French continues to decline in Canada and Quebec, according to Statistics Canada

From 2016 to 2021, the number of Canadians speaking French as their first official language rose from 7.7 million to 7.8 million, an increase of 1.6% over five years.

However, this growth is lower than the Canadian population growth rate, which is 5.2%. So the weight of the French language has diminished in Canada. In fact, the percentage of Canadians for whom it is the first official language decreased from 22.2% in 2016 to 21.4% in 2021.

This downward trend is not new. Since 1971, the first public census in which information is collected about the first official language spoken, the demographic weight of French in Canada has been declining. That year, French was the first official language spoken by 27.2% of Canadians.

Most indicators of the development of the French language in Canada follow the same trend: it increases in absolute numbers and decreases as a percentage of the population, and the number of speakers of other languages ​​is increasing relatively faster. »

Quote from Excerpts from Statistics Canada’s 2021 Census report

And Quebec is no exception. While the number of people using French there increased, from 6.4 million to 6.5 million, their demographic weight decreased as well, from 79% to 77.5%.

This downward trend has been observed since 2001 in Quebec, according to Statistics Canada.

The data also shows that the proportion of people speaking French as their first official language has decreased in all regions of Quebec, with the exception of Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine. The decline was most pronounced in Nord-de-Quebec (-3.6 percentage points), Laval (-3 percentage points), Montreal (-2.4 percentage points) and Ottawa (-2.4 percentage points).

The number of people for whom English is the first official language spoken has also exceeded the important milestone of 1 million speakers in Quebec for the first time in the census. The proportion of the population represented by these speakers increased from 12% in 2016 to 13% in 2021.

Of these speakers, more than 7 in 10 were in Montreal or Monterrey.

In general, Statistics Canada explains this growth by the fact that English speakers are on average younger and therefore have a lower mortality rate. The report notes that immigration, particularly from other provinces, is also having an impact.

we know [en provenance] Other data sources indicate that the number of non-permanent residents who settled in Quebec overall, from 2016 to 2021, increased compared to the previous periodsaid Statistics Canada’s assistant director of Demography, Eric Caron Malenfant, at a press conference.

“The census data on official languages ​​is concerning and makes very clear what our government has already said,” Federal Minister for Official Languages ​​Jeanette Petitbas Taylor commented in a written statement.

The French are threatened in Canada, including in Quebec. »

Quote from Jennette Petitbas Taylor, Federal Minister for Official Languages

I also took the opportunity to stress the importance of the rapid adoption of Bill C-13, which aims to modernize the Official Languages ​​Act. It also promised that the statements would guide its decisions on the next work plan for the official languages.

We were right to act, support Legault

The release of the census comes as Quebec steps up its efforts to protect the French language in the province, with the latest language law passed this year restricting the use of English in government services.

From what I see, it’s concerning, and we were right to work with Bill 96Prime Minister Francois Legault commented clamorously at the entrance to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, explaining that he still had to Learn about studying.

The new law, which regulates the use of the French language in government bodies, companies and public places, is set to enter into force on September 1. In particular, it states that all companies with 25 to 49 employees are subject to the French language charter, as are companies under federal jurisdiction, such as banks.

in an interview in back infoJean-Pierre Corbel, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Université Laval and former Head of Statistics Canada’s Linguistic Programme, put the impact that reform of the French language charter could have on Link. for census data released on Wednesday.

What is remarkable, of course, is that the English language continues to gain ground, but in the private sphere. […] It should be understood that Quebec’s language policy is about public spacecommented.

We will have the working language figures in November, Mr. Korbel said.

In 2021, Statistics Canada identified 189,000 people as having at least one Aboriginal mother tongue and 183,000 people speaking at least one at home regularly. Cree and Inuktitut languages ​​are the main indigenous languages ​​spoken in Canada.

English is the preferred language for immigrants

Conversely, the weight of English as the first official language spoken across Canada has increased since 1971. From 2016 to 2021, it increased from 74.8% to 75.5%.

As in the past, immigration has contributed to this trend, with the majority of immigrants turning to English after arriving in the country. »

Quote from Excerpts from Statistics Canada’s 2021 Census report

For example, in 2021, 80.6% of Canadians whose mother tongue is not French or English […] English was their first official language, compared to 6.1% speaking FrenchFederal agency details.

Mr. Caron Malenfant noted that Statistics Canada will release specific data on immigration and population movements between provinces in October. We will have a more complete overviewHe said.

Additionally, the number of Canadians who speak a language other than English or French mostly at home is also rising, from 4 million in 2016 to 4.6 million in 2021.

These people represent 12.7% of Canada’s population, a proportion that has been increasing for 30 years; It was 7.7% in 1991, when immigration levels were increasing.

Apart from French and English, Mandarin and Punjabi were the most widely spoken languages ​​in the country in 2021. The languages ​​that experienced the strongest growth spurt between 2016 and 2021 are those native to South Asia, including Punjabi.

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