Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My name is Jean-Pierre Corbeil. I am responsible for the Language Statistics Section, and I am here with my colleague, François Nault, who is director of the Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.
I want to thank the members of the committee for inviting Statistics Canada to appear and offer input into their discussions on evaluating the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality and, possibly, on the direction of a future Government of Canada horizontal initiative on official languages. Although Statistics Canada is not directly targeted by the roadmap, the agency plays a special role because of its liaison with a number of federal departments to whom the roadmap is directed, people in the research community, and, above all, many representatives of official language minority communities.
In my speech, I will try to briefly present a few of the key findings that emerge from the various studies conducted by Statistics Canada's Language Statistics Section in support of the roadmap and the official language minority communities in Canada.
For the past 30 years, or since 1981, the number of people outside Quebec with French as their first official language spoken has increased from one census to the next. Between 1996 and 2006, this francophone population grew by approximately 26,500. However, its demographic weight within the Canadian population outside Quebec declined from 4.5% to 4.2%. In this regard, the demographic reality is unrelenting. In any given year, Canada receives between 240,000 and 265,000 new immigrants, 80% of whom settle outside Quebec and among all these immigrants settling outside Quebec, slightly less than 2% have French as their first official language spoken.
With regard to education, a remarkable progress among the youngest generations of francophones has been observed, as they are generally more likely to hold a university degree and to have an income equal to or greater than that of their English-speaking counterparts. The demographic forces at work are such that since the Dunton-Laurendeau Commission, the socio-economic situation of French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec has greatly improved. However, this improvement has not necessarily benefited the vitality of the French language, as evidenced by the anglicization of many francophones. In fact, we know that almost 4 in 10 francophones outside Quebec live in municipalities where they represent less than 10% of the population. This situation directly affects the opportunities for francophones to use French outside the home and receive services in French.
Data from the Survey on the Vitality of Official-Language Minorities, conducted by Statistics Canada in 2006 in partnership with 10 federal departments and agencies, show that 89% of francophones living outside Quebec consider it important that linguistic rights be respected in their province and 84% state that it's important to them that government services be provided in French.
International immigration has a major impact on the current and evolving situation of francophone minority communities. With the aging of the francophone population, along with its interprovincial migratory exchanges that favour Quebec, francophone minority communities rely heavily on international immigration as a factor to ensure their future. This reliance is not without its pitfalls. Many challenges face immigrants who settle in francophone minority communities, especially as regards economic and social integration. Our consultations with representatives of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada shed light on the importance of better understanding those challenges, as well as the needs, obstacles and dynamics that favour or impede the integration of immigrants.
In this respect, community stakeholders have expressed great interest in having Statistics Canada conduct a survey of the roughly 150,000 French-speaking immigrants outside Quebec so that they can be better equipped to face the challenges of the coming decades.
For their part, anglophone communities in Quebec face different challenges. The difference is notably due to the fact that, unlike the situation observed among francophones living outside Quebec, the use of English by anglophones in Quebec is much less dependent on the size and share of their population in the municipalities where they live. Thus, almost 85% of them reported using English alone or together with French in the public sphere.
Among francophones living outside Quebec, 42% reported using French outside the home. This proportion is less than 30% in the provinces east of New Brunswick and less than 10% in those west of Manitoba.
Statistics Canada data have shown that in Quebec immigrants account for nearly one-third of the English-speaking population, compared with 7% of the French-speaking population. Despite the fact that Quebec anglophones generally have a high education level, some of them, especially those who have recently immigrated, have trouble fully integrating into the labour market.
While a larger proportion of anglophones than francophones in Quebec have an annual income exceeding $100,000, paradoxically a larger proportion of them also live below the low-income threshold. Additionally, our analyses have shown that Quebec anglophones, among others, are substantially under-represented in the provincial civil service. Furthermore, because of their high mobility, young people in these minority communities are also more likely to move to other provinces or outside Canada, a situation that poses considerable challenges for those concerned with the vitality of their communities.
The road map on linguistic duality mainly emphasizes official language minorities. However, 2011 census results released on February 8 highlight the growing importance of international immigration as a driver of Canada's population growth. Yet Quebec's demographic share within the Canadian federation has declined by approximately one percentage point every ten years since 1961. This decline is due to the fact that Quebec has received fewer immigrants over the years than its demographic weight would warrant within the Canadian federation and also due to the sizeable population growth in the provinces west of Ontario.
The concept of Canada's linguistic duality should therefore take into consideration the fact that of the roughly 9.6 million Canadians who speak French, 73% live in Quebec. This is also the case for 86% of Canadians for whom French is the first official language spoken.
Another aspect of linguistic duality is the learning of French as a second language. The data collected by Statistics Canada reveal major challenges on the horizon in this regard. For example, we know that between 1996 and 2006, the proportion of young anglophones aged 15 to 19 able to conduct a conversation in French fell three percentage points, from 16.3% to 13%. Furthermore, this ability to speak French declines in the years after leaving the school environment.
This being said, statistics on school attendance show both a setback and an improvement: the setback regards decreased numbers of enrolments in regular French as a second language programs, down by 225,000 over the last decade. In terms of improvement, the number of youths attending a French immersion program has increased by 51,000 during the same period. Despite this progress, the total proportion of students outside Quebec who are being exposed at school to learning French as a second language has fallen from 53% to 44% in the past 20 years. Moreover, it is important to note that since education is a provincial jurisdiction, the teaching of French as a second language is not compulsory in the provinces west of Ontario. These are, of course, only a few of the findings emerging from our analyses.
I would like to stress that our partners—especially those in community organizations—have often told us how important it is for them to have access to the wealth of information produced by Statistics Canada. Despite important advances, there are many challenges. It should be recognized that very different realities exist depending on whether one lives in northern New Brunswick, Toronto, Saskatchewan, Yukon or the Gaspé region of Quebec. These differences are clearly shown in the various studies conducted by Statistics Canada since the start of the period covered by the current roadmap. The studies include 11 highly-detailed provincial and territorial portraits of official language minorities in Canada. Each portrait provides considerable information on topics that include the roadmap's five priority sectors as well as education and the communities' demographic vitality.
Since the start of the roadmap, Statistics Canada has found innovative ways to meet the needs of Canadians for language statistics. Many of our partners told us of their needs for information on such varied topics as access to health care in their language of choice, immigration into a minority environment, French immersion programs, literacy and adult skills or economic development, to name a few.
Statistics Canada responded to many of these needs by publishing a major monograph entitled Languages in Canada: 2006 Census, an analytical report on the French-speaking immigrant population outside Quebec, a report on health care professionals and official language minorities in Canada, as well as a conceptual study on the economic development of official language minority communities.
In closing, Statistics Canada, in its efforts to implement section 41 of the Official Languages Act, has taken a number of positive measures that provide minority language community members with statistical and analytical information. Along these lines, Statistics Canada enables these communities to benefit from its expertise so that they can have the tools they need to better develop their programs and services. This need is reflected in the many requests for data and consultation that Statistics Canada receives from these communities. Based on the future needs and interests of its community and government partners, Statistics Canada intends to continue supporting their actions in promoting the development of official language communities and Canada's linguistic duality.