Evidence of meeting #27 for Official Languages in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was health.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Andrée Duchesne  Senior Counsel and Manager, Francophonie, Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism, Department of Justice
  • Linda DuPont  Legal Counsel, Francophonie, Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism, Department of Justice
  • Debbie Beresford-Green  Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Regions and Programs Branch, Health Canada
  • Roger Farley  Acting Director General, Programs Directorate, Regions and Programs Branch, Health Canada
  • Jean-Pierre Corbeil  Chief Specialist, Language Statistics Section, Statistics Canada

8:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Welcome to the 27th meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages on this Tuesday, February 28, 2012. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3), on the agenda today we have our study on the evaluation of the roadmap: improving programs and service delivery.

We will be hearing from three groups of witnesses: Ms. DuPont and Ms. Duchesne, from the Department of Justice; Ms. Beresford-Green and Mr. Farley, from Health Canada; and Mr. Corbeil and Mr. Nault, from Statistics Canada.

Welcome to all our witnesses. We will begin with the representatives of the Department of Justice.

8:45 a.m.

Andrée Duchesne Senior Counsel and Manager, Francophonie, Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism, Department of Justice

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My name is Andrée Duchesne, Senior Counsel and Manager of the Justice in Official Languages Unit within Justice Canada's Office of la Francophonie, Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism. I am here with my colleague, Linda DuPont, Legal Counsel within the same unit.

As you know, Justice Canada is one of the partners of the roadmap. Our office, together with the department’s Programs Branch, manages the programs identified in the roadmap, including the Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund and the Contraventions Act Fund. Under the roadmap, justice is one of five priority service sectors for official language minority communities.

The justice sector, traditionally considered to be concerned mainly with judges, lawyers, and the court system, is in fact much broader in scope. It is first and foremost a sector that provides services to the population, which involves many levels of interaction. Think only of social workers, police officers, probation officers, mediators, or community organizations that provide education and guidance to seniors, new immigrants, at-risk youth, and other groups.

More and more Canadians faced with a legal problem choose to defend their own rights and interests, putting additional pressure on the system for easy-to-understand and accessible legal information services in both official languages. Departmental data supports this: Canadians are increasingly looking for relevant legal information to help them take care of a problem quickly at the lowest cost possible, both to the justice system and to their own wallet.

Allow me first to provide you with some background to the consultation mechanism that Justice Canada established nearly 10 years ago and that enables us to work closely with our government and non-government partners. We co-chair the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages, and we chair the Advisory Committee on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages. Both groups meet on a yearly basis. The FPT working group’s meeting took place on February 16 and 17, 2012, and the advisory committee will meet on March 15 and 16. The advisory committee includes our non-government partners. Beyond these formal mechanisms, we also maintain ongoing ties with all our partners.

Justice Canada has received $93 million over five years under the road map, and this sum was allocated as follows: $49.5 million to secure agreements with the provinces for the implementation of the Contraventions Act, $41 million to improve access to justice in both official languages, and $2.5 million for the accountability and coordination framework.

The Contraventions Act provides an alternative to the summary conviction procedure of the Criminal Code for the prosecution of certain offences under federal statutes and regulations. It allows certain federal offences to be prosecuted, using provincial court processes, by means of a ticketing scheme.

The Contraventions Act Fund was established to support the implementation of the Contraventions Act in a manner consistent with all applicable constitutional and legislative language rights. The fund provides financial assistance to the provinces and territories that have implemented the Contraventions Act in order to increase their capacity to offer justice services. To date, five provinces have signed contribution agreements to this effect, that is British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. These provinces, in addition to New Brunswick and Quebec, are able to provide services in both official languages for proceedings brought under the Contraventions Act. Discussions with the other jurisdictions are ongoing.

The principles that led to the creation of the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund were improving access to justice services and knowledge and understanding of language rights by Canadian citizens and the legal community, and developing a training initiative to help justice system stakeholders provide services to Canadians in the official language of their choice, especially in the area of criminal matters.

