The Quebec government’s efforts to teach immigrants French is a failure, according to an auditor general’s report released on Thursday.
According to the report, only one third of immigrants registered for free French courses offered by the Ministry of Immigration between 2010 and 2013. In addition, many who do enroll later drop out without any follow-up, with a drop-out rate of 18 per cent between 2012 and 2017 and 31 per cent leaving the advanced courses in 2016-17.
More scathingly, the report found that many of those who do complete the course are unable to function on a daily basis in French.
According to 2015 data, only 9 per cent of immigrants reached the oral “language independence threshold” set by the ministry. Reading and writing scores fared worse, with just 3.7 per cent passing in reading comprehension and 5.3 per cent in writing.
The “language independence threshold” is the minimum threshold necessary to enter the workforce or undertake post-secondary studies, according to the ministry.
Quebec has invested $74 million into the French-lesson program in 2016-17.
The report also alleged that some who do register never appear in class. Auditor General Guylaine Leclerc attributed this to long wait times between registration and the start of the course, which can often be as long as three months.
Leclerc noted that despite the questionable performance, the ministry has not performed an evaluation in years.
Between 2010 and 2016, 100,000 immigrants who didn’t speak French came to Quebec.
The report also noted failures in the ministry’s management of immigrant integration. While the ministry contributes $9 million per year to various organizations aimed at integrating newcomers into Quebec society, the auditor general found little analysis performed before signing contracts with the organizations. In some cases, agreements were signed year after year with the same entities without any due diligence.
The guidance provided by the ministry when entering into the agreements with partners was described as “inappropriate” in the report.