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Northern Ontario’s francophone labour shortage

The region’s francophone senior population is among the fastest-growing in the province — and critics say not enough is being done to attract French-speaking migrants
By Clara Pasieka – Published on Jan 06, 2020

Endi Kodila arrived in northern Ontario from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015 and has since risen to become the director of a rehabilitation home. He’s educated, skilled, and building a new life in Kapuskasing, a francophone-dominated town of 8,500. But if the town is to address a worsening labour shortage, it’s going to need many more newcomers like Kodila.

Northern Ontario’s francophone senior population is among the fastest-growing in the province, and youth are leaving. This has created strong demand for French speakers, such as Kodila, to support an aging francophone population in a variety of roles, from personal-support workers to general labourers. While some observers are hopeful about new federal initiatives, there are concerns that not enough is being done to attract these sought-after international migrants.

Francophone-immigration targets are one answer for northern Ontario, and a new study outlines the extent of the need. By 2026, approximately 34 per cent of future in-migrants to Greater Sudbury, the region’s most populous area, will need to be French-speaking to maintain a core workforce that can serve the local French community, say researchers for the Northern Policy Institute and Reseau du Nord. Yet over the last five years, French-speaking immigrants to the region have amounted to just under 17 per cent. “The research shows that we need to act now,” says Thomas Mercier, director of Reseau du Nord.

The federal government has included Sudbury, and four other northern cities, in a pilot program. Launched in summer 2019, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is aimed at increasing economic immigration to these communities by creating a path to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers. Each of the northern pilot cities — North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, and Sudbury — has formed a community-steering committee to create systems that will attract candidates to address unique local needs. Under a separate federal initiative, Welcoming Francophone Communities, ​​​​​​​14 communities, including Sudbury, will share $12.6 million (over three years) for projects aimed at making francophone newcomers feel welcome.

For his part, Ontario labour minister Monte McNaughton says, “My approach is not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution but actually working with specific industries and specific regions to ensure that these jobs can be filled.”

As it stands, northern Ontario’s shortage is so severe that existing employers can suffer irreparable harm when a new company comes to town — even if it’s in a different industry. A bilingual phone centre in Capreol, a small community in Greater Sudbury, was shuttered a few years ago after a mine opened and scooped up many of its workers, says Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas. Meanwhile, sawmills in Atikokan and Ignace can’t run third shifts due to the labour shortage, says Mushkegowuk–James Bay MPP Guy Bourgouin.

Kapuskasing councillor Sébastien Lessard says that, although businesses recruit privately — the education sector, for example, conducts outreach with foreign students — additional government involvement is required. Mercier, who also serves as coordinator of the Northern Ontario Francophone Immigration Support Network, suggests that trade and economic-development missions need to focus more on francophone regions in Africa.

Gélinas says that establishing a passport office in the region would help. “As long as we don’t have the federal resources to support immigration — a passport office and a visa office — nothing the province does will make a big difference.” Temporary workers in her riding, she notes, have to drive four hours to Toronto to reach a passport or visa office if there is a problem.

Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s francophone-affairs minister, says that Ottawa should have accepted the province’s request for more economic immigrants under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program: “Ontario requested 1,000 additional nominations, and the federal government only permitted 50, well below what was requested.” Mulroney says that 7.7 per cent of the Ontario nominees were French-speaking in 2018, compared to 4.8 per cent in 2017.

It’s not unusual for a province to request more spaces than can be met by the Provincial Nominee Programs. In addition to consulting with the provinces, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada also considers the capacity of settlement organizations and long-term demographic trends. IRCC spokesperson Mathieu Genest says that adjustments to economic-immigration streams to encourage more francophone newcomers have already resulted in a doubling of the number of francophone economic immigrants to Canada. And, he says, “the Municipal Nominee Program announced in the electoral platform will help enhance the ability of communities to seek out the talent they need to help their economy grow.”

According to Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade, this past June, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government “expanded the [Ontario Immigrant Nominee] program to include two areas that were drastically missing in northern Ontario — truck drivers and PSWs.” And, last month, it released a Regional Immigration Pilot of its own for rural Ontario. While no northern Ontario communities were included, Cornwall was chosen for its francophone needs. “Outcomes from the pilot will help inform further efforts to regionalize economic immigration in Ontario,” the ministry says.

Fedeli, himself a lifelong northerner, says that the government has committed to putting a “northern lens” on the decision-making process. However, Mulroney says that her ministry plans to hold its annual francophone-immigration target at 5 per cent for the time being. But Mercier notes that northern Ontario has a francophone population of over 20 per cent, so different official regional targets for francophone immigration are needed just to maintain current demographic levels. That has been a strength, says Mercier, of the community-led goal-setting supported by new federal programs.

