Evidence of meeting #40 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 official.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Hubert Lussier  Assistant Deputy Minister, Citizenship and Heritage Branch, Department of Canadian Heritage
  • Daniel Jean  Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

I realize this is your first meeting on this issue. Our evaluations are ongoing and they will include those numbers.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Then, when will we receive them?

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Soon.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Your colleague, Mr. Valcourt, recently met with people from the Centre scolaire et communautaire des Grands-Vents, and that's a good thing. However, his comments caused them great concern, because he told them, and I quote, "an envelope that unfortunately will probably be smaller". Is that correct?

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

We have not yet made a decision on that. That is why we are consulting.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Valcourt said it would probably be lower.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

We have not made a decision yet. That is why we are consulting.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Minister, communities do not have much leeway. They are unable to achieve economies of scale specifically because they are minorities. So we really must try to protect them. Requests for funding would be higher rather than lower, and that is understandable. Let me remind you of the difficulties they face. For you to announce to them ahead of time that the funding will probably be lower, is a staggering blow for them.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Things are not that simple. One does not necessarily obtain better results by spending more money.

May 3rd, 2012 / 8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

I agree with you. That is not what I am saying. If you already announced, even before you completed your evaluations, that the budget envelope will be smaller, that's not the best way to engage communities.

You've said that there haven't been any cutbacks so far. However, on May 1, Ms. Kenny told us that this initiative, Destination Canada, and I quote, “which allows us to recruit people and promote francophone communities“, was cut. It was an initiative contained in the Roadmap, and $600,000 was cut from this initiative.”

Under this program, for example, people would go to Paris to take part in a fair with the purpose of potentially attracting French-speaking immigrants to Saskatchewan and to Manitoba, and not only to Quebec. So this program is very important for communities.

Was $600,000 really cut from a program which was not very expensive to begin with, and which was essential to recruit new immigrants to Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, as well as elsewhere in Canada outside Quebec?

9 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

As far as I understand, it was eliminated. It did not affect services or commitments to new Canadians, but it was funding for those fora.

9 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

You are confirming that it was eliminated.

9 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Yes, it was $600,000 for that type of event. It did not affect services for new Canadians, nor commitments made to them. In our view, our commitments are essential. As you know, Mr. Dion, as far as obstacles for new Canadians are concerned, we often talk about this issue in Canada.

As you know, when we first came into government, we talked a lot about—your government talked a lot about it, and our government also talked a lot about it, but invested—the idea that new Canadians can't have their credentials fully recognized, that new Canadians have barriers to entrance into the workforce, and that new Canadians are not able to fully realize their potential in Canadian society. There are barriers to that.

The greatest barrier for new Canadians to having full integration and full participation in Canadian society—by far the biggest barrier—is language. That's why we've invested more money than ever before in immigration services in both official languages

so that new Canadians are able to fully integrate into Canadian society. That's why we did it.

In fact, we cut $600,000 out of a total of $1.1 billion. This cut affects fairs and not services. The amount of money we have reinvested to protect the rights of new Canadians is unprecedented.

9 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

I appreciate the fact that something else is being done. However, it is unfortunate that the francophone community of Saint-Boniface in Manitoba, for instance, will lose the opportunity to become more well-known at that fair, which ultimately did not cost the government much money, but which nevertheless played an important role for that community. Especially since I've been told that the program yielded good results. The fair attracted immigrants who otherwise would not have come and who otherwise would have chosen to settle in Quebec. These immigrants discovered that they could work in a francophone community outside Quebec because it is what they learned at one of those fairs. In the interest of saving $600,000, people are being deprived of that tool. I agree that we have to fight the deficit, but it could have been done otherwise.

Have you conducted any evaluations? You should ask your colleague at Immigration whether there have been evaluations showing that the program was really not warranted.

9 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

I would like to point out two things in that regard. First, if you have any questions, you know that each minister is responsible for their portfolio. So if you want the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to appear before the committee to speak to these internal evaluations, and why they were undertaken, I am sure that Mr. Kenney would be available to do so.

Second, if what you are saying about what is happening on the ground is indeed true, then I am sure that...