Program closes despite earlier government initiatives to promote Francophone immigration
As of October 1st, 2014, the Canadian federal government has discontinued the French Significant Benefit Program, which formerly facilitated the recruitment and immigration of French-speaking temporary foreign workers for employment in Francophone communities outside of Québec.
The French Significant Benefit Program was part of the International Mobility Program. It enabled employers to hire French-speaking and bilingual foreign professionals without first pursuing a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to confirm a lack of Canadian workers available to fill the advertised job. Workers who entered Canada through the program could then remain in the country permanently if they met the requirements of a federal immigration program such as the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Gilles Benoit, president of Prince Edward Island’s Coopérative d’intégration Francophone, has proclaimed the loss of the program “unquestionably a big setback for Francophone immigration.”
Says Benoit, “We relied heavily on the Francophone Significant Benefit program to promote the recruitment of qualified bilingual workers among employers in the province.” The newly terminated program was, in Benoit’s words, “the only tool Francophones had to get tangible results in Francophone immigration to Prince Edward Island.”
Citizenship and Immigration Minister reaches out to Francophone groups
News of the closure came as a surprise following recent statements from Federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander about the government’s plans to increase Francophone immigration to communities outside Québec. Earlier in September, Alexander convened with various immigration advocates and community leaders in Winnipeg to endorse a Francophone focus in Canadian immigration.
“Our government is proud to promote Francophone immigration to Canada, which will help to ensure our communities remain vibrant and prosperous,” Alexander stated. “We will continue to work with our partners to attract Francophone immigrants with the skills our labour market and economy needs.”
While visiting Winnipeg, Minister Alexander also met with the local Francophone Immigration Network to discuss Francophone immigration and other local needs. The Minister further consulted with representatives from two organisations devoted to assisting Francophone immigrants: the Accueil Francophone and the Conseil de développement économique des municipalités bilingues.
Remaining options for French-speaking immigrants
Without the French Significant Benefit Program, however, French-speaking foreign professionals still have several options for entering Canada and finding employment. These include the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, which has brought 14, 000 temporary workers from France to Canada this year. The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) also remains open to foreign workers in 50 designated occupations until it closes in December. In January of 2015, the government will launch its new Express Entry system, which will make it easier for Canadian employers to find and select qualified immigrant workers. In the meantime, obtaining an LMIA also remains an option for Canadian employers in need of French-speaking foreign workers.
The Canadian government continues to voice its commitment to helping Francophone communities across the country flourish, so there may be further initiatives on the horizon to fill the gap left by the French Significant Benefit Program.
To consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer, contact First Immigration Law Firm Toll-free in North America @ 1-855-360-4333.