Since its creation the support fund has helped make the justice system more accessible, more relevant, and better able to meet the needs of Canadians.

Now I will hand the floor over to my colleague Linda, who will explain certain roadmap projects to you in greater depth.

8:50 a.m.

Linda DuPont Legal Counsel, Francophonie, Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism, Department of Justice

The roadmap shows the amount indicated by my colleague, that is $41 million, and an additional investment of $20 million that was allocated specifically for training to improve the language skills of people working in the justice system and to recruit and train young bilingual Canadians considering a career in justice.

In order to properly allocate this investment, the Justice Department commissioned an analysis, which was conducted in 2008 and 2009, with the participation, contribution and collaboration of all provinces and territories. The report, entitled Canada-Wide Analysis of Official Language Training Needs in the Area of Justice, has provided Justice Canada with strategic information and avenues to help consolidate the training activities already undertaken and focus efforts in areas where needs are only partially met.

Thus new funding applicants for projects and initiatives designed to address the needs identified are being added to the department's long list of partners.

In the last few months new projects have been received from universities and non-governmental organizations that provide direct services to the population. We wish to present a few specific examples.

The Centre canadien de français juridique offers legal training to justice system stakeholders, including crown prosecutors, probation officers and court clerks. The centre is currently helping develop and design a specialized training program adapted to the needs and realities of criminal court judges. It is also developing electronic tools and resources for continuing education and skills maintenance. The centre makes a positive and concrete contribution to the number of justice stakeholders who are able to provide services in both official languages, which corresponds exactly to the areas for government action identified in the roadmap.

The Canada-wide analysis suggested that the law schools of the Canadian universities offer courses specifically on the practice of law in both official languages. The University of Manitoba and the University of Alberta have decided to improve their law program by offering courses to help students learn French legal terminology and acquire knowledge and skills in the practice of law in French.

The University of Alberta has developed partnerships with English-speaking organizations for the creation of a community justice centre whose objective is to promote access to justice by serving as a one-stop resource for information, support, and guidance for citizens dealing with a law issue. This project is developed jointly with the Centre for Public Legal Education of Alberta, which also receives a contribution from the support fund to develop tools and resources to inform the English-speaking community of the linguistic rights of the francophone minority, and to provide simplified, accessible, and adapted information on access to justice in both official languages.

These projects, like many others funded by the support fund, aim the services directly at Canadians without going through the more traditional forums, such as courts and lawyers.

Éducaloi has been active in the area of legal education and information in Quebec for many years. The support fund contributes financially to Éducaloi's activities as part of its offer of services to Quebec's anglophone community, more specifically in the development of its website.

Éducaloi's work is based on an approach that is adapted to the needs of this clientele rather than one based on translation. This enables Éducaloi to reach Quebec's anglophone and allophone communities whose first official language spoken is English.

The Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario, better known by the acronym AJEFO, is recognized as an organization serving not only Ontario's francophone community, but all French-speaking citizens outside Quebec. AJEFO launched its website, www.cliquezjustice.ca, on February 22.

That constitutes a portal for French legal information for the general public. It targets the needs not only of Ontario's French-speaking population but also of francophones in all the other provinces as well. The component related to other provinces will be operational later this year, as the process is currently being validated with provincial partners. What is different about this portal and the information it contains is its target clientele. It's specifically aimed at elementary and high school students and their teachers and counsellors. It offers games and learning resources for students and tools specifically designed for teachers.

The general public will also have access to legal informational matters of law in clear and simplified language. Once the information from the other provinces is validated, the French-speaking population in these provinces will also have access to the same information the Franco-Ontarian population has. This step is expected to be completed in the coming months.

8:55 a.m.

Senior Counsel and Manager, Francophonie, Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism, Department of Justice

Andrée Duchesne

We now come to the conclusion.

These projects are the tangible and concrete results of concerted efforts from different justice system stakeholders to help improve access to justice.

