Evidence of meeting #32 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 roadmap.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Graham Fraser  Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
  • Sylvain Giguère  Assistant Commissioner, Policy and Communications Branch, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
  • Lise Cloutier  Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Management Branch, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

10:15 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

I believe it was three years ago. I'll put the question to Ms. Cloutier, who, in a way, is in charge of this.

March 15th, 2012 / 10:15 a.m.

Lise Cloutier Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Management Branch, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

We've had a signed submission since July 2011. We are waiting for a decision on the matter.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

You made a submission in July 2011, but you have received no response regarding the funding you need to discharge your official language responsibilities. Is that correct?

10:15 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

As I said—

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Fraser, I don't want a political answer. In July 2011, you submitted to the Conservative government a request that is important for the country's minority communities. You said at the outset that you understood budget cuts would be made in the current circumstances, but can we afford more cuts within the minority communities that are subject to violations? You receive complaints concerning violations virtually every day.

We are talking about conducting a study on the 150th anniversary in 2017. However, since the 2002 election, the roadmap has been all we talk about. Despite that, our communities are subject to numerous violations. To top it all off, the Conservative government has not yet told you what is happening with your funding. Your computer system is obsolete. You say you understand that there may be more cuts. I don't want to be nasty with you, Mr. Fraser, but where else do you want cuts to be made?

10:20 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

I have previously designated a sector where I think funding is not allocated effectively. I'm talking about bilingualism bonuses. Like my predecessors, I believe they do not achieve the desired objective.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Fraser, section 43 in part VII of the Official Languages Act states:

(d) encourage and assist provincial governments to support the development of English and French linguistic minority communities generally and, in particular, to offer provincial and municipal services in both English and French and to provide opportunities for members of English or French linguistic minority communities to be educated in their own language;

The government is responsible for transferring funding to the provinces. You say that it is not part of your mandate to verify whether the money goes to the right place. You also said that officials and ministers had said they used that funding for other purposes.

What are our commissioner's powers? If you are unable to investigate in the province, you could at least do so in the departments in order to see whether there is any accountability.

10:20 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

I'm trying to follow that as closely as possible. I'm conducting investigations and audits in the federal institutions to determine how they are discharging their obligations under the Official Languages Act.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Fraser, even the Office of the Auditor General has had cuts and been unable to conduct certain investigations. Now it's difficult even for your office to do it. Is that true?

10:20 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

It has to be said that we are experiencing an annual negative growth because we absorb a number of costs. For example, wage increases negotiated by the government are absorbed by each institution. So we are undergoing cuts on an annual basis.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Fraser, if there are further budget cuts, you won't be able to discharge your responsibilities as an officer of Parliament.

10:20 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

And that's why we made that submission to the Treasury Board. We want to modernize, update and protect the integrity of our technological system.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I believe you favour one group of individuals. Do you favour one? Are you asking the Treasury Board president to put an end to that, with the Speaker of the House? Are you asking to have the control group put in place so that you can speak out?

10:20 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

Absolutely.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Do you think there is an urgent need for that to be done?