Linguistic Vitality

Use of French at home is still a challenge...

  

The Mini-Francofièvre is one of the many cultural events organized by Francophone organizations in Saskatchewan. / Photo: Yvan Lebel

In 2006, a total of 631,040 persons stated they spoke French most often at home, compared with 675,925 in 1971. In addition, 367,570 others reported that they spoke French in the home on a regular basis. Interestingly, among the latter group, slightly more than 157,000 have English as their mother tongue. In most cases, these are Anglophones who have a Francophone spouse.

It is also noteworthy that apart from Quebec, compared with 2001, Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon have shown an increase in the number of Francophones speaking French most often in the home. The figures remained more of less stable in Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
 

French Spoken at Home, 1971-2006, Canada less Quebec

<strong>French Spoken at Home, 1971-2006, Canada less Quebec</strong>

Data from: Marmen and Corbeil, 2004 and Statistics Canada

* Statistics Canada started collecting data on other languages spoken regularly at home in 2001

... but knowledge of the language is becoming more widespread

The number of people who speak French (alone, or with English) has almost tripled in the past five decades, from 896,887 in 1951 to 2,561,245 in 2006. Overall, close to 11% of the Canadian population living outside Quebec is able to speak French. Even though this percentage varies from one province to another (43.6% in New Brunswick and 12.8% in Prince Edward Island, but only 4% in Nunavut), the fact remains that the numbers of people who know French are growing. This shows the attraction exerted by French and illustrates how significant the Francophile population of Canada is becoming.
 

Knowledge of French, 1951-2006, Canada less Quebec

Knowledge of French, 1951-2006, Canada less Quebec

Data from: Marmen and Corbeil, 2004 and Statistics Canada

French is doing relatively well in the workplace

In 2006, 700,665 persons living outside Quebec said they used French most often or at least regularly at work. Even though this accounts for only 5% of the overall active population of the nine provinces and three territories, it is noteworthy that 46% of the workers who know French are able to use this language at work. This percentage varies significantly depending on the region: it is elevated in New Brunswick (90.5%), Ontario (48.5%) and Prince Edward Island (46.9%), but rather low in Alberta (21.9%) and British Columbia (19.7%).
 

Use of French at Work by People with Knowledge of French, 2006, Canada less Quebec

Use of French at Work by People with Knowledge of French, 2006, Canada less Quebec

Data from: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census