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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

10:15 a.m.

Executive Director, National Office, Canadian Parents for French

Robert Rothon

It must also be said that some provincial policies prevent a child who is taking courses or training in English as a second language from signing up for a program of French as a second language. So the two priorities are being set up in competition, which is a real shame, in our opinion. Studies actually show that a young allophone can take courses in both French and English at the same time and succeed very well. So there is some awareness to be provided to, and some lobbying to be done with, ministries of education.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Let me turn quickly to Mr. Morrow.

You told us that the roadmap had only invested in two projects with Canadian Youth for French in the past. Is that correct? Could you briefly explain what those investments were?

10:15 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

The first one was for $45,000, which we used to hold two youth conferences with a goal of getting a better understanding of their reality.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Did you say $45,000 or $145,000?

10:15 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

It was $45,000.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Okay.

10:15 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

It's to better understand our audience. They taught us a lot, those two conferences. The second one was for $60,000, in which we rolled out a presentation tour. We went to 13 schools in southwestern Ontario and spoke to more than 5,000 students, of which 53 called upon our services and asked to be put in touch with the post-secondary French language learning experiences that were best suited for them.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Okay. Merci.

Mr. Williamson.

March 27th, 2012 / 10:15 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

My riding of New Brunswick Southwest is probably the one with the fewest francophones in all of New Brunswick. One thing surprised me when I started my job as their member of Parliament a year ago. There were applications for positions and applications for money that the government gives to various groups, and Canadian Parents for French was at the top of the list. That showed me right away that there really is a demand. I imagine it will be the same this year when summer applications are signed.

Mr. Morrow, you are an example for young people and for all Canadians. I would really like you to give us some ideas for a platform on which a bilingual space would be possible. I feel that one of the marvellous things about being able to speak both languages is that you can live in French or in English. Maybe it is already up and running and maybe your ideas are further along than mine, or different from mine. You talked about a medium, about a platform where the two languages can come together.

10:15 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

So the bilingual space that I spoke of would be created. That is still in development within our organization. We have a lot of great ideas, but they're still in the idea stage right now. More research needs to be done to determine what that is and what kind of space that is. I don't really feel comfortable giving you all the ideas right now until I speak with the board and our demographic—

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Let me give you some things to think about, because one thing is that I tend to think that news and newsgathering in today's digital era are very personal. The news stations you watch could be entirely different from the ones I watch. I wonder if your focus on this is going to be one where it's going to be commercially driven, so you would be looking for advertisements to support it. What I would fear—and I'll ask you to respond to this—is the idea of government deciding what should be on this platform and what news content would be there.

With tablets today, you can almost do what you're talking about. Every morning, I go to a site called National Newswatch. It's all in English—well, it's 99% English, but you occasionally have something from Le Devoir or La Presse—but it gives me a great cross-section of news from across the country. In a way, you can do it already with tablets. You can go from Le Devoir, La Presse, and CBC/Radio-Canada to the Saint John Telegraph-Journal.

Can you even talk about or comment on some of the broad thinking? Or do you think I'm off base in suggesting that there are areas where government can't provide content because society is just too diverse, even if you're speaking both languages?

10:20 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

I think you're right. I think we are pretty diverse and it would be difficult to implement something through the government, through a government process, but I do think it's possible. I think we can be creative enough to find a way to make that happen.

With respect to already having the different tools and tablets in place, we can switch in that. I don't think it's where we're going. I don't think it's at a level that satisfies the needs of the new bilingual generation. We still have to switch from one program to another—it's still 99%, so....

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

I agree with you. I don't particularly like it when I watch the news and get someone speaking French or English and it's dubbed, it's translated. I find it distracting.

But I also would say I also don't watch just one station in English. I mean, there's nothing inherently wrong with.... That's one of the great things about today's television universe—the choice that's there. I can see kind of collecting a station, a specialty station where you might have it, but I don't think it's offside to suggest that people can't switch stations to get the television they want. I mean, heaven forbid if the CBC had the power to shut down all the other networks and force us to watch their one station.

10:20 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Anyway....

I appreciate your comments. Thank you.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you very much, Mr. Williamson.

Mr. Harris.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, everyone.

