Feds cut French employment program

The federal government has abolished a program that allowed Yukon's francophone businesses to attract and retain foreign workers. The French Significant Benefit Program, closed on Sept.

The federal government has abolished a program that allowed Yukon’s francophone businesses to attract and retain foreign workers.

The French Significant Benefit Program, closed on Sept. 30, made it easier for employers to recruit internationally without having to go through a lengthy labour market evaluation.

Under the program, foreign workers could stay in the Yukon permanently if they wanted to when their visas expired, based on the experience they’re acquired in Canada.

Without the program they would have to go back to their home countries to re-apply for another visa.

The Yukon’s francophone population numbers around 1,500 people and in the past 18 months, the benefit program attracted six new people to the territory.

It doesn’t sound like much but it’s a significant number, according to Frederic Nolet, economic development director at the Association franco-yukonnaise.

“About 15 per cent of the francophone community here was born outside of Canada, including four in my office alone,” he said.

“Just recently we went through a hiring process where we had two great candidates for a position but we couldn’t hire the best one because this program has been abolished.

“In the past when you found a francophone immigrant who could do the job, you could hire them with this program and it only took about two weeks to get a visa permit. That was it.”

In 2006, under the Strategic Plan to Foster Immigration to Francophone Minority Communities, the federal government set a target of having at least 4.4 per cent francophone immigration outside of Quebec.

According to the 2011 census, francophones made up 4.3 per cent of the territory’s population.

That’s why one more person, or one less, makes a big difference, Nolet said.

“Most of the francophone immigrants come here because they’ve done their research and it’s place they’re considering moving to,” he said.

“For at least half of the francophone immigrants who come here, it’s on a holiday. That’s when they realize they can raise their families in French and work in French.”

When they move to the Yukon they become active members of the francophone community, such as Christiane and Jean-Marc Champeval, who own the Takhini Lodge, he added. Francophone immigration outside of Quebec is a “huge challenge” and the benefit program was a valuable tool to attract francophone immigrants, Nolet said.

He believes the program was scrapped because Canada is about to overhaul its immigration system on Jan 1.

Nolet said he was surprised to hear of its demise, especially after hearing Canada’s immigration minister speak so highly about promoting francophone immigration only two days prior to the news.

“Our government is proud to promote francophone immigration to Canada, which will help to ensure our communities remain vibrant and prosperous,” said Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister on Sept. 9.

“We will continue to work with our partners to attract francophone immigrants with the skills our labour market and economy needs.”

Nolet said he’s hoping the old program will be replaced.

“We don’t have any strategies or tools now to attract those people anymore,” he said.

“Six new people were added to the francophone community in the past 18 months because of that program. It’s tough to hire and retain people here.

“In the francophone community, just like in the anglophone community, there’s a lot of turnover.”

Canada welcomed 3,685 francophone minority immigrants in 2012, a four per cent increase over 2011, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Contact Myles Dolphin at myles@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen


Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Most Read