Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the Réseau en immigration francophone du Manitoba, thank you for having me here.
The Réseau en immigration francophone du Manitoba is an initiative of the Société franco-manitobaine and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC, that has been developed under the roadmap and the community plan.
There are a total of 13 francophone immigration networks in Canada. The Manitoba network previously existed in the form of a cooperative network of partners that worked together in the community, but Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has funded that position on a full-time basis since 2013, when the Réseau en immigration francophone du Manitoba was born.
Without further ado, I will move on to the essential points of the roadmap 2013-2018. This roadmap definitely contains objectives that are optimistic about immigration. The linguistic component is one of the basic elements of the roadmap, from which I want to cite the following passage:
The Government of Canada will promote the benefits of Canada's official languages and invest in official language training for newcomers.
I am going to analyze that statement. I do not claim to be an expert, but I will give you my humble opinion and those of our partners. Immigration applicants are required to pay higher fees for French tests than for English tests, both before they arrive in Canada and for permanent residence. On this point, I refer you to the recent report of the Commissioner of Official Languages. The academic level of the French test is very high. A level ranging between five and seven, and even up to eight, is required for certain occupations, which is not within the everyone's grasp. The places where the tests are taken, such as the offices of the Alliance française or the French cultural centres in certain countries, are not always accessible. Candidates must also wait a very long time from the date of the exam until they receive their results as the tests are corrected only in France.
English language courses are available and offered to all permanent residents, but that is not the case of French courses. English-language learning is virtually mandatory in the francophone minority communities, and a full range of settlement and integration services are also provided. French, however, is optional.
“Improving efforts to recruit French-speaking immigrants to minority communities” is also part of the roadmap. We have been witnessing a reintroduction of the Mobilité francophone program since this past June. This is a very positive step forward for us, and we are definitely delighted with it.
However, for international fairs such as Destination Canada, IRCC has cut funding to community groups that have a major role to play in talking about the various services offered to provide assistance to future permanent residents.
There is also the Entrée francophone pilot project, the purpose of which is to share the database of francophone applicants who have been identified as such in the Entrée express program in order to match them with employers and thus facilitate occupational matching to provide better employment opportunities and accelerate the process within the Entrée express pool.
We can find no data on francophone applicants in the Entrée express program, since those applicants are not identified, partly as a result of the French test problem. In addition, not enough points are assigned to francophone applicants who speak English.
Yesterday, we had a meeting with the coordinator of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne, the FCFA, the organization representing French-language communities outside Quebec, and IRCC to discuss various problems. We hope the suggestions made by the communities and organizations during the consultations conducted last August will help in finding solutions. It was also apparent from the consultation in summer 2012 that, to maintain community vitality and take advantage of progress achieved, it is important to attract French-language immigrants to francophone minority communities and to ensure they are well integrated.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will increase its support for recruitment and integration of French-language immigrants in six minority communities outside Quebec.