Which Canadians are prospering the most right now? Francophones. It turns out that French speakers have lower rates of unemployment and earn higher salaries than other Canadians. The catch? According to a new report released by the Conference Board of Canada – this is mostly true for those Francophones who live outside of Quebec.

“Proficiency in both official languages can pay big dividends,” said Mario Lefebvre, director of the Centre for Municipal Studies at the Conference Board and author of the study.

The 61-page report points out that first language French speakers in Ontario have an average income of $41,045 which is above the provincial average of $39,386. Francophones in B.C. earn $38,883 while the average income is $34,978. Nunavut saw the most striking salary advantage for French speaking workers, where Francophones pull in a whopping $60,000 when the provincial average is only $38,000.

Francophones also historically experience lower unemployment rates than other Canadians in every province except New Brunswick. Looking at statistical data from past census reports, the report shows that unemployment among Francophones was 6.2% in Quebec, versus a provincial average of 7%. Francophones experienced 5.7% unemployment in Ontario at a time when the provincial rate was at 6.4%, and B.C. had a 4.8% unemployment rate for French speakers against a 6% average. Francophones in Alberta had 3.7% unemployed then the province overall had 4.3%.

“This difference may be due to the fact that many jobs in the public service require knowledge of French as well as English, which gives French workers an advantage,” say the report’s authors. “Given the relatively high wages in the public service, it is possible that the higher proportion of Francophone workers in this sector explains, at least in part, the higher income of Francophones versus other workers.”

The study is based on Statistics Canada census data from 2001 and 2006.


Peter Harris

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