Evidence of meeting #39 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 language.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Marie-France Kenny  President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada
  • Noel Burke  Interim President, Quebec Community Groups Network
  • Sylvia Martin-Laforge  Director General, Quebec Community Groups Network
  • Richard Clément  Director and Associate Dean, Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute, University of Ottawa
  • Suzanne Bossé  Director General, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada
  • Hilaire Lemoine  Executive in Residence, Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute, University of Ottawa

9:25 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

In fact, it is our understanding that the Halifax office will also close and that everything will be centralized in Montreal. That would mean services for Atlantic Canada would be offered out of Montreal. This is of great concern to us. An Atlantic group is studying the repercussions of that decision. We will be able to provide you with further information.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

It is all very well to have a roadmap, but on the ground, we seem to be going in the opposite direction.

9:25 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

Precisely, and I want to tell you that we are very concerned by the fact that when Quebec does promotion and recruits francophones, in so doing, you will agree, it is competing with us. In our case, when I arrive in Paris to promote our province and I talk about Saskatchewan, not many people raise their hand and say they know about Saskatchewan, and there are even fewer who know how to pronounce our province's name. As for Quebec, they have seven permanent staff members in the Paris office. Obviously they are strong competitors and we do not feel well represented.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Gourde, please go ahead.

May 1st, 2012 / 9:25 a.m.

Conservative

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to thank the witnesses for being here this morning.

I will continue in the same vein, thanks to Mr. Godin who asked some of my questions already.

Amongst the various initiatives that were implemented under the Roadmap and that you would like to see maintained, it seems to me there are two types of initiatives. There are initiatives that respond to temporary needs and may last two, three or four years, whereas others are more permanent in nature, such as educational initiatives. In fact, we know this is important because of students who change over the years. Certain initiatives must therefore continue.

What type of initiatives would be a priority for you? Would both types be a priority? Do you have concrete examples of new initiatives that should be longer-term and initiatives that deal with other specific problems? In the latter case, once those problems have been resolved, we could then move on to other initiatives. What is your view of all of this?

9:30 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

Actually, I said so in my presentation. We would not like to see current initiatives suddenly stop on March 31, 2013. There are certain initiatives, and consultation is important for them, which have a certain momentum and that we must pursue.

However, there are other priorities too. You know, things change over five years, and this is why it is important for all sectors. As you stated, a great deal has been invested in early childhood. If all this suddenly ended in 2013, all will have been for naught. We will not have the capacity to continue to fund these initiatives. Communities can certainly not do it on their own. We will have to drop certain activities and launch others. This is why these consultations are so important.

9:30 a.m.

Interim President, Quebec Community Groups Network

Noel Burke

I'll answer the question generally and then ask Sylvia to add some specific examples.

I think what we've achieved in the establishment of these six priorities allows us to provide a framework for sustainable projects over time that we hope would actually become self-sustainable, that are not dependent on government forever.

An example like access to services in English is an issue for rural Quebeckers as much as it is for residents of the Montreal area. That access is in different ways, so by providing those priorities and inviting community organizations and members who promote and propose projects, if they're in the context of these six priorities, we feel that has sustainability over time.

We see local initiatives and local organizations that are member organizations proposing projects that could be funded privately, publicly, provincially, or federally, but they may have short-term advantages. We're suggesting, and the community has agreed with us at our conference, that they must be in the context of these six, so that art and entertainment or art and culture projects are not just for the sake of the promotion of art, but also must, in some way, promote access to services, community development, economic prosperity, etc.

Perhaps Sylvia might have a specific example or two of the experience over the last road map.

9:30 a.m.

Director General, Quebec Community Groups Network

Sylvia Martin-Laforge

I think if I just leave you with the example of health and social services, the work that has been done in the area of health is paramount to everyone in our community. Will it ever end? Will there ever be a need to disengage from that? Some of the consultations with the province would tell us that while they are supportive of access to English for our community, there needs to be leverage, so leverage is always important to the English-speaking community.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

I believe Ms. Bossé would like to add something.

9:30 a.m.

Suzanne Bossé Director General, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to add that Mr. Gourde's question must also refer to true equality. In certain areas, I don't think we can say that francophone and Acadian communities have achieved equality. We're not there yet. More specifically, Mr. Godin mentioned immigration. The fact is, in the last budget, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration eliminated the financial support that allowed communities to go out and promote and recruit, which is certainly a major setback for us. In some areas, we have achieved various levels of development. At this time, we have certainly not reached the level of equality that would meet the government's priorities. We will certainly need continued support to move to the next level and truly reinforce all the successes of the last 10 or 20 years that allowed us to achieve the current Roadmap.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

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

Would you like the broader consultation by the department to take place in your province and within your organizations, or in Ottawa? What is your vision of this consultation?

9:35 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

For us what counts the most is that there is a consultation. Whether it take place on Skype, through videoconferencing, in person in Ottawa, or through a tour of communities, does not matter to us. We are prepared to sit down with Heritage Canada and request that the consultation be done in an effective and efficient manner. We agree that there is no need to spend millions of dollars on this consultation. We would rather spend millions of dollars for the next Roadmap rather than on a consultation. There are several ways to consult and we are prepared to sit down with the department and discuss the least costly and the most effective ways of going about it.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

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

Thank you.

9:35 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Suzanne Bossé

There are, among others, the 43 organizations of the Leaders Forum that Heritage Canada, who is responsible for coordinating the Roadmap, could meet with over one or two days. That is an inexpensive possibility. More and more departments are having online consultations, which allow people within communities to make presentations and send briefs.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Okay. Merci.

Mr. Burke?