We believe that the work accomplished by our department helps improve access to justice for the two million Canadians in minority language situations. Our department will soon complete the summative evaluation of the support fund and the Contraventions Act fund so that the data can be used to document the road map's horizontal evaluation.

We thank you for your attention and will be happy to answer your questions.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

I invite the representative from Health Canada to take the floor. You have 10 minutes, please.

8:55 a.m.

Debbie Beresford-Green Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Regions and Programs Branch, Health Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My name is Debbie Beresford-Green. I am Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Regions and Programs Branch, at Health Canada. I am here today with Roger Farley, Acting Director General of Health Canada's Programs Directorate.

First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting us and for giving us this opportunity to come before the committee and testify to the support that Health Canada provides to official language minority communities across the country. Mr. Farley will be able to answer your questions about Health Canada initiatives that were funded under the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality 2008-2013.

As assistant deputy minister, I am responsible for the implementation of part VII of the Official Languages Act at Health Canada. It is also my branch that manages the Official Languages Health Contribution Program, which was funded under the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality.

Health Canada's initiatives help to provide official language minority communities with increased access to health care in their language of choice. These initiatives are designed to reduce the language barriers faced by English and French linguistic minority communities. There is growing evidence that presents below average health status for Canada's official language minority communities. These communities also experience significant difficulty obtaining services in their language.

When we need health care, we inevitably need to revert to our mother tongue no matter how well we speak our second official language. Access to health care in the official language of one's choice should be available, no matter which province or region we live in.

Since 2003 Health Canada has funded initiatives that are targeted to the needs of official language minority communities. From 2003 to 2008 Health Canada received $119 million through the action plan for official languages, and for the period 2008 to 2013 the department was allocated $174.3 million under the road map for Canada's linguistic duality. Each year Health Canada has invested its full allocation in initiatives under those programs.

Since 2008 the department has delivered the official languages community health program under the road map, consisting of three key components: health networks; support for training and retention of health professionals; and health projects that facilitate access in communities. For 2010-2011, $36.8 million was spent under the program.

I'm also pleased to say that the Commissioner of Official Languages has highlighted on a number of occasions in his annual report the positive results achieved in the area of health. For example, in his annual report of 2010-2011, he points out that “members of French-speaking communities outside of Quebec often have difficulty obtaining health care services in their language”, but that “the situation is improving”, and that is thanks in part to initiatives managed by Health Canada.

The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages recently reported on progress in improving health services in its report entitled “The Vitality of Quebec's English-Speaking Communities: From Myth to Reality”. According to the report, the progress that has been made is a source of inspiration in strengthening Quebec's English-speaking communities in other areas that affect their development. Again, this progress has been attributed in part to the programming delivered by Health Canada.

Now I will hand the floor over to Mr. Farley, who will talk to you about Health Canada's contributions program in a little more detail.

Thank you.

9 a.m.

Roger Farley Acting Director General, Programs Directorate, Regions and Programs Branch, Health Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members.

As we mentioned, the Official Languages Health Contribution Program is made up of three components: health networking, training and retention of health professionals, and health projects for communities.

The first component of the program supports health networks, through the Société Santé en français for francophones outside Quebec, and through the Community Health and Social Services Network for Quebec's English-speaking communities.

These networks engage health care stakeholders to enable improvements to health care services access in the minority official language. These stakeholders include provincial and territorial government representatives, health care administrators and health care professionals. The work of the networks is meant to leverage the introduction of new services in the communities they serve.

An example of this is the creation of the Saint-Thomas health centre, which is the first francophone community health centre in Alberta. Another example is the establishment of a bilingual health services centre in Halifax's regional municipality.

In Quebec, the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages has highlighted the work of the Community Health and Social Services Network. This network has signed an implementation framework with the Quebec Health and Social Services System in order to improve access to health and social services for Quebec's English-speaking communities.

