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

9:35 a.m.

Interim President, Quebec Community Groups Network

Noel Burke

I'd like to make a brief response, if I may.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

You may, just briefly.

9:35 a.m.

Interim President, Quebec Community Groups Network

Noel Burke

I neglected to mention earlier, as one of the members mentioned their inability to attend, that your chair, Mr. Chong, attended our consultations in March and was very welcome.

The community is attended to by elected officials of governments of any stripe and level as the first and most important step to help clarify misperceptions about the community. The English-speaking community in Quebec is a vibrant and vital community. Montreal is not a place of privilege in which the English-speaking community has access to everything.

You are more than welcome at any time.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Okay. Thank you.

Mr. Bélanger.

May 1st, 2012 / 9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

First of all, I would like to tell you that this is my last session at the Standing Committee on Official Languages. Someone will soon be taking my place.

You know, I have now spent 17 years in Parliament. I have always been associated one way or another with the Standing Committee on Official Languages. One thing I always liked about this committee, was that when we got here, we set aside our partisan hats and worked together quite closely in order to help our communities. Over the last year, the atmosphere has completely changed. I now feel forced to keep my partisan hat on when arriving at the committee. This is most unpleasant.

Over the last year, we have been conducting this useless study of the Roadmap. In fact, we are doing Heritage Canada's job. They did not even have the courage to tell us that when we were starting. They waited until February when we had already done two-thirds of the work.

All this is to say that I had hoped to leave on a positive note and show you a short video. Unfortunately, that will not happen, but I shall certainly share it with my colleagues. I wanted you to see this video because it shows positive things that were accomplished under the Action Plan and the Roadmap. That video was filmed in March by about 40 interns at the Montfort Hospital. They came from across the country and were studying health at Ottawa University and the Cité collégiale. We do hope they will go home and help their communities. This is the product, the fruit if you will, of a few programs managed by the Department of Health and the Consortium national de formation en santé under the Roadmap. I am happy to share it with those who wish to see it.

On that note, Mr. Clément, I noted your recommendations. Thank you.

Mr. Burke, I will visit. I won't wait for the committee to go, because it's not likely to travel, with this attitude, but I certainly have and will continue to visit communities in the English communities in Quebec,

and francophone communities.

I would like to come back from time to time to replace the person who is taking my chair.

I would like to continue by expressing another of my major concerns, if you will permit. For that matter, Mr. Godin partly raised it.

By the way, Mr. Godin, according to my information, 19 offices will close across the country and the number of regions will drop from 5 to 3. The Quebec office will merge with the Maritime provinces' offices. The Ontario office will stay open, whereas the Prairies provinces and British Columbia's offices will merge. I heard that the Vancouver office may be moved to Calgary. We wonder why, but time will tell.

On the issue of immigration, I know that we have gone from 1,500 people to about 1,600 or 1,700 people per year in our communities.

Out of 200,000 immigrants or more per year, do you believe this number is sufficient, Ms. Kenny?

9:40 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

No I do not believe so. I would like to comment on that issue. I believe you obtained your numbers from the mid-term status report on the Roadmap. We have analyzed these numbers and we certainly challenge them.

First of all, let me state that these numbers are based on the mother tongue. According to these numbers, there was an increase of 100 people over two years in our communities. However, in 2006, 13% of our communities were made up of immigrants and that proportion has not ceased growing since then. Given all of the initiatives to promote recruitment, we definitely challenge those numbers.

Perhaps we should be measuring the first official language spoken. For example, if a person arriving in our community is of Arab origin, that person's mother tongue would be Arabic. However, that person's first official language is often French and that is what should be measured. We will be able to do so as of 2011.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

In the previous Parliament, the committee did some very good work examining the whole issue of immigration. If we do nothing, the country will become increasingly polarized, that is to say fewer francophone immigrants outside of Quebec and most francophone immigrants moving to Quebec. Over the next 20 years, that will lead to greater polarization and we all know what that can mean.

Unless I'm mistaken, the target had been set at 4.4% by 2021. But that is what we presently have. In the meantime, we are at barely 1.8%. Only Manitoba is aiming for 7% in order to reestablish a certain balance.

Do you have any comments about that?

9:40 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

There is no national target. When the committee did its study, we actually recommended there be a national target, that is to say a national strategy.

The other thing I must tell you is that we learned that the Destination Canada initiative that allowed us to recruit and promote francophone communities has been abolished. That was a Roadmap initiative. That initiative has been reduced by $600,000. So, travel will no longer be paid for people from provinces and communities in order to—

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Excuse me. Are you telling me that funding for Destination Canada, that communities came here to praise, is being cut?

9:40 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

At Destination Canada, funding for people travelling from communities and provinces has been cut. You understand that provinces received money to fund travel for people from communities.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

I still have 1 minute and 14 seconds.

I thought Minister Moore said in the House that no funding would be cut from the Roadmap and you congratulated him about that.

9:40 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

And now you're telling me there are some.

9:40 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

That is what we learned. We are trying to meet with Minister Kenney to clarify the situation. We have a meeting set up with Minister Moore this week. So, we are certainly trying to clear this up.

However, I can tell you that we are very concerned. On the one hand, we were told that investments in the Roadmap would not be reduced, but on the other hand, we have now learned that investments in the Roadmap are effectively being cut.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Do not be surprised. That department, as well as the cabinet, has a tendency to mislead the population. Just look at what happened with the F-35s.