Evidence of meeting #37 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 community.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Josianne Beaumont  Second Vice-President, Board of Directors, Fédération franco-ténoise
  • Claire Beaubien  Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise
  • Mylène Chartrand  Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut
  • Mathieu René  Director, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut
  • Jules Custodio  President, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador
  • Éric Forgues  Researcher, Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities
  • Léo-Paul Provencher  Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise
  • Gaël Corbineau  Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

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

Thank you.

9:30 a.m.

Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut

Mylène Chartrand

I am thinking of some projects in particular. There was the language forum in Nunavut in 2009, and activities related to the forum. That led to Nunavut's legislation on official languages, that is to say Inuktitut, English and French. That represents very good progress for us because it has resulted in the obligation to provide services in French. We have reached the implementation stage, which should begin soon. The legislation is not yet in place, but that is coming.

The language forum also made it possible to launch a very exciting event for the community, anglophone, Inuit and francophone. These kinds of events are very important for the vitality of the communities and the advancement and awareness of linguistic duality. People in the north are in transition, and the community has to be very vital so that it can make people aware of linguistic duality in the north and for French-language services to be offered. These kinds of events increase people's awareness and promote French. Nunavut's Official Languages Act is a factor that has been very beneficial.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

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

What do you think of that, Mr. Corbineau?

9:30 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

Gaël Corbineau

I have a specific example illustrating how the roadmap can be a very significant lever for our communities. Many of us have mentioned early childhood services. As a result of the time allocated for the presentation, we were unable to go into a great deal of detail. When our child care centres are full, we are able to keep our children in a French-language environment. That makes it possible to expand the range of French-language services prior to kindergarten and thus covers the school and preschool stages.

When the school in St. John's opened in 2005, there were 35 students. In September, there will be 150. In 2015, we already know that we will have more than 250 students. Our school enrolment is undergoing explosive growth of 15% to 20% a year, partly because early childhood services are rounding out the continuum from child care to pre-kindergarten. As a result, we are taking care of children in French until they start school.

That is why early childhood services are important. We have to keep them in our francophone system.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

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

Are there any other comments on the second stage?

Was the initiative you just talked about put in place with assistance from the roadmap?

9:30 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

Gaël Corbineau

The roadmap provides partial funding for these early childhood services. Child care facilities such as the one in St. John's operate solely on revenue from parents. However, their introduction was supported by the Fédération des parents francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador, which is funded by the roadmap.

Today, junior kindergarten services make it possible for children to stay in contact with a francophone environment all week. They are still being assisted by the roadmap and that should continue.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

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

Unless I'm mistaken, the roadmap has been a lever enabling these organizations and parent associations to put child care centres and early childhood services in place.

9:30 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

Gaël Corbineau

Exactly. There will be an enormous benefit later on, and it will be seen in future school enrolment.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

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

Have you seen the same thing in the Territories?

9:30 a.m.

Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise

Léo-Paul Provencher

Absolutely.

In overall terms, the roadmap has enabled the 12 or 13 community organizations to create a more dynamic and more active living environment that is benefiting from certain services.

I can give you one performance measure. In 2003, when I was appointed executive director, francophones stayed in the Northwest Territories an average of two-and-a-half years. For 2011, when I left my position, the report states that they are now staying there for nearly five years.

I am convinced that this difference is attributable to our community. It is more active and has received greater support, in particular through the roadmap.

We can put a number on that difference. There are 1,200 francophones, even though, as we said earlier, more than that number speak French. Since the selection process in the Northwest Territories can cost $15,000, if we retain 100 or 200 francophones more per year, you can easily calculate the savings achieved. I have summarized that and calculated savings of $1 million a year. That is the result of a longer francophone retention period. We are retaining them for longer because we have a structure in which to develop a community life and a community partner life with our community and our government.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Bélanger now has the floor.

April 24th, 2012 / 9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen.

First, I would like to go back to the comment I made a few weeks ago. When four groups come and testify at a single meeting, that does them an injustice. We don't really have the time to explore the issues or to get a clearer understanding of them.

That is particularly true since the groups here this morning come from three separate language systems. Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland and Labrador each have a different language system and specific legislation. The Official Languages Act applies in Newfoundland and Labrador. That legislation does not apply in the territories in the same way. So we really will not have the time to explore the subject this morning.

This is also the first time I have met people from Nunavut. Thank you for being here. I understand you are facing some constraints. We could meet with fewer people or stretch the time out more. In any case, if we extend our study, that will satisfy the government's desire for our committee to spin its wheels.

In short, this does not do justice to people, particularly since our research topic is—

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Mr. Bélanger—

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

I only have seven minutes, Mr. Chair.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

This won't encroach on your speaking time.

I want to say that committee members asked me to invite a lot of groups to testify before us. We only have a few meetings in which to hear all the witnesses.

There are going to be times when we're going to have four groups in front of us. If the committee wants to extend the meetings beyond the finish in early May, to the end of May, then I can invite two groups per meeting. But the reality is, you've asked me to invite a certain number of groups, I have a certain number of meetings, we've got to fit them in, and the clerk and I are doing our best—