The second component, training and retention of health professionals, is piloted by the Consortium national de formation en santé and its member institutions outside of Quebec and by McGill University in Quebec. The consortium's members--that is, the francophone universities and colleges outside Quebec--receive funding from Health Canada to increase the number of positions available in their training programs in areas of health. Since 2008, 1,530 graduates of these training programs have joined the pool of health care workers available to provide services in various regions of Canada in the minority official language.

According to a study carried out with the 2008-2009 batch of graduates, not less than 86% of them are now practising a health-care profession in official language minority communities, be it as nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, speech-language pathologists, and so on.

Thanks to the family medicine training program at the Centre de formation médicale du Nouveau-Brunswick, which is funded in part by Health Canada, the first batch of 14 students obtained their degrees in 2010. Before that, francophone medical students had to go to the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec to complete their schooling.

In Quebec an entirely different approach was adopted to ensure that the English-speaking communities have access to health care services in English regardless of the region they live in. As the Standing Committee on Official Languages recently reminded us, the availability of English-language health care services varies greatly, depending on whether you are in the Montreal region or the Côte-Nord region.

To ensure that a large number of health care professionals are able to provide health care in English, particularly in regions where access is restricted, McGill University offers language training to health professionals who are already members of the workforce. From 2008 to 2011, McGill trained 3,766 health care professionals through its language-training project.

Lastly, the third component of the program, health projects for official language minority communities is intended to favour the integration of services and improve access to care in minority languages. In Quebec these projects are essentially aimed at promoting health or adopting existing services.

Outside Quebec there are projects aimed at improving access to services for the elderly, children and youth, as well as health promotion projects. In total, 151 projects have received funding from Health Canada under the roadmap. An example of these projects is the creation in Vancouver of a multidisciplinary mental health team that provides support for disadvantaged francophones suffering from addiction.

Société Santé en français has also partly funded a health promotion and disease prevention project in the Ottawa area for French-speaking newcomers to Canada.

In the fall of 2011, an evaluation was launched to examine the program's suitability and performance in accordance with the Government of Canada's evaluation policy. Data is currently being collected so that the final report can be completed, as scheduled, for the summer of 2012.

I will now give the floor to Ms. Beresford-Green.

9:05 a.m.

Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Regions and Programs Branch, Health Canada

Debbie Beresford-Green

Thank you.

In conclusion, I would like to mention that, in 2011, we consulted representatives of French-speaking communities outside Quebec and English-speaking communities in Quebec. The aim of these consultations was to learn their views on the evolving health care needs of communities over the 2013-2018 horizon. For French-speaking communities, a consultation forum was organized on March 22 and 23, 2011, in Ottawa, and a summary report of the consultation was then made public.

In Quebec, the Quebec Community Groups Network was tasked with seeking input from English-speaking communities in each region of Quebec. A report on these consultations has recently been submitted to Health Canada.

We will continue to work with our partners across the country to promote access to health care in the official language minority communities in conjunction with provinces and territories.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We'd be pleased to respond to any questions.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

We will now move on to the presentation by the Statistics Canada representative.

9:05 a.m.

Jean-Pierre Corbeil Chief Specialist, Language Statistics Section, Statistics Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My name is Jean-Pierre Corbeil. I am responsible for the Language Statistics Section, and I am here with my colleague, François Nault, who is director of the Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.

I want to thank the members of the committee for inviting Statistics Canada to appear and offer input into their discussions on evaluating the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality and, possibly, on the direction of a future Government of Canada horizontal initiative on official languages. Although Statistics Canada is not directly targeted by the roadmap, the agency plays a special role because of its liaison with a number of federal departments to whom the roadmap is directed, people in the research community, and, above all, many representatives of official language minority communities.

In my speech, I will try to briefly present a few of the key findings that emerge from the various studies conducted by Statistics Canada's Language Statistics Section in support of the roadmap and the official language minority communities in Canada.