As for Kodila, he loves northern Ontario and the opportunities it has given him. When asked what he likes about living in the region, he says, “Les personnes qui sont ici, des personnes chaleureuses” — the warm people.

Come North

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As part of Come North – A Population Growth Strategy for Ontario’s Northern Regions, the Northwest Community Futures Network and the City of Temiskaming Shores are pleased to host two planning conferences. These events aim to discuss the population growth strategies for Ontario’s northern regions, while examining the challenges and expectations of new arrivals to their new communities.

February 11-13 / Riverside Place : Conference in Temiskaming Shores :

February 18-20 / Delta Waterfront : Conference in Thunder Bay :

Welcoming Francophone Communities initiative

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It’s important to encourage a newcomer’s sense of belonging to their new community. Activities help build links between French speaking newcomers and their host community, which help support Francophone minority communities across Canada.

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French Speaking Migrants to Greater Sudbury: 2017-2026

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Article from Northerne Policy Institute

Northern Ontario will be experiencing an increase in the number of seniors in the coming years, at a higher proportion than provincial levels. This will mean future labour market shortages, and a greater need for youth retention and migration to the North. With a need for more migration in general, the demographic composition of future migrants should also be considered, in order to prevent a faster decline of specific subgroups of the population that are following the overall aging population trend. Specifically in Greater Sudbury, French-speakers make up more than one third of the population, and Francophones comprise of over one quarter of the total population. This paper estimates how many future French-speaking migrants should be targeted for Greater Sudbury, as a proportion of total future migrants, in order to maintain the current proportions of French-speakers in the city.
The paper finds that in order to maintain the 2016 proportion of French speakers in Greater Sudbury, it is estimated that between 32% and 35% of future migrants would need to be French speakers. French-speakers, in general, are younger than the non-French speaking population. In contrast, when analyzing the Francophone population, the authors found that this demographic subgroup is older than the non-francophone population, meaning that a higher proportion of in-migrants would be needed in future years in order to maintain the current proportion of Francophones in Greater Sudbury.

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Expansion of Student Direct Stream to support Francophone immigration

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Communiqué de Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Applicants from Senegal and Morocco will get access to a more efficient process for study permits

August 30, 2019 – Ottawa – Canada is making the Student Direct Stream (SDS) available to international students coming from Senegal and Morocco, starting September 9, 2019.

By providing fast, reliable processing of study permit applications, Canada is better equipped to compete in attracting the best and the brightest from around the world.

The more efficient SDS process was launched in 2018 for students applying from China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam, with an average processing time of less than 3 weeks.

As outlined in an OECD report released earlier this month, Canada is a top destination for students seeking both a high-quality international education and employment in their field of study once they graduate. With Canadian education credentials and skilled work experience in Canada, former international students are well positioned for success in applying for permanent residence through Express Entry.

In addition, since 2017, Express Entry candidates with strong French skills have been able to earn additional ranking points. This provides more opportunity for them to successfully transition to permanent residence and contribute to the vitality and growth of Francophone communities outside of Quebec.

Expanding this faster and more efficient application process to prospective students from Senegal and Morocco supports the Government’s Francophone Immigration Strategy to encourage more young French speakers to choose to study in Canada.


“Canada’s diverse, welcoming society, high-quality educational institutions and opportunities to work or immigrate after graduation have made Canada a leading destination of choice for students from around the world. In expanding the Student Direct Stream to a more diverse range of prospective students, we’re enhancing the tremendous cultural, social and economic benefits that international students provide.”

– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick facts

  • The expansion of the SDS supports the Government’s goal of attracting students from a more diverse range of countries. This was identified as a priority in the new International Education Strategy for 2019 to 2024, launched earlier this month.
  • In July 2019, the SDS also became available to prospective students from Pakistan.
  • In 2018, nearly 54,000 former students transitioned to permanent residence, an all-time high.

Source :

Selon un nouveau rapport de l'OCDE, le Canada possède le système d’immigration de main-d'œuvre qualifiée le plus complet et le plus élaboré de l'OCDE.

