Combining policy analysis with language policy and planning analysis, our article comparatively assesses two models of adult immigrants' language education in two very different provinces of the same federal country. In order to do so, we focus specifically on two questions: ' Why do governments provide language education to adults?' and ' How is it provided in the concrete setting of two of the biggest cities in Canada?' Beyond describing the two models of adult immigrants' language education in Quebec, British Columbia, and their respective largest cities, our article ponders whether and in what sense demography, language history, and the common federal framework can explain the similarities and differences between the two. These contextual elements can explain why cities continue to have so few responsibilities regarding the settlement, integration, and language education of newcomers. Only such understanding will eventually allow for proper reforms in terms of cities' responsibilities regarding immigration.