Francophones in Canada and the World

The presence of Francophones varies enormously from one end of Canada to the other. Outside of Québec, Ontario is the province that counts the largest number of residents whose mother tongue is French, followed by New Brunswick. More than three quarters (76%) of Francophones outside Quebec live in these two provinces. Proportionately, at the provincial/territorial level, Francophones represent at most 5% of the population, except in New Brunswick where Francophones number a third of the total population.

This said, in many regions across Canada, Francophones form a large proportion of the local population. Approximately 60% of Canadian Francophones live in regions where they form more than 20% of the population.

Despite a continuous increase in native French speakers across the country, their proportion has only recently levelled off after years of decline due to international immigration (which has led to an increase in the number of non-official language speakers). Of the French speaking immigrants, many decide to settle in Francophone and/or Acadian communities outside of Quebec, adding to the culture and vitality of Canada's Francophonie. These immigrants also assist in creating ties with the international Francophonie.

The importance of French also surpasses our Canadian borders. French, an Official Language of Canada, is no longer limited to European diplomatic relations. Indeed, French is a truly global language; it is a major tool of the international market place and of major international institutions. International institutions such as the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Labour Bureau, and International Red Cross use French as a language of communication.

According to a report on the status of the Francophonie in the world 1, there are 113 million individuals who speak French fluently and use it on a regular basis, 61 million individuals who speak French occasionally, and 100-110 million students of all ages who have learned or are learning French. French is the second most frequently taught language in the world. It is also the second most prevalent language on the Internet.

[1]Rapport sur l'état de la Francophonie dans le monde. Données 1997/98 et six études inédites. Haut Conseil de la Francophonie, Paris, la Documentation française, 1999.

More interesting links on the subject:

Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie

Canadian Heritage

Last reviewed/revised: December 4, 2013