By Mélissa Loïzou
As bilingual counsel at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic/Clinique juridique communautaire de Hamilton, I have been witness to many changes in the Francophone community in Ontario. Thanks to increased immigration from French-speaking countries, I’ve seen the Francophone population in the Hamilton area steadily grow over time. Within this population, many of our clients are facing settlement challenges and there is an ongoing need for resources.
In the fall of 2013, the Ontario government launched the Viens vivre en Ontario immigration website to attract skilled Francophone newcomers to Ontario. This French-only website is an important information hub that I’m very pleased to see be made available to new Francophones coming to Ontario.
Viens vivre en Ontario
The Government of Ontario’s Immigration Strategy aspires to have Francophones account for 5 per cent of all immigrants to Ontario by 2015. While any newcomer requires settlement services, Francophone newcomers are not always able to find language-appropriate services.
The Viens vivre on Ontario immigration website was created to support growing immigration and to ensure Francophones new to Ontario can find the services they require.
On the site, different regions in Ontario are featured that are ready to welcome skilled Francophone immigrants. While not all the regions featured are French designated, they are all places in Ontario where it’s possible for Francophone newcomers to thrive.
The site also serves as a directory for French language settlement services across the province. Under ‘services,’ there are government resources available to help Francophone newcomers orient themselves, whether in relation to healthcare, education or employment within Ontario.
Language training is a frequently-sought settlement need and is another type of resource featured on the site. Francophone newcomers to Canada have the benefit of already being fluent in one of Canada’s official languages—which can be a huge asset in entering the workforce.
Legal Aid Ontario and LawFacts.ca are also listed as resources, and provide crucial services to this community, frequently pertaining to matters such as social assistance, housing, and human rights. Having bilingual services is critical to a providing a high standard of service to Francophones.
A Francophone future in Ontario
The diversity in our community contributes enormously to its richness and vitality, and the influx of younger Francophone newcomers—often with families—brings fresh perspective and added energy to the Franco-Ontarian population.
With tools like the new Viens vivre en Ontario website, skilled Francophone newcomers will have a better idea of what to expect when they immigrate, and more support in finding their place in new communities.
The Hamilton clinic is one of 77 legal clinics throughout Ontario funded primarily by LAO, and is a bilingual clinic. Throughout Ontario, there are nine legal clinics that operate as fully bilingual clinics. Ontario is also home to two legal clinics that are entirely Francophone. 30 more clinics in the province offer varying degrees of French Language Services while being primarily Anglophone.