Canada has the most comprehensive and elaborate migration system, but some challenges remain

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Canada has not only the largest in terms of numbers, but also the most elaborate and longest-standing skilled labour migration system in the OECD. Largely as a result of many decades of managed labour migration, more than one in five people in Canada is foreign-born, one of the highest shares in the OECD. 60% of Canada’s foreign-born population are highly educated, the highest share OECD-wide. The recent introduction of Express Entry, a two-step selection system based on an initial pre-sreening of suitable candidates who enter a pool by Expression of Interest and subsequent selection of the most skilled candidates from the pool, has further enhanced the competitive edge of the selection system relative to other countries. It also ensures that those with the skills to succeed are admitted to Canada in a quick and efficient way. Core to Canada’s success is not only the elaborate selection system itself, but also the innovation and infrastructure around it, which ensures constant testing, monitoring and adaptation of its parameters. This includes a comprehensive and constantly improving data infrastructure, coupled with the capacity to analyse it, and swift policy reaction to new evidence and emerging challenges.

Source :

The report is available at:

Unfortunately, the issue of Francophone immigration is completely absent from the report even if the Canadian government is far from reaching is target of 4,4 % Francophone immigrants outside Quebec. There is still a lot of work to be done on Francophone immigration. ONfr has looked at the subject : Les travailleurs francophones éludés dans un rapport de l’OCDE sur l’immigration économique. (in French)

Offre d’emploi au Réseau du Nord

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L’Association des francophones du Nord-Ouest de l’Ontario (AFNOO) est un organisme à but non lucratif qui a la mission d’assurer le développement et le rayonnement de la communauté francophone dans le Nord-Ouest de l’Ontario aux niveaux politique, éducatif, économique, linguistique, social et culturel.
Nous sommes à la recherche d’une personne compétente et professionnelle pour se joindre à l’équipe dans le cadre du programme du Réseau de soutien à l’immigration francophone du Nord de l’Ontario.
Ce programme crée des liens entre les organismes de toutes les régions du Nord de l’Ontario, telles que : Timmins, North Bay, Sault – Ste – Marie et Thunder Bay, afin de mettre en place un système pour faciliter l’accueil et l’intégration des nouveaux arrivants.

Le Réseau du Nord suit les objectifs du plan stratégique élaboré par le comité directeur :
– Accroître le nombre d’immigrants d’expression française de manière à accroître le poids démographique des communautés francophones en situation minoritaire
– Améliorer la capacité d’accueil des communautés francophones en situation minoritaire et renforcer les structures d’accueil et d’établissement pour les nouveaux arrivants d’expression française
– Assurer l’intégration économique des immigrants d’expression française au sein de la société canadienne et des communautés francophones en situations minoritaires en particulier
– Assurer l’intégration sociale et culturelle des immigrants d’expression française au sein de la société canadienne et des communautés francophones en situation minoritaire
– Favoriser la régionalisation de l’immigration francophone à l’extérieur de Toronto, Montréal et Vancouver

Sous la direction du coordonnateur du projet du Réseau du Nord et de la direction générale de l’AFNOO, le candidat aura pour fonctions principales de :
– Développer et maintenir des partenariats avec les municipalités, les institutions post-secondaires, les employeurs et les organismes des villes du Nord-Ouest
– Participer et/ou mettre sur pied des comités stratégiques en employabilité
– Rédiger des rapports, des articles, des lettres de soutien et parfois des demandes de subvention
– Formaliser le comité local en immigration francophone du Nord-Ouest et assurer sa coordination
– Encourager des partenariats entre organismes communautaires
– Soutenir les partenaires dans leurs projets en immigration
– Travailler de proche avec les Partenariats locaux en immigration dans le Nord de l’Ontario
– Travailler avec des organismes régionaux et provinciaux, comme la Société économique de l’Ontario et le Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario dans la promotion de l’entrepreneuriat auprès des nouveaux arrivants
– Identifier et recruter de nouveaux partenaires pour le Réseau
– Mobiliser des acteurs et leaders de la communauté
– Participer aux événements communautaires de la région
– Toutes autres tâches jugées pertinentes par l’employé(e) et le coordonnateur du projet

À travers ces tâches, le candidat aura la chance :
– D’améliorer ses capacités en développement économique, en marketing, en multimédia, en
communication et événementiel autant en français qu’en anglais
– De se familiariser avec le milieu communautaire et l’industrie
– D’améliorer ses capacités de recherche, de communication et d’analyse
-De renforcer ses compétences en gestion de projets

Exigences :
– Titulaire d’un diplôme universitaire dans un domaine lié au développement économique, à l’administration, à la gestion ou aux sciences sociales
– Idéalement, une expérience pertinente dans l’un des domaines cités
– Maîtrise des logiciels bureautiques comme MS Office, Adobe Acrobat professionnel, Google Suite, Canva et Mailchimp, ainsi que les outils de médias sociaux comme Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn,
– Connaissance des enjeux propres à la francophonie du Nord de l’Ontario
– Connaissance des besoins des immigrants et de la communauté d’accueil
– Familiarité avec les organismes francophones du Nord de l’Ontario
– Excellente connaissance de la langue française et bonne maîtrise de l’anglais
– Connaissance des systèmes de gestion de contenu web un atout (Joomla, WordPress)

