Think of French-speaking Canada and your first thought probably goes to Quebec. As the country’s only province where French is the official language, that’s a natural response. And while there are French speakers throughout the country, Quebec is the beating heart of the language and resulting community in Canada. Yet, despite its size, its location confines most of the French-centric business and community to the east coast. However, change is on the horizon, as the launch of the Government of Canada’s attempt to immigrate the French language west across the country.
Beginning in 2016, the Mobilité Francophone program was initiated by the government in order to help spread the use of the French language and francophone culture across the country to the west coast of Canada and build up minority francophone communities outside of Quebec. The details of the program mean that French-speaking foreigners are able to move to French speaking communities and integrate their language and cultured into thew community further.
As a result, this helps to spread the commonality of French as a day-to-day language of social interaction and commercialism beyond the limits of Quebec. However, unlike many other Canadian Governmental schemes to encourage movement of people, the Mobilité francophone does not allow applicants to remain in Canada permanently, rather they can only stay for a finite amount of time, which is dependent on the location and role that they are applying to or appointed for.
In order to join the program, an applicant must prove that they can speak French fluently and that they are using it in everyday life, even though the roles they may be applying for do not necessarily require a francophone to fill the position or would not ordinarily if offered outside of the scheme.
French language proficiency can be proven by either taking one of the two government approved French tests, or by providing documents such as school reports or diplomas – proof that the applicant has lived in a French speaking country for a substantial period of time.
Equally, the companies taking part in the scheme must ensure that the jobs they are offering applicants have what is known as a National Occupation Classification code of either 0, A, or B. NOC code 0 jobs are those that are executive or managerial level employees, NOC code A is for professional occupations such as doctors, lawyers or teachers, and NOC code B includes trade or technical occupations, or occupations that require at least a small level of post-secondary education or training. However, the government does provide a list of occupations it considers too low skilled to be part of the Mobilité Francophone program, as not ever trade or technical job meets the necessary inclusion requirements.
The benefits of such a scheme mean that the spread of French and francophone influence would extend outwards beyond the limits of Quebec and across the country, so that many more people would be encouraged to speak French generally and take an interest in Canadian French culture, as well as contributing to it.
It is also beneficial for those French speaks who have an interest in staying finitely in Canada outside of the Quebec region and wish to see more of the country than the province provides. The Mobilité Francophone can also be a gateway into obtaining permanent Canadian citizenship for those who are interested, as anyone applying will already be in a highly qualified role already within the Canadian workforce and have access to the Express Entry immigration program that the Government runs to expedite skilled workers wishing to immigrate.
Those who are bilingual French and English speakers often have an increased chance of success in the Express Entry program than those who are monolingual in either language. Bilingualism is a highly desirable and valued skill, especially in Canada where both languages are part of the national identity and daily citizen life, and both French and English proficiency provide a higher number of points which are awarded to individual applicants as part of the Express Entry vetting and selection process.
Bilingual skills are also highly valued as part of the Provincial Nominee Programs which are an alternative way of permanently immigrating, where a territory or province can put forward an applicant who wishes to live and work in that province to the government as someone, they believe will benefit the community if allowed to gain permanent Canadian residency.
However, on the other hand, the application process for the Mobilité Francophone is not straightforward, the criteria are high, and the job experience or education level is also high to qualify as an applicant, as previously stated. This can limit the pool of candidates further, and the French fluency requirement, regardless of whether the desired job role needs it may put off some people who are both French and English speaking, as they may see it as redundant to have bilingual fluency, or partial fluency, unless French is the regular language which they speak within their own homes.
Many of the workplaces in Western Canada that use the scheme, do not use French at all as part of their working environment Having said that, the opposite could also be considered to be true for those in Quebec as to the need to speak English.
Overall, the strategy of the Mobilité Francophone is positive, and a good idea to ensure that the French influence in Canada does not stop at the borders of Quebec. Although there can be some issues in the process of applying and achieving a position, ultimately the scheme is positive for the language, the individual and the communities that are united as a result. The Mobilité Francophone program aims to keep Canadian French alive, recruiting new, habitual French speakers to Canada to work and help create and reaffirm communities outside of Quebec where French is the primary language spoken. These communities, while smaller than cities such ad Montreal have been developing all across Canada, helping to preserve language and create a whole new culture of their own.