I share the same lament, perhaps, as Monsieur Bélanger, that the group is not split up a little bit more so we have more time to ask questions. Certainly, I would love to meet with folks at a later time. As well,

Mr. Morrow, congratulations for all your hard work. You have really committed yourself to learning the language, as the quality of your French attests. As a Franco-Ontarian from Toronto—and there are not a lot of us—I feel that practising French is something we always need to do. Since being elected, I have been lucky to be able to speak it here all the time. After leaving school, I frankly did not have that opportunity.

Today, we also spoke with representatives from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario who have targeted

kindergarten to grade 12—I mean, what happens after grade 12.

If you're in southern Ontario, this is a big problem. There's one francophone university, which is Glendon College. Unless you are in a very specific stream, there's nothing available to you. I wanted to go into IT and computers, and that meant I had to go to an English school. Again, looking at the programs that FedDev is targeting in science and technology, again, all that is going to go

go by the wayside after grade 12 because you can't continue your studies in French in those programs at university.

I'm sorry, I mean to thank you. Immersion schools certainly in the GTA are the destination that parents want to bring their kids to because they see that economic advantage. Keep working on that, and we will have more and more opportunities for parents to put their kids into those immersion programs.

Moving right over to the other side, I was looking at the text and translated text in both languages. Then, of course, the issue came up with the portal. Ms. Achimov, you were speaking about the hits to the website. I had to do a quick search because being in IT.... When I was in high school and doing computer classes, it was in a francophone school, but it was the one place where they taught us all the English terms as well as the French terms, because there was very little use of the French terms in the business world.

But looking at the text,

I see that, in French, it says “visites enregistrées”.

In English, it says, “hits recorded”. Both of these terms don't mean the same thing. This is a translated document in Translation Services. “Hits” is a very broad term. I mean, does this mean unique site visits, clicks, or hits? There are any number of terms go into the word “hits”, whereas

visites enregistrées

is site visits. There's an issue there.

Then, I went onto TERMIUM, and then tried to do a search for “hits”, or

visites enregistrées”,

and I couldn't find the translation. Keep working on that, but there is certainly a lot further to go when talking about technical terms. I couldn't help but jump into that, because with my background, it's specifically what I noticed.

Going back to FedDev, where I will now ask some questions. You mentioned the tools for impact on minority languages. Is there a methodology that was used? Would it be possible to provide that to the committee?

10:25 a.m.

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

Jeff Moore

I'll actually turn that question over to my colleague, if you don't mind.

10:25 a.m.

Susan Anzolin Director General, Innovation and Economic Development, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Thanks, Jeff.

Yes, we do have an impact assessment tool that is based on the metrics that we have identified for each of the programs. The methodology varies in terms of what we are trying to achieve with each of the programs. If the committee members want, we could definitely share the basics of the impact assessment tool and how it identifies where we can determine the impact on official language minority communities.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

I think that is important for us to be looking at.

Also, going back to FedDev, the targeting of the money being spent seems to be largely in engineering, science, and technology, which also happens to be that the minister responsible for FedDev also happens to be the Minister of State (Science and Technology). Of course, myself being deputy critic for science and technology, on the surface I have no problems with that. Why, specifically, is FedDev targeting just those areas?

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you very much, Mr. Harris.

Mr. Moore.

10:25 a.m.

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

Jeff Moore

We actually target more than just science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We also have a number of other programs that we deliver like the EDI program under the road map. We have the community futures development corporations program, which provides assistance to communities on a number of levels. Also, under our southern Ontario advantage initiative, we have the prosperity initiative, which also targets fairly broadly SMEs and not-for-profit organizations involved in productivity enhancements and innovation, as well as regional diversification. So we do quite a bit more than just the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics areas.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Boughen.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Thank you, Chair.

Welcome to the panel. Thanks for taking time to share your morning with us.

It may have been said and I may have missed it, but Donna, I'm talking about your program. Has that been made available to schools, or do you have some relationships, some interface with elementary and secondary schools that utilize that material?

10:25 a.m.

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

Donna Achimov

Mr. Chair and committee members, yes, we work very closely with the school system. We deliberately set up the portal to be accessible to students. We have a great deal of content that we've been able to gather, as you can see, that deals with students, in particular, at various levels. So it is a really good resource, and certainly we work with our partners to make sure that the information is shared and readily available through the school system—with universities as well as across the board.