Compétences recherchées :
– Capacité de travailler de façon autonome et en équipe
– Compétences interpersonnelles – écoute active et entregent
– Dynamique
– Capacité d’organisation, de gestion de temps et d’adaptation
– L’innovation et la créativité seront aussi mises en valeur dans ce poste

Lieu de travail : Thunder Bay, Ontario (avec des déplacements fréquents dans le Nord-Ouest)
Type de poste : 35 heures par semaine, permanent
Salaire : 43680$ à 47320$ par an plus avantages sociaux
Conditions de travail : être titulaire d’un permis de conduire valide

Veuillez faire parvenir, en français, votre curriculum vitae accompagné d’une lettre d’introduction, par courriel à au plus tard le vendredi 23 août 2019.
Nous ne communiquerons qu’avec les personnes dont la candidature sera retenue. Veuillez noter, seuls les curriculum vitae et les lettres de présentation en français seront acceptés.

>> Télécharger l’offre en PDF

Sudbury selected as a Welcoming Francophone Community

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News release

May 21, 2019 — Sudbury, ON — Sudbury has been selected as a Welcoming Francophone Community as part of the Government of Canada’s Action Plan for Official Languages.

Under the Welcoming Francophone Communities initiative, a total of 14 communities across Canada will receive funding so they can create programs and activities to help French-speaking newcomers feel welcomed and integrated into Francophone minority communities. This initiative of $12.6 million over 3 years was announced in Budget 2018 to support the integration and retention of French-speaking newcomers in Canada.

The new Francophone immigration strategy, Meeting Our Objectives: Francophone Immigration Strategy, announced on March 13, 2019, is a collaborative approach with federal, provincial, territorial and community partners, an approach described as “by and for Francophones”. It seeks to enhance the vitality of official-language minority communities through immigration and specifically by increasing the proportion of French-speaking permanent residents outside of Quebec, supporting the integration and retention of French-speaking newcomers, and building the capacity of Francophone communities.


“Francophone communities open up their hearts to welcome French-speaking newcomers to Canada. Sudbury will be able to be even more inviting to Francophone immigrants so they can feel welcome and where they will have more opportunities to make Canada their home. Through the launch of the Francophone Immigration Strategy, we are committed to increasing the proportion of French-speaking immigrants in francophone minority communities like Sudbury.”

– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“The selection of the Sudbury will make for a more diverse, stronger Francophone community supporting our workforce and community needs. We welcome more Francophones to make Sudbury their forever home.”

– Paul Lefebvre, MP Sudbury

“Sudbury is proud to be home to immigrants that have come from all over the world. The Francophone community, with its deep historical roots, is one of the founding community of Sudbury and the perfect place for francophone immigrants to come make it their new home.”

– Marc Serré, MP Nickel Belt

“The AFO is pleased that the Government of Canada has put forward 1 of the 11 recommendations in the White Paper on Francophone Immigration in Ontario by proposing a pilot project to increase the number of welcoming Francophone communities for Francophone immigrants in Ontario. We also congratulate the three Réseaux en immigration francophone (RIF) in Ontario for their work with regard to this major step taken today. In addition, by selecting three municipalities in the province, the pilot project contributes to the regionalization of Francophone immigration. We will continue to work with the Government of Canada and the RIFs to ensure the success of this initiative.”

– Carol Jolin, President of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) (Ottawa)

“I’m extremely proud that Sudbury was selected to welcome more francophone immigrants to our region. The franco-Ontarian flag originated in Greater Sudbury, proof of our vibrant and strong francophone community. This will not only enhance our heritage but also further welcome diversity.”

– Brian Bigger, Mayor of Greater Sudbury

Quick facts

  • Francophone Welcoming Communities initiative
    • The initiative is a pilot project co-led by IRCC and Francophone communities, which include the 13 Réseaux en immigration francophone, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA) and the Comité atlantique sur l’immigration francophone (CAIF).

    Meeting Our Objectives: Francophone Immigration Strategy

    • A number of initiatives under the new strategy are already under way, including those announced by the Minister in November 2018 as part of National Francophone Immigration Week.
    • As of December 2018, 4.5% of Express Entry invitations to apply were issued to French-speaking candidates, compared to 2.9% in 2017.

Associated links

Source :