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

May 1st, 2012 / 10:25 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Thank you.

I find Mr. Trottier's concern interesting, but the question he asked you is whether you prefer to be educated in French or receive medical care in English, or receive care in French and be educated in English. You answered that the vitality of a francophone community is expressed as a whole and in many dimensions. One of the important dimensions is demographics. Given our demographic difficulties, we need foreigners to come and be part of this community. That is why immigration issues are extremely important. They are in Quebec, where there are not enough babies to ensure our survival, and they are surely important to you as well.

You talked about immigration and the integration of people in francophone communities as a national priority. I would like you to tell us more about this. How important is this issue in the Roadmap?

10:25 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

Destination Canada is the only way we have of recruiting and promoting francophone and Acadian communities. Many people think Destination Canada is limited to Paris and Brussels, but that is not the case. It also allows employers, provinces and communities to go to Tunisia, for example, to recruit workers such as welders. I myself participated in the last edition of Destination Canada. It is our only means of promotion and recruitment.

Earlier, I talked about the competition from Quebec. It is healthy competition, but they have more resources than we do. Six or seven people from Quebec live in Paris permanently to do recruitment. When I arrive in Paris, I'm not told that I am Fransaskoise. People talk to me about Quebec, poutine, woven sashes and Céline Dion. That is the truth. When I tell them that I am Fransaskoise, they don't know what a Fransaskois is. It is the same thing for Alberta and the Northwest Territories. I have to fight a predominant presence to recruit people who will come to live in our communities.

Destination Canada works. I told you I was at the last edition. Over 1,500 jobs were offered in francophone and Acadian communities and we were recruiting on site. They say there were 100 from 2006 to 2008. I admit I find the numbers startling. I don't know why we talked about them, but those numbers are not realistic.

In our province, there is a very strong Moroccan community and many people come from the Ivory Coast. The number of people who have arrived over the past five years is probably much higher than 100. I talked about a percentage of 13% coming from immigration. It is one of the only tools we have and it has just been taken away from us, even though the government says there is a target. I interviewed Minister Kenney and he told me that the target remains the same, except that we no longer have the means to reach that target. It is therefore very difficult for us to reach it and that is why we are asking questions and trying to meet the minister.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Without immigration, will francophone communities outside Quebec survive?

10:30 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

No.

Many schools, just in eastern Ontario, would be closed today if it weren't for immigration.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Thank you.

Your suggestions are interesting. You talked about learning both official languages at no cost. Quebec's students would be pleased to hear that. You also talked about subcontracting. You said that the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute would become the government's reference for training its public servants, now that it no longer wants to train them internally.

I think your suggestion has some merit, if the government is planning to privatize English or French courses. I hope it won't be done using just any linguistic institutes, where the language learned is what's commonly spoken, whereas our public service needs to learn a much more specialized French. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

10:30 a.m.

Director and Associate Dean, Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute, University of Ottawa

Richard Clément

We already play that role a bit, but we do it less for the public service for historic reasons. Our goal is not necessarily to corner the market, but to coordinate it. It is a function the institute has been fulfilling under other aspects for a few years now. We would just like to extend the institute's scope by using our skills towards that end.

You are absolutely correct. Public servants need a type of language skills that are adapted to their duties. The curriculum must allow them to increase their skills. I think institutes that are part of universities have the necessary knowledge to do that type of work.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Okay, thank you.

Mr. Gourde, you have the floor.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

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

My question is for the University of Ottawa's representative, given his studies.

I think awareness of linguistic duality in our country will improve from generation to generation. I come from a unilingual francophone family and I have a basic knowledge of English. However, I asked my children to take the time to learn English because it was important. I brought them movies in English, which allowed them to learn the language. They are now teenagers and young adults and they almost always watch movies in English just to perfect their knowledge of the language. One of my daughters is studying languages.

In the federal public service, we have the beginning of the second generation of public servants. They are no doubt better than those of the first generation were at their age. Of the first public servants, some were bilingual, but others had to learn a second language, whether it was French or English. The young people who start in the public service now are practically all bilingual. They are better than their predecessors were and I am convinced that their children will be even better. The new generation of Canadians does not perceive a confrontation between English and French because it is naturally bilingual. Some even learn a third language, as you said earlier, such as Spanish, Portuguese, German or Mandarin, given economic development.

There are economic advantages to speaking two, three or four languages. That could encourage more young Canadians to take the time to learn another language for their career or to travel, depending on their goals and what they want to do in life. It is a clear advantage to speak two languages in Canada and to stand out in the global economic community. Canada is a gateway to francophone communities, and English, which is the language of the global economy, is also spoken here.

Is the next generation of young Canadians aware of the advantage it has in having this linguistic duality?

10:35 a.m.

Director and Associate Dean, Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute, University of Ottawa

Richard Clément

You are asking me a question that would require research.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

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

If you could do it, that would be great.

10:35 a.m.

Director and Associate Dean, Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute, University of Ottawa

Richard Clément

I notice that more and more young people, certainly in university, are interested not only in English and French, but also in other languages. We have a globalization and modern languages program, for example, which is extremely popular.

I completely agree with you. I think the new generation sees beyond English and French. Now, how do we promote that? It might be necessary to create a national campaign that would present Canada as a world player that has tentacles everywhere.

There isn't any promotion of that type currently, but that could be a way of doing it. The reasons we could present would certainly be very pragmatic. Young people understand that pretty quickly, but we also need to present other reasons that will sustain their motivation. As I was saying, this motivation is more about culture or integration than pragmatism.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

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

Other organizations of course still defend minority francophone or anglophone communities, but almost all of your members are bilingual and their children are more naturally bilingual. Given this advantage they naturally have, how do they see the future of our country?

I understand that it is important, within a community, to defend minority francophones and vice versa, but they have an advantage. Are they aware of the advantage they have in their community and the fact that they can provide other advantages to their community and to each province?

10:35 a.m.

President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Marie-France Kenny

In our communities, there is the whole issue of passing on the language. There are many families with exogamous unions, where one parent is anglophone and the other is francophone. It is very difficult. There are some myths, but I have to tell you that in a number of our communities, there are awareness campaigns that promote education in French for rights-holders.

We say that we want our children to speak English, but they will learn it on the fly from their environment. They won't need to learn it because it is spoken everywhere, at the bank, on the street, at the corner store. So education in French is important. There are awareness campaigns done provincially or locally to promote francophone schools for rights-holders, but also for immersion schools for non-rights-holders, that is anglophones.

We have already told the committee that it would be important, as was said, to have a national strategy to promote linguistic duality and to tell rights-holders across the country, in Quebec and outside it, that they have a right to education in French or in English in Quebec, that they have a right to education in the other language, in immersion or through different programs. It is important both for our youth and for young anglophones who want to learn French.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

Ms. Michaud, you have the floor.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I have questions for the representatives of the University of Ottawa. I found your presentation very interesting. It fits with some presentations we've heard over the past weeks that mentioned, of course, the importance of research.

One of those witnesses was Mr. Éric Forgues, of the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities. He spoke among other things about the importance of creating a culture of research into official languages within the different levels of government.

Could you share with us your point of view on the ways the roadmap could contribute to creating that culture in a future edition?