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 community.

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

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

We will now continue with the 39th meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

We will continue with the 39th meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, beginning with Mr. Williamson.

May 1st, 2012 / 9:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Thank you.

I thought it was back to the opposition.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My question is actually a clarification or perhaps to have more insight from the Quebec Community Groups Network.

Did I understand, Mr. Burke, that the eventual goal of your group is to not rely on the federal government for support or resources but to also begin to seek funding from the private sector? Did I understand that correctly? I'm curious. Can you elaborate a bit and tell me what your plans might be for that?

9:55 a.m.

Interim President, Quebec Community Groups Network

Noel Burke

The point might be more about relying exclusively on the federal government...seeking out support and resources from other ventures.

Speaking for myself, and this is not something we've discussed at the board, although people are aware of it, some of the preparatory work that has been done around the notion of social economy is very interesting to us—I know it is interesting to other groups and parties as well—and that's the ability for private concerns to be advantaged by engaging in the social economy formula, whereby they invest and get repaid over time. We are interested in exploring that, and also, to put it in a delicate way, to look at improving our relations with the provincial government as well.

It's less about not having any reliance.... I'd rather put it as not having any partnership with the federal government but diversifying our resources and partnership with other agencies, whether they be provincial government or private interest.

But the social economy formula is a very interesting concept.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Sure. That's wise.

I would also like to ask the representative of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada what she thinks about this plan. Do you believe this plan would be useful to you?

10 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

To say that the government will no longer have to be accountable one day is not the issue.

10 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

To go back to Mr. Burke's answer, it would be a partnership, with some federal government funding.

10 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

We are already working on diversifying our funds. Obviously, federal funds constitute, for us, leverage at the provincial and local levels, and even with the private sector. The difficulty stems from the fact that we are far from achieving any real equality. The day that we do, we will be able to tell everyone that we are closing shop and going home. I am not convinced that this will happen in my lifetime. We have had official languages legislation for 42 years and yet people are still not complying with it. I am not sure that I will live long enough to see that, but I hope it happens faster than I think it will. With regard to the official languages, we see some momentum with the Action Plan and the Roadmap, etc., however, investments in this area still need to be made.

10 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Suzanne Bossé

The social economy model we are talking about here requires various winning conditions in order to truly be successful. Each of the partners, be it in the private sector or at the municipal or community level, needs to have the capacity to enter into the partnership.

Currently, at the community level, the Roadmap seeks to strengthen the associative network. There was very minor additional support and that was the partnership models. In terms of immigration, we have 13 networks that have managed to bring together 250 partners. However, in order to bring them together and get them to consult and coordinate their activities, we will need more resources, and this reinforcement is still essential.

10 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Do I have any time left?

10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

You do not have any time left.

Ms. Michaud, you have the floor.

10 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Good day and welcome to all the witnesses. Thank you for appearing before the committee.

Before I get to my questions, I want to make two brief comments. First, in response to Mr. Trottier, if the Roadmap was so important to this government and if the committee's work was essential to developing a long-term plan for our communities, we should have been told well before the fact that the committee's work would be used to assess the Roadmap. Since some groups were not aware of the direction the committee's work would take, they have not been able to present all the information they would have liked to present and they probably did not make their testimony as effective and as relevant as it could have been for our purposes. I object to that.

Second, I was shocked and disappointed to learn that some measures in the Roadmap are being abolished, contrary to what the government proudly announced. I find that objectionable too. I am thinking of Destination Canada and the fact that travel is no longer paid. Just a few short meetings ago, some northern communities came to talk to us about their difficulties in implementing various measures, programs and initiatives due to that very thing: the cost of travel. These groups are subject to more significant constraints. I am certain that other groups also experience similar constraints.

Destination Canada is a program that provides many benefits to communities regarding the renewal of their activities, among other things. I find the cuts to this program extremely unfortunate too. Like with everything else, we are getting information in dribs and drabs. At the very least, I hope that we will soon be told the extent of the damages so that we can react accordingly and help the development of all the communities, both the anglophone communities in Quebec and the francophone communities outside Quebec.

Following my little editorial remarks, I now want to get to your presentation, Ms. Kenny. You told us about the importance of properly defining the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved in implementing a new government strategy. That is, in fact, important, but do you think it is enough to ensure sufficient involvement by all stakeholders at the various levels?

10 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

I will let my colleague respond.

10 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Suzanne Bossé

Thank you for your question.

It is quite clear. In the implementation of the current Roadmap, there is horizontal work that is not being done. I will again use immigration because it is an excellent example of this. There is a steering committee involving federal departments, provincial governments and the communities. It is quite clear that, within the federal departments sitting on this committee, that there is a lack of cooperation and coordination regarding the work. I am talking about the departments responsible for health, immigration, human resources development and so on.

The current challenge concerns the horizontal work and the way it should be happening, meaning governmental and interdepartmental cooperation and the importance of aligning the provincial governments with the federal departments. There is a strategic plan to promote francophone immigration and this work is not being done. We want the next Roadmap to clearly set out the management and accountability framework.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Thank you.

To refresh my memory, the FCFA was among the groups consulted during the mid-term assessment of the Roadmap. Is that correct?

10:05 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

Yes, there were online consultations and sectoral round tables, essentially, in which our federation was invited to participate.