It's no longer appropriate to keep the target at 4.4%. That target was set in the early 2000s because, according to the 2001 census, the francophone community made up 4.4% of the population. Last year's report from the Commissioner of Official Languages indicates that, even if the government had wanted to keep the demographic weight of francophones at 4.4%, it should have set a much higher target at the time. It's 15 or 20 years later, and we are still talking about reaching the 4.4% target maybe this year or next year. The demographic weight of francophones has declined significantly.
That has affected our ability to live in French, to exercise our rights as francophones all over the country and to overcome the severe shortage of education workers. In education alone, more than 22,000 francophone teachers are needed across Canada outside Quebec to keep French-language and immersion schools going. That's a huge problem. We are in a crisis, and what we want from this committee and this government is to deal with the decline of French as they have dealt with other crises in recent years: make it a priority and tackle it with the utmost care and humanity.
That said, Canada needs to recognize that it doesn't welcome enough French-speaking immigrants. What we hoped to see in the immigration levels plan for 2022‑24 was more than a figure at the bottom of a big table every year, with the goal of magically reaching a 4.4% francophone immigration target. At the very least, the number of francophones to be admitted under each immigration program should be listed.
Better still would be the creation of a separate program for francophone immigration. Similar to the immigration levels plan for 2022‑24, a distinct francophone immigration program could include low ranges and high ranges, and set out terms and conditions tailored to the needs of francophone communities and specific measures to promote francophone immigration in French-speaking countries.
Obviously, fewer countries are French-speaking, so targeted approaches are necessary not only in sub-Saharan Africa, but also elsewhere. Efforts to bring in newcomers must address the economic needs of francophone communities, which are much different than those of the country's English-speaking majority. The whole approach to francophone immigration requires an overhaul, and a specific program is needed. We realize that the 4.4% target stands for 2023, but a new target is needed as of 2024, and that target has to be at least 12% in order to combat the decline of our communities.