inclusion through settlement services
- research and evaluating programs.
The updated plan builds on the first Nova Scotia Francophone Immigration Action Plan launched in March 2019. The plan has been a prominent driving force in Nova Scotia’s endeavours to support existing francophone and Acadian communities by increasing the overall French-speaking population.
It relies heavily on the international promotion of Nova Scotia as a welcoming destination for francophones.
The report emphasizes creating awareness about immigration streams for French speakers through the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) as well as through the Atlantic Immigration Program. It also seeks to educate newcomers about supports and resources available to francophone newcomers in the province.
French in Nova Scotia
According to census 2021 data on languages, more than 30,000 people in Nova Scotia report speaking French as their first language.
Nova Scotia has had a well-established community of French speakers since the Acadians settled in the 1600s (they were later forcibly removed from the province by the British and sent to the southern United States. Many later returned).
“The Acadian and francophone communities have been an essential part of our province’s identity and heritage for more than 400 years,” said Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration for Nova Scotia. “Our new action plan demonstrates Nova Scotia’s commitment to increasing the number of French-speaking newcomers throughout the province and ensuring they have opportunities and supports to thrive.”
Increasing Nova Scotia’s population
Based on the recently released Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025, Canada hopes to welcome up to 500,000 new permanent residents a year by 2025.
Nova Scotia is seeking a share of the increase. In 2021 the population has grown to over one million people for the first time in its history, and the province hopes to double it by 2060. The high population growth is due almost entirely to increased immigration, both from abroad and on an interprovincial level.
To encourage more French-speakers to come to the province, Nova Scotia recently held a draw through the Labour Market Priorities stream of the NSNP. The 150 invited candidates were eligible for Express Entry and spoke French as their first official language or had Canadian Language Benchmark scores of 10 in all language abilities.
Francophone immigration in Canada
The Nova Scotia announcement came during Francophone Immigration Week. The annual event occurs each November and acts as an awareness campaign for francophone immigrants. The overall federal target for French-speaking immigrants outside of Quebec is 4.4% by the end of 2023.
One of the main pillars of attracting French immigrants is the 2018–23 federal Action Plan for Official Languages. The plan, which budgets $40.8 million to support its initiatives, has led to changes in Canada’s economic immigration policies, such as additional CRS points within the Express Entry system for speaking French as well as others such as the implementation of the Mobilité Francophone program to help employers outside of Québec hire French-speaking temporary workers. The federal plan focuses heavily on efforts in marketing and recruitment activities targeting French speaking immigrants.
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