(Quebec) The French language commissioner, Benoît Dubreuil, affirms that imposing intermediate knowledge of French on economic immigrants in order to welcome more than 60,000 new arrivals per year from 2027 may not be enough to reach “the necessary threshold to slow down the decline of French” in Quebec.
In his memorandum, which he presented on Wednesday to the parliamentary committee which is conducting public consultations on the planning of permanent immigration for the period 2024-2027, Mr. Dubreuil recommends postponing the gradual increase in its threshold for one year. immigration and to initially measure the spoken language of qualified foreign workers at work and in public spaces.
“We recommend that the MIFI set at 85% the number of adult immigrants who will be admitted in the economic immigration category who use French most often at work and in public spaces,” says Commissioner Dubreuil.
According to him, the Ministry of Immigration should set up an “annual recovery survey” to measure the state of the situation and “raise the admission thresholds only if the targets for the use of French at work and in the ‘public space have been affected’.
“The exact target could, for its part, be the subject of numerous discussions, but a proportion of 85% is what appears necessary to maintain the place of French at work and in the public space and to make it progress slightly in the future. If the increase in admission thresholds aims to increase the presence of French in Quebec’s public space, it should be conditional on the achievement of this target,” he specifies.
Mr. Dubreuil affirms that this indicator is relevant, because it makes it possible to measure “situations where French and English are truly in competition as a language of integration and intercultural communication”.
Vitality of French
Benoît Dubreuil is Quebec’s first French language commissioner, a position created by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government. He was appointed to his post last February for a seven-year term. Only Liberal Party MPs voted against his nomination.
In his first annual report, submitted to the Salon Bleu last June, he affirmed that the explosion in the number of temporary immigrants in Quebec was having “significant repercussions” on the situation of French.
“Ten years ago, there were 100,000 non-permanent residents in Quebec. There are now 346,000 present in the territory, or nearly 4% of the population,” he worried in the context where “French is less present and English is more so among non-permanent residents.”
In his brief filed in Quebec on Wednesday, Mr. Dubreuil recommends that the government introduce “measures to reduce the proportion of temporary permit holders who do not know French” and “increase the proportion of those who mainly use French at work and in public spaces. In interview with The PressImmigration Minister Christine Fréchette said earlier this week that she was seriously studying the idea of imposing language requirements on temporary immigrants.
Regarding foreign students, including those who have studied in French in the past or who have obtained a Quebec diploma in French, will be able to apply for the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) (considered a quick path to permanent residence) , Commissioner Dubreuil suggests “revising the linguistic policy of French-speaking universities to ensure that students at 3e cycle who are enrolled in a study program in French do indeed learn this language and that they evolve in laboratories and research centers where it is the common language.