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 french.

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

9:35 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

At the Department of Public Works and Government Services, in 2010-2011, after the third year of the roadmap, 30% of the funding was spent on the university scholarships program in translation and only 39% was spent on the language industry initiative. Could you tell me why?

9:35 a.m.

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

Donna Achimov

Yes. Although launching the program was a challenge, we spent the money and we had some good results. We had some momentum and we already have the numbers to demonstrate that we have used the money well.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Gourde, the floor is yours.

March 27th, 2012 / 9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to thank all the witnesses for being here. It is really very interesting. I think it is one of those mornings with high-calibre witnesses.

I was really moved by Justin Morrow’s presentation, because he made us see a new reality.

By the way, Mr. Morrow, let me congratulate you on studying at Université Laval in Quebec City, which is a very good university. Those who had the chance to play on the Rouge et Or team were considered stars by the people in the Quebec City region.

I think it is the first time a witness has told us about this new reality. Of course, it is often a matter of francophones living in anglophone communities, or vice versa, but there is a new reality in Canada, and I think it marks the growth of our linguistic duality. It is hard for bilingual individuals to find their own space. As you said, they only listen to English channels on TV, or just French channels, whereas truly bilingual people switch from one language to another with their friends. It is a new Canadian reality. It is really interesting and I think you are the first one to raise our awareness of this new reality. You have helped the committee move forward without realizing; it is something we need to tackle.

New tools have been developed by the Department of Public Works and Government Services. I am thinking of the Language Portal of Canada. I think you talked about it last year when you appeared before the committee. It is really a wonderful tool for bilingual people and for those who wish to learn the other language. At some point, we need tools and we all have to make an individual effort to learn a second language. Could you tell me about how this tool has evolved since last year’s presentation? Do you know how many people might have used it? How have you been promoting it?

9:35 a.m.

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

Donna Achimov

Thank you for your question.

We have had a lot of success with this tool. We started with 14 million recorded visits and this number has since gone up.

It has had 14 million hits.

We did some really targeted advertising. We worked on search engines in terms of keywords so that we were able to increase our hits for a very small amount of money. This is a really good lesson learned.

It is a good lesson for people who want to advertise through search engines. It is worthwhile increasing visibility through search engines. We have also benefited from great publicity on university campuses where there are a number of minority communities.

We had word of mouth and used community newspapers.

We found that once people start to use the portal, one friend tells another friend. As Mr. Olivier mentioned earlier, the fact that we now have the ability to e-mail, or to send a tweet, has allowed us to really have an incredible explosion and I think a positive explosion of usage of the portal.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

I think the interactive component of the Language Portal of Canada and its almost daily updates are useful. This tool is constantly being improved.

If I were to ask you whether this tool has to be maintained year-round, I am sure that you would say yes. But could you give us an idea of how much money it would cost to maintain this tool in the future, year after year?

9:35 a.m.

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

Donna Achimov

That is a good question. It really depends on future improvements and on our users' expectations. It becomes expensive when people want to create other ways of communicating. For instance, we are working on creating an iPhone and BlackBerry app. That's a bit expensive. It will be a bit difficult for the first app because of all the experiments. But, once the first app is developed, it will be easier to do the others.

In our view, it is worthwhile sharing the information and lessons learned. That helps to continue in the future. We are in the process of studying the best way to have partners, to reduce our costs and to ensure the portal and other tools are sustainable. We have formed alliances and partnerships with other organizations. Our philosophy is that it is not just up to us to create applications and to improve the portal. I think that will make it a lot easier to keep the portal alive in the future.

We're working with other partners. We're no longer looking, and we haven't been looking, at being the only ones creating content on the web. Because of our many partnerships across the country with different organizations, we are using the portal as a window and allowing people to share their content.

We're looking for effective ways to continue to keep the portal alive, fresh, and moving forward.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

I have one final question for Justin Morrow, since I only have one minute left.

How do you see the future? How would you like your organization to help people like yourself, bilingual people who are new to Canada and who want to stay in our country?

9:40 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

Are you asking me how I see our organization?

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Yes, your organization. And what tools do you need?

9:40 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

Mr. Chair and members of the committee, we need one thing right now and that is a web-based platform. That would bring people to our site.

to bring students in and match them up with the post-secondary French-language learning opportunities that exist. That's the one thing we need right now.

Over the past three years we have focused, and we've had tons of amazing great ideas. Thanks to the wonderful support of Canadian Heritage, we've brought that into one activity that we're going to concentrate on for the next three to five years.

The only thing we need is that information, a web-based platform, that we can start to measure and connect young people with the experiences. Once we have that established, then we can start looking into different options, but that's going to be in about three to five years.

We don't really need much right now but that one web-based platform, and then we will be in business and we will make things happen.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you, Mr. Gourde.

It is now Mr. Bélanger's turn.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for being here this morning. I would have liked to see the two groups take turns. We could have gone into depth with each of you, from the agency and the department's perspective and then from the perspective of Canadian Parents for French and Canadian Youth for French. I think we should have done the two exercises separately. I am a bit disappointed that we don't have the time to go more in depth with each of you.

I am going to ask questions without expecting any answers today. However, I hope that you will send the information to the clerk of the committee, who will then forward it to the members of the committee.

I am talking to the people from Public Works and Government Services Canada. Madam, I am not familiar with the program you are talking about, which allows 145 students to do an internship in the private sector and in which $1.3 million are invested. I would like to become familiar with that program. What are the criteria, how is it promoted, who has access to the program, which companies participate and how are they chosen, and so on? I would like to have a rather detailed definition of the program, since I must admit that I am not familiar with it.

As for TERMIUM, I am happy to see that things are progressing well. But I am sort of wondering about the other languages. I see that there are 200,000 Spanish terms and 18,000 Portuguese terms. I have no objection to that, but I would like to know if the plan is to include other languages. If so, which languages and how quickly, and where would the money come from for those languages? I am curious about that.

This question is for the representatives from FedDev Ontario. How many employees do you have?

9:45 a.m.

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

Jeff Moore

There are about 200.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

When you say that 22% of your employees have bilingual positions, does that mean that 22% of your employees are bilingual?