What languages are spoken in Canadian regions? Language discrimination

What languages are spoken in Canadian regions? Language discrimination

Canada is officially bilingual. Does it mean that every Canadian is bilingual? Where should you settle if you know English or French? Is there discrimination based on language?

Today I want to tell you about French in Canada, its status, where French is most popular, and why it is worth learning French even if you are not going to live in a French-speaking area.

Status of the French language

I think everyone knows that French is one of the two official languages of Canada, along with English. And many people think that if the country has two official languages, all residents are bilingual and can speak both freely. This is absolutely not true.

French is an official language in Canada only at the federal level. That is, people can use it, can receive public services in French, documents are translated into French, and so on. But English still prevails in most provinces, although French is protected by law, and the authorities try to promote its use.

French is spoken in Canada by about 8 million people, more than 20% of the population. French speakers are called francophones, and almost all of them live in only three provinces: Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.

French-speaking province

The most logical place to start, of course, is Quebec because it is the only province where French is the only official language. It is spoken by 85% of the inhabitants. Quebec was once a bilingual region, but then French was made the only official language. Although there are quite a lot of English speakers in Montreal.

But life in Quebec is unpredictable. There is language police, and this year a new law has appeared that forbids the use of English in business, in the courts, in public services, and so on. Even immigrants are not allowed to receive services in English, and their children must attend francophone schools.

The latter fact is both a minus and a plus. My family and I lived in Quebec for almost 4 years, and our children now speak both French and English fluently thanks to it. It is more difficult with Russian, the same goes for Ukrainian and Polish. They also learned these languages and spoke them quite well but forgot them.

If you don't know French, you shouldn't settle in Quebec. My husband never learned it, and at times he was uncomfortable communicating. And now, after francization, it's even harder in Quebec.

Other French-speaking provinces

Let me now tell you about the other Canadian provinces and territories. Three northern Canadian territories are officially multilingual: Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories. But there, in addition to English and French, indigenous languages are considered official, and French is spoken by very few people, somewhere between 2-4%.

The only province where both English and French are used almost equally is New Brunswick. 40% of the population there consider English their native language, and 30% consider French their native language. The rest are from other countries. Incidentally, 34% of New Brunswickers describe themselves as bilingual. You can get services and education in both languages in this province. And there's also a stream for francophones in New Brunswick's immigration program. So, in terms of bilingualism, New Brunswick is probably a good example.

English-speaking provinces

What happens in the other provinces? I'll start with Ontario, the most popular province, where, by the way, I live now. Do you know how many percent of the population speaks French? Only 4%. Part of the province speaks only English, and another part is considered bilingual, but that's not true, there are only some French-speaking areas in Ontario. But the provincial services are bilingual, and there are a lot of French-speaking schools compared to other provinces.

If you know French but for some reason do not want to move to Quebec, Ontario has an immigration stream for French speakers.

If you need help with immigration, contact me as I am a regulated immigration consultant in all of Canada except Quebec. An additional license is needed there; I haven't received it yet.

As for the other provinces, the French language is not doing so well there. After Ontario, the next most French-speaking province is Prince Edward Island, with just over 3% of the population being francophones. There is not much to say about this region, because the provision of services in French has been under development there for many years, and there are a few French schools. That's it.

The next are Nova Scotia and Manitoba. There is no legal requirement in Nova Scotia to provide any services in French. When the province joined Canada, it had one official language, English.

In Manitoba, all laws used to be made only in English. Then French was given equal status, but in practice, provincial services in French are available only in some areas, and English is still the principal language.

The next province I will tell you about is Alberta. The official language there is only English, and French is spoken by only 2% of the population. But this language can be used in the legislature and some courts. Laws are written only in English and don’t have to be translated into French.

In Saskatchewan, as in Manitoba, English was the only official language until some time ago. Now there are French schools there, laws can be published in both languages, and French can be used in the legislature and the courts. But court rules, oddly enough, must necessarily be in two languages, unlike everything else. And less than 1.5% of the population speaks French.

The remaining two provinces are almost entirely English-speaking. In British Columbia, there are about as many francophones as in Saskatchewan. There are few French-speaking schools and only one French-speaking college, and in general, the provincial authorities do not attempt to promote the use of French.

And Canada's most English-speaking province is Newfoundland and Labrador. The government offers minimal services in French, and only English is used in legislatures, courts, schools, and the civil service. Given how few francophones there are in the province, less than 1% of the population, French is not really needed there.

Why learn French

A little summary — if you do not know French, it is better not to settle in Quebec, but all the other provinces are for you to choose from. And if, on the contrary, you know French, but not English, it will be easier in Quebec or New Brunswick.

But I want to tell you something else: if you are going to immigrate to Canada and you do not plan to live in Quebec, I still advise that you learn French. Why if everyone speaks English? The fact is that as the government tries to protect the French language, those who know it have a better chance to immigrate.

Additional points for French are awarded in immigration programs. There are special programs for francophones. For example, as I said, in Ontario and New Brunswick. Plus, a lot of immigration programs give more points for bilingualism.

Ivanna Pavlenko, Canadian regulated immigration consultant

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