Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, commissioner. I would also like to welcome your entire team.
Since you raised the issue of Canadian Heritage, I'm going to go back to it. In fact, I'm going to admit to you that, when the three representatives of that department appeared before us, there was a very strong reaction, which I thought was entirely warranted. However, I am disappointed that I forgot to ask them a question—in fact, we all forgot to do it—to ask them who at the department made that decision. However, perhaps Mr. Gourde could enlighten us on that point. If the minister made the decision, that's an entirely different matter. I hope you'll be able to answer that question in the course of your investigation. I believe it would have been very important to ask it. If those people appear before us, I will definitely put it to them.
You don't want to offer any comments, Commissioner, but you made one this morning, as may be seen from your brief:
What have been the results of the roadmap? It is not my place to provide you with a full accounting today. That will be up to Canadian Heritage and other participating departments. Like you, I'll be reading their reports closely once they're available.
I too hope to read those reports, particularly that of Canadian Heritage. However, when they appeared before us, the people from that department told us that they were not preparing one and that they were relying on us. You will be able to determine from the way the questions are asked that the people from that department displayed a flagrant lack of professionalism and transparency. I am anxious to read your report.
This morning, I especially want to focus on one question that is fundamentally important not only for the roadmap, but also for the country: education. When Mr. Corbeil, from Statistics Canada, came to meet with us, he provided us with some disturbing statistics from the last census. A number of parts concerned education. You mentioned early childhood, which has also been cut by the new government. Whatever the case may be, two major components were part of the action plan and appear in the roadmap. The first is first-language education in official language minority communities. I believe that $280 million was allocated to that. There is also second-language learning, thus the learning of French as a second language. Unless I'm mistaken, there was also a significant amount of funding for that.
Mr. Corbeil told us that, within a certain age group, the number of anglophones taking courses in immersion programs had fallen from 16% to 13% in the past five years, a 30% drop. And yet the target of the roadmap and the action plan was to double the number of young people learning the other language. In other words, we are not moving forward, we are falling behind. This situation very much concerns me.
In addition, you will remember that, when you last appeared, I believe, I asked about your ability to verify whether the funding transferred to the provinces was being properly used. You gave the following answer, which I will read so that my colleagues can hear it:
Mr. Chairman, I raised the matter of following the money sent to the provinces by Ottawa with the clerk. It was explained to me then that the nature of current federalism and the principle of provincial accountability mean the provinces have full responsibility for the money they receive, including from the federal government. Money is sent by Ottawa with an explanatory letter stating that the money must be used for minority language education or second language education. However, it is very difficult for me to know exactly how that money is spent, since I do not have the authority to investigate what is being done by a provincial ministry or a province. A provincial minister of education personally admitted to me that when a cheque would arrive from Ottawa, he tended to spend it for whatever he felt was a priority. So, I can't give you a clear answer to that question. What I can say, though, is that the way the money is spent is often a mystery.
Do you remember that?