Canada says 'bienvenue' to Francophone immigrants

Everybody knows that Canada needs more healthcare workers, more homebuilders, and… more French speakers? 

Driving the news: Since revamping the Express Entry system for skilled immigration last year, 19,700 potential immigrants have been invited to apply for permanent residency based on their French skills, more than any other selection category, per a Globe and Mail analysis.

Catch-up: Last year, the feds changed the Express Entry system for permanent residency to increase immigration of workers from five in-demand fields — STEM, healthcare, transport, trades, and agriculture — as well as for candidates with high French-language proficiency. 

  • The feds are trying to bolster French-speaking communities outside Québec, including new immigration measures announced earlier this year.

  • That’s because the share of bilingual non-Québec residents whose mother tongue is French is falling, and was down by 0.8 percentage points between 2001 and 2021.

Why it matters: The outsized focus on letting in French speakers highlights what critics see as a flaw of the revamped Express Entry system — candidates that are potentially a better fit for migration are overlooked just because they don’t fall into any of the program's buckets. 

  • Candidates with higher scores who apply through the general application process are at times left out, while people with lower scores make it via the Express Entry route.

Zoom in: Since the implementation of the updated Express Entry program, the average cut-off Comprehensive Ranking System score for permanent residents was between 392 and 486, depending on the category. For candidates applying via general applications, the cut-off was 527.—QH