—but I think the challenge comes before that. The challenge is the recruitment and where the Province of New Brunswick goes to recruit, as supported by the federal government. I have to say that in the Canada-New Brunswick agreement, which was the first one signed of all the provinces' agreements, the language is a little timid.
I talked to you today about the 33%. There's nothing I see in that agreement.... I was looking at it this afternoon just to refresh my memory. The federal government uses the language “increase” francophone immigration to New Brunswick. I've never seen it stated that the federal government acknowledges that New Brunswick has set a goal. New Brunswick has set a goal of 33% francophone immigration.
I'm not sure about the language in the agreement. I could stand corrected, Monsieur Cormier, but I didn't see the kind of strong language that there should be in an agreement where New Brunswick has set a goal, with clear targets, to achieve 33% by 2020.
You have to realize that because francophone immigration to New Brunswick was hovering around 12% for many years, in setting a 33% target there's catch-up to do. Plus, because of lack of retention, if you set a goal of 33%, what are you going to retain? To me, that is where it all starts. Of course, in New Brunswick we have a network of support services, integration services, and language training in English and in French, as some of you who are more familiar with New Brunswick would know, but in our education system, we have duality. Pretty much everywhere in New Brunswick in the larger centres, newly arrived folks can choose to send their children to either French school or English school. Plus, we have French immersion in the English districts, and we have francophone school districts and anglophone school districts.
To me, in New Brunswick, this is not about a lack of services. In the early years, there were some networks of organizations that provided services in French. To me, this has to start before that, by recognizing that the proportions are maintained no matter what the numbers are that come to New Brunswick. Right now, the provincial government is able to attract somewhere between 17% and 20% francophones. Depending on which stats we look at, it's hovering around the 20% mark, but the goal is 33% by 2020. It has been 12% for years, and with a declining population—we're the only province in the country whose population has declined—immigration is really key. Because New Brunswick has a large minority population, when you folks speak about francophone immigration outside Quebec and use numbers like 4% and 5%, that doesn't resonate with us in New Brunswick. I know that's an average across Canada outside Quebec, but we're talking about 33% when the rest of the country is hovering around 4% or 5%. If there's one thing I leave you with today that you remember, I hope that's it.
Our minority community is a large one in comparison to francophone minority communities in other provinces in Canada. That's why our demographic balance linguistically has to be maintained. In your agreements with New Brunswick, I urge you to consider and to recognize as a federal government our reality, a reality that stems from the Constitution and so on, and that is particular to New Brunswick.