Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer:
Welcome to the Senate, minister. Thank you for your work to promote national bilingualism, for adopting the Action Plan for Official Languages, and for the Canadian vision to achieve a more inclusive bilingualism.
I would like to share my concern about francophone immigration to British Columbia. Some 30 per cent of the Franco-Columbian population comes from outside Canada, from places like Morocco, Mauritius Island, Congo, Senegal and Syria. However, upon arriving, francophone immigrants to my province are not informed about French-language services and education available to them.
Minister, can you explain to me why francophone immigrants to British Columbia are not informed about the French-language education options available to their children?
Hon. Mélanie Joly, P.C., M.P., Minister of Canadian Heritage: Thank you for your question, senator. That is a crucial question because it relates to the longevity of the francophone community in British Columbia and across the country. During our Canada-wide consultations, we realized that there is no national strategy to attract francophone immigrants to Canada or to make them feel welcome and help them integrate. Not only was there no national strategy, but also, there were very few organizations in Canada providing this service.
In the Action Plan for Official Languages, the federal government will, for the first time, fund minority language community organizations that can integrate francophone immigrants into the community. This is basically a “by-and-for” approach to immigration. We hope the provinces will get on board because, as you know, they are responsible for integrating immigrants in their own jurisdictions. Together with the FCFA and many organizations across the country, we want to build this type of expertise, which, ultimately, will impact generations to come.