For the past 30 years, or since 1981, the number of people outside Quebec with French as their first official language spoken has increased from one census to the next. Between 1996 and 2006, this francophone population grew by approximately 26,500. However, its demographic weight within the Canadian population outside Quebec declined from 4.5% to 4.2%. In this regard, the demographic reality is unrelenting. In any given year, Canada receives between 240,000 and 265,000 new immigrants, 80% of whom settle outside Quebec and among all these immigrants settling outside Quebec, slightly less than 2% have French as their first official language spoken.

With regard to education, a remarkable progress among the youngest generations of francophones has been observed, as they are generally more likely to hold a university degree and to have an income equal to or greater than that of their English-speaking counterparts. The demographic forces at work are such that since the Dunton-Laurendeau Commission, the socio-economic situation of French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec has greatly improved. However, this improvement has not necessarily benefited the vitality of the French language, as evidenced by the anglicization of many francophones. In fact, we know that almost 4 in 10 francophones outside Quebec live in municipalities where they represent less than 10% of the population. This situation directly affects the opportunities for francophones to use French outside the home and receive services in French.

Data from the Survey on the Vitality of Official-Language Minorities, conducted by Statistics Canada in 2006 in partnership with 10 federal departments and agencies, show that 89% of francophones living outside Quebec consider it important that linguistic rights be respected in their province and 84% state that it's important to them that government services be provided in French.

International immigration has a major impact on the current and evolving situation of francophone minority communities. With the aging of the francophone population, along with its interprovincial migratory exchanges that favour Quebec, francophone minority communities rely heavily on international immigration as a factor to ensure their future. This reliance is not without its pitfalls. Many challenges face immigrants who settle in francophone minority communities, especially as regards economic and social integration. Our consultations with representatives of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada shed light on the importance of better understanding those challenges, as well as the needs, obstacles and dynamics that favour or impede the integration of immigrants.

In this respect, community stakeholders have expressed great interest in having Statistics Canada conduct a survey of the roughly 150,000 French-speaking immigrants outside Quebec so that they can be better equipped to face the challenges of the coming decades.

For their part, anglophone communities in Quebec face different challenges. The difference is notably due to the fact that, unlike the situation observed among francophones living outside Quebec, the use of English by anglophones in Quebec is much less dependent on the size and share of their population in the municipalities where they live. Thus, almost 85% of them reported using English alone or together with French in the public sphere.

Among francophones living outside Quebec, 42% reported using French outside the home. This proportion is less than 30% in the provinces east of New Brunswick and less than 10% in those west of Manitoba.

Statistics Canada data have shown that in Quebec immigrants account for nearly one-third of the English-speaking population, compared with 7% of the French-speaking population. Despite the fact that Quebec anglophones generally have a high education level, some of them, especially those who have recently immigrated, have trouble fully integrating into the labour market.

While a larger proportion of anglophones than francophones in Quebec have an annual income exceeding $100,000, paradoxically a larger proportion of them also live below the low-income threshold. Additionally, our analyses have shown that Quebec anglophones, among others, are substantially under-represented in the provincial civil service. Furthermore, because of their high mobility, young people in these minority communities are also more likely to move to other provinces or outside Canada, a situation that poses considerable challenges for those concerned with the vitality of their communities.

The road map on linguistic duality mainly emphasizes official language minorities. However, 2011 census results released on February 8 highlight the growing importance of international immigration as a driver of Canada's population growth. Yet Quebec's demographic share within the Canadian federation has declined by approximately one percentage point every ten years since 1961. This decline is due to the fact that Quebec has received fewer immigrants over the years than its demographic weight would warrant within the Canadian federation and also due to the sizeable population growth in the provinces west of Ontario.

The concept of Canada's linguistic duality should therefore take into consideration the fact that of the roughly 9.6 million Canadians who speak French, 73% live in Quebec. This is also the case for 86% of Canadians for whom French is the first official language spoken.

Another aspect of linguistic duality is the learning of French as a second language. The data collected by Statistics Canada reveal major challenges on the horizon in this regard. For example, we know that between 1996 and 2006, the proportion of young anglophones aged 15 to 19 able to conduct a conversation in French fell three percentage points, from 16.3% to 13%. Furthermore, this ability to speak French declines in the years after leaving the school environment.

