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Evidence of meeting #33 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 portal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Donna Achimov  Chief Executive Officer, Translation Bureau, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Marc Olivier  Manager, Translation Bureau, Linguistic Services Division, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Jeff Moore  Vice-President, Policy, Partnerships and Performance Management, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
Lisa Marie Perkins  President, National Office, Canadian Parents for French
Justin Morrow  Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French
Robert Rothon  Executive Director, National Office, Canadian Parents for French
Susan Anzolin  Director General, Innovation and Economic Development, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

You founded the organization. Who did the appointing of the five people who are on there now?

10:40 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

You did. Okay.

My next question is for everyone here.

If we were to continue with the road map—we're looking at the next phase, and a lot of good work has been done so far—where would your focus be? What would you like to see happen with the renewal of the road map?

Perhaps we can start with you, Ms. Achimov.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you, Mr. Menegakis.

Go ahead.

10:40 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Translation Bureau, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Donna Achimov

We've built our plan to create momentum. The momentum is launched. I would like to see the discussions take place with the communities and the users who receive the funding to see where they would like to take it. Certainly for the portal, we'd obviously like to continue with the momentum we've started there.

Thank you.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Moore.

10:40 a.m.

Vice-President, Policy, Partnerships and Performance Management, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Jeff Moore

I have a similar answer in that I think it would be important to consult with the communities and all the other organizations that are involved to see where they would want to go with respect to the challenges they have in economic development and how we could best serve them through the road map.

Even beyond the road map, there's also making sure that our general programs meet their needs as well. We think that's very important to our agency.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Madam Perkins.

10:40 a.m.

President, National Office, Canadian Parents for French

Lisa Marie Perkins

We have highlighted some very concrete examples in our brief. The one that I would highlight for you right now would be the development of proficiency benchmarking and a national standard for our youth in Canada, so that we understand what bilingual means and our students are able to be proud and confident of their language proficiency in their second official language.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Bélanger, you have two minutes.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

You are so generous, Mr. Chair.

Not a lot can be done in two minutes. So I am going to ask Mr. Morrow and Ms. Perkins a theoretical question about ideal situations.

Do you think there would be an advantage for Canada if all graduates of, let's say, universities, or perhaps all post-secondary educational institutions, speak Canada's two official languages as a prerequisite for graduation?

10:40 a.m.

President, National Office, Canadian Parents for French

Lisa Marie Perkins

First we would like to see, at a minimum, that the French-language proficiency of our high school graduates be recognized at the university level, which it currently is not, unlike some other types of programs, and that it be celebrated so that our universities are actually using those language skills.

Again, as I earlier alluded to, we see the economic benefit to the country of having our youth become bilingual in terms of our being positioned as a nation as a welcoming, inclusive community for all, and also in terms of our young people being able to participate in the world. The only other international language is French. If you have students who want to go and work at the OECD or at the International Olympic Committee, it is of true economic benefit to them individually that they learn both languages.

The natural correlation is that the more people who have the ability to participate fully in Canada's two official languages, there's a community spinoff as well.

10:45 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

Personally speaking, I'm not really for forcing people to do something, especially if they don't really have any use for it. If somebody were to study something where they had no use for French, I don't think we should oblige them to have to graduate with something in French.

That being said, I think there are some jobs within our society where being bilingual should be a minimum and a prerequisite.

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

As a follow-up to that, would you favour the availability, online, of courses that Canadians can study autodidactically, courses that give the self-taught ability to pick up Canada's other official language? Would you favour that?

10:45 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

That they pick it up on their own?

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Yes, but free; if you could access the Internet, through a school, through a library, through your home, and have access to a course load, a cursus, that would allow you to pick up Canada's second official language—or both, in the case of immigrants, because I value the point that you brought up, very much—would you support that?

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Can you give a one-word answer, Mr. Morrow?

10:45 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

I think we'd have to look at the cost benefits of it first.

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Thank you to all our witnesses.

We have no further time, so without further ado, this meeting is adjourned.