Nova Scotia attracted more French-speaking immigrants to the province last year than the total number of francophone permanent residents it welcomed in the past decade.
In 2022, 795 immigrants who either spoke only French — or listed French as the language with which they were most at ease — landed in Nova Scotia. That's four times as many as the 180 who came in 2021.
"It is excellent news," said Marie-Claude Rioux, executive director of the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse.
She noted the non-profit group has been lobbying the Nova Scotia and federal governments to increase francophone immigration to the province for at least two decades.
"It's a good step in the right direction," said Rioux.
The federation, which represents community groups across the province, also provides immigrant settlement services for French-speaking newcomers.
Rioux said the federation's eight-person team at Immigration francophone de la Nouvelle-Écosse will need bolstering given the increase in the number of people choosing the province as their landing site in Canada.
"Our immigration program has a lot more clients and we hope that it will lead to better services and more employees," she said.
Nova Scotia's Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration is also pleased with the increase, but isn't ready yet to commit to more funds.
French speakers who took up permanent residency in N.S.
Jennifer L'Esperance, senior executive director of Immigration and Population Growth, said all settlement organizations were recently asked to submit three-year funding requests.
She said they will be reviewed over the next few months and agreements will be created.
"We have increased our resources and we will continue to support all settlement organizations across the province as our landings do increase," said L'Esperance.
"We're attracting more and more people to Nova Scotia and our settlement organizations, across the board, really support those newcomers on the ground, and we want to make sure they're supported to do the good work that we need in our community."
Newcomers aren't likely to stay without suitable jobs, but L'Esperance and Rioux say there are jobs to be filled.
"We need francophone candidates in our hospitality and service industries, in our health care, all throughout Nova Scotia," said L'Esperance.
"We have a vibrant francophone community and we want to make sure that there's room for francophone newcomers throughout the province and that they feel welcome here as well."
Rioux said the good news is that Nova Scotia needs people in the health and education sectors, among others.
Over the past year, more than 16,300 new immigrants have settled in francophone-minority communities across Canada, according to a federal government release on Monday.
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