Ontario is Canada’s largest provincial economy and home to the country's second largest number of French speakers outside of Quebec. French-speaking workers are in high demand across the province, and Francophone businesses play a crucial role in the Ontario community and economy.

Employers across the Ontario economy are competing for workers with French language skills, and many employers require French speakers to fill customer service, sales associate, and client relations roles to service Franco-Ontarians or Francophones in Quebec. French skills are also valued across mid- and senior-level roles in education, governance, finance, insurance, HR, and many others.

Bilingual talent is hard to find and retain due to salary competition and French skill scarcity. Employers can boost recruitment and retention by forming reciprocal partnerships with Francophone community organizations and post-secondary institutions while improving workplace experiences for their French employees by avoiding problems like having them complete French-language tasks outside of their job descriptions.

Francophone newcomers are key to Ontario’s Francophone community and economy but face barriers to integration and employment, including accent and dialect preferences or “Canadian experience” preferences. Racialized Francophone newcomers to Ontario also face significant systemic challenges due to their status as both linguistic and racial minorities in the province. About 15% of Francophone workers in Ontario whose mother tongues include French are immigrants or nonpermanent residents. Francophone post-secondary institutions and community organizations play a crucial role in settlement services and reducing workforce entry barriers.

In sum, French skills offer Ontarians significant labour market advantages, including opportunities for advancement and bilingual salary premiums if used strategically. Low unemployment in the province, along with high demand for French-speaking talent, means that a new French-speaking graduate who is aware of the breadth of their options can leverage their language skills in many occupations.


To cite this report:

Erik Henningsmoen and Faun Rice. Mapping Career Pathways for Ontario’s Francophone and Bilingual Workforce Insights for Post-Secondaries, Employers, and Students. (Ottawa, ON: Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), August 2022).