This being said, statistics on school attendance show both a setback and an improvement: the setback regards decreased numbers of enrolments in regular French as a second language programs, down by 225,000 over the last decade. In terms of improvement, the number of youths attending a French immersion program has increased by 51,000 during the same period. Despite this progress, the total proportion of students outside Quebec who are being exposed at school to learning French as a second language has fallen from 53% to 44% in the past 20 years. Moreover, it is important to note that since education is a provincial jurisdiction, the teaching of French as a second language is not compulsory in the provinces west of Ontario. These are, of course, only a few of the findings emerging from our analyses.

I would like to stress that our partners—especially those in community organizations—have often told us how important it is for them to have access to the wealth of information produced by Statistics Canada. Despite important advances, there are many challenges. It should be recognized that very different realities exist depending on whether one lives in northern New Brunswick, Toronto, Saskatchewan, Yukon or the Gaspé region of Quebec. These differences are clearly shown in the various studies conducted by Statistics Canada since the start of the period covered by the current roadmap. The studies include 11 highly-detailed provincial and territorial portraits of official language minorities in Canada. Each portrait provides considerable information on topics that include the roadmap's five priority sectors as well as education and the communities' demographic vitality.

Since the start of the roadmap, Statistics Canada has found innovative ways to meet the needs of Canadians for language statistics. Many of our partners told us of their needs for information on such varied topics as access to health care in their language of choice, immigration into a minority environment, French immersion programs, literacy and adult skills or economic development, to name a few.

Statistics Canada responded to many of these needs by publishing a major monograph entitled Languages in Canada: 2006 Census, an analytical report on the French-speaking immigrant population outside Quebec, a report on health care professionals and official language minorities in Canada, as well as a conceptual study on the economic development of official language minority communities.

In closing, Statistics Canada, in its efforts to implement section 41 of the Official Languages Act, has taken a number of positive measures that provide minority language community members with statistical and analytical information. Along these lines, Statistics Canada enables these communities to benefit from its expertise so that they can have the tools they need to better develop their programs and services. This need is reflected in the many requests for data and consultation that Statistics Canada receives from these communities. Based on the future needs and interests of its community and government partners, Statistics Canada intends to continue supporting their actions in promoting the development of official language communities and Canada's linguistic duality.

Thank you.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you, everyone.

We have about an hour and a half for questions and comments.

Mr. Godin, you have the floor.

9:15 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

First, I would like to ask the Statistics Canada representative a question.

In 2007, you conducted a survey on the vitality of the official language minorities at the end of the Action Plan for Official Languages.

Are you going to conduct the same survey for the roadmap? These figures are essential in evaluating the performance of the roadmap and in making comparisons. Will you do that or have you been asked to do it?

9:15 a.m.

Chief Specialist, Language Statistics Section, Statistics Canada

Jean-Pierre Corbeil

My answer will be brief. As I mentioned, that survey was conducted through a partnership involving 10 federal government departments and agencies. As you mentioned, it was done in the context of the first action plan. That survey cost $7.5 million. For the moment, no interest has been expressed in conducting another survey of that kind.

9:15 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

You mean that we spent $7 million to determine how far we'd come?

Do you think that was a good survey by Statistics Canada? Did it provide the government with good data so that it could adopt a better approach to the roadmap?

9:20 a.m.

Chief Specialist, Language Statistics Section, Statistics Canada

Jean-Pierre Corbeil

It was definitely an excellent survey to the extent that it was the first time there had been one of that scope. It should be pointed out that the survey specifically targeted 15,000 parents who were interviewed and 19,000 minority francophones and anglophones. So the 11 theme portraits that we produced, totalling nearly 1,200 pages of analysis, of course provided us with an extreme wealth of information on the subject.

However, as we know, to measure progress, you obviously have to be able to measure it over time, a little later, after an initial survey.