Evidence of meeting #33 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 portal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Donna Achimov  Chief Executive Officer, Translation Bureau, Department of Public Works and Government Services
  • Marc Olivier  Manager, Translation Bureau, Linguistic Services Division, Department of Public Works and Government Services
  • Jeff Moore  Vice-President, Policy, Partnerships and Performance Management, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • Lisa Marie Perkins  President, National Office, Canadian Parents for French
  • Justin Morrow  Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French
  • Robert Rothon  Executive Director, National Office, Canadian Parents for French
  • Susan Anzolin  Director General, Innovation and Economic Development, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you very much, Mr. Harris.

Mr. Moore.

10:25 a.m.

Vice-President, Policy, Partnerships and Performance Management, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Jeff Moore

We actually target more than just science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We also have a number of other programs that we deliver like the EDI program under the road map. We have the community futures development corporations program, which provides assistance to communities on a number of levels. Also, under our southern Ontario advantage initiative, we have the prosperity initiative, which also targets fairly broadly SMEs and not-for-profit organizations involved in productivity enhancements and innovation, as well as regional diversification. So we do quite a bit more than just the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics areas.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Boughen.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Thank you, Chair.

Welcome to the panel. Thanks for taking time to share your morning with us.

It may have been said and I may have missed it, but Donna, I'm talking about your program. Has that been made available to schools, or do you have some relationships, some interface with elementary and secondary schools that utilize that material?

10:25 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Translation Bureau, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Donna Achimov

Mr. Chair and committee members, yes, we work very closely with the school system. We deliberately set up the portal to be accessible to students. We have a great deal of content that we've been able to gather, as you can see, that deals with students, in particular, at various levels. So it is a really good resource, and certainly we work with our partners to make sure that the information is shared and readily available through the school system—with universities as well as across the board.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

That's good, because I can see that it certainly has a place in schools across Canada, particularly those that are in isolated parts of the country, where there's no access to people who can work through that area.

I have one question for Mr. Morrow. Did you say you only had funding for two projects?

10:30 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

That's what we have so far.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Why was that? Did you just run out of money?

10:30 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

No, that was just the timing, the way things go. We have to prove ourselves. I have nothing against the fact that we've had only two, except that there was one whole year where we missed out on funding because we had just started and we didn't meet the deadline. That was why I suggested an innovative fund for individuals with good ideas so that somebody can do that.

Our first grant was there at the beginning. That allowed us to test. For our second grant, we had these grand ideas and they gave us $60,000. We wanted more, but this is what we started with, and with that everything changed again. Those two grants allowed us to streamline our processes to the point where we now have one solid, concrete thing that we hope we're going to be able to roll out. We have two applications on the table right now that we hope will get approved, and then we can start to go forward with something concrete and feasible.

So before we might have been a little too much in the clouds, but those two have really streamlined us into doing something concrete.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Good. Thank you.

Thanks, Chair.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

Monsieur Aubin.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I said that I would have questions for the representatives of Canadian Parents for French, and here we are, in my second round.

I really appreciated what I have heard from you this morning. I am a former teacher from Quebec. In 25 years of teaching, I found it quite easy to see the students' motivation for learning a second language, which was English in our area. It's obvious if you want to surf the Internet; it is the language of business, of research, of science. Learning English is almost second nature; it is more than a second language for us, it is a necessity. But my students were also interested in other languages; they talked to me about Spanish and Mandarin and so on. How do you succeed in promoting French as a second language in an English-speaking environment?

I find what you are telling me to be refreshing, but the statistics tell us that we have not reached the targets we set for ourselves. Is French really the second language? Are people not tending towards Spanish, or Mandarin, or German, and so on, for a second language? How do you see things in your communities?

10:30 a.m.

President, National Office, Canadian Parents for French

Lisa Marie Perkins

Thank you.

We feel that you have to give parents and school systems the information they need to make the choice.

I have many parents who come and ask me exactly that question of why French, why not Spanish, or why not Mandarin or something else. I think that has a lot to do with misinformation, or perhaps a lack of information, on our part, as to the benefits of French.

First of all, as I tell them, French is the only other language, besides English, spoken on every continent. It is truly another international language.

They always ask if French is harder to learn than Spanish or Japanese.

My answer is always, no, a second language is always a second language.

The benefit of learning French is that we have the opportunity to be immersed.

We have resources like Radio-Canada, TERMIUM and the activities that

that Justin Morrow and Canadian Youth for French offer students. They're getting the benefits of an enhanced program that we, only in Canada, can offer.

Three, from a purely nationalistic perspective, French is our other language, and it gives us the opportunity to participate fully in the experience of being Canadian.

As Robert said earlier, we see it as the springboard to being plurilingual. By learning both languages, we are open to learning more. By being diverse in both, we are able to be diverse in the world.

I think it's our bilingualism, in reality, when immigrants are choosing Canada. They know that we work hard—sometimes maybe not as successfully as we would like—at embracing both sides of ourselves. They know that we can accommodate others in a very comforting and nice way. We have a lot of practice at it.

I think that's a big part of our economic advantage to the world.

10:35 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

Just as they say, French is a springboard to other languages, and we strongly believe that. Start with French and then expand your horizons after that.

In Canada we're extremely fortunate to have the network already in place. We have the teachers, the radio stations, the TV stations, the Internet—all of the resources are already in French. If we are to learn a second language, it should be French first.

Then, once we've established that second language, learning a third language is so much easier. As Canadian Parents for French said, French is a springboard to other things. With the network that's already in place, it just makes sense.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you.

You said earlier that you received money for two projects. The first was for $45,000, but you did not have time to talk about the second. You look like someone who has very concrete ideas. Have you had any funding projects turned down?