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November 01, 2021

Is Canada's new "English or French" immigration policy on the right track?

It's no secret that Canada is steadily becoming a nation of many languages, as recent waves of immigration reshape the country’s main cities. Results from the 2011 Census found that one in five people spoke a language other than French or English in their homes.

The number of people who can conduct a conversation in both English and French jumped by nearly 350,000 to 5.8 million in recent years, but that hike is largely due to people in Quebec speaking both languages.

Overall, the bilingualism rate of the Canadian population at large is essentially unchanged.

And, it appears, that's not likely to change in the future either.

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While Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has said that he wants to see more of the foreign students currently studying in Canada become permanent residents and potential citizens, he has attached certain caveats.

"We must do a better job of selecting those who can succeed quickly, who can integrate quickly, who can find and keep good employment, who can start successful businesses and add to Canada's prosperity," he told CBC News.

To make that happen, starting today, citizenship applicants will now be required to provide "up-front objective evidence of their language ability at the time of their citizenship application." And while students may not have much of a problem there, lots of other folks likely will.

Applicants will be required to submit acceptable evidence, such as:
  • the results of a CIC-approved third-party test; or
  • the evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French; or
  • the evidence of achieving the appropriate language level in certain government-funded language training programs.

Should proficiency in English or French be a key criteria for citizenship or should newcomers be allowed to learn on the job? 

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...