Bonjour, Monsieur Chong.
Thank you, all members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages.
Thank you for granting us this opportunity to appear before you this morning and to share some of our experiences concerning the road map for Canada's linguistic duality.
I am Gerald Cutting, president of the Townshippers' Association. Just to set a context, our territory is as large as some European countries.
We have been working on behalf of the English-speaking community since 1979, and since then, we have had 32 townshippers' days, awarded 56 individuals as outstanding townshippers for their amazing contributions, and celebrated 23 youth for their incredible demonstrations of leadership and commitment to our community.
Our association has evolved greatly over the past three decades, but so has our community.
We are the door that the English-speaking community knocks on. We are a reliable source of information and the go-to place for multiple services and resources. We work with the federal government to ensure that the English-speaking community in the townships has the best possible access to services, information, and representation. We continue to find innovative and sustainable ways to mobilize and inform our community.
As the cost of operating a non-profit organization rises, the funding available to answer to the increasing demands of our population becomes scarcer, while contribution agreements add tremendous administrative requirements that place additional burdens on administration, leaving fewer funds available for ground work.
Fortunately, our association has gained momentum over the years. We have a solid knowledge base and the experience to represent our community, rally on its behalf, and build capacity.
Helping community members mobilize and form sustainable support groups and grassroots initiatives is just one example.
Network development through strategic collaboration has been an objective of our association over the past five years, and it will continue to be in the next five. In all sectors—health and social services, community renewal, economic prosperity, youth—a strong network with stakeholders that work collaboratively to achieve positive results is a key factor to guarantee this success.
Road map funding over the past five years has contributed to the development of these networks, and through these programs we have recognized very positive and concrete results.
These networks have become solid structures that are crucial to help support us in our important mission to maintain the vitality of the English-speaking community of the Eastern Townships. Over the past five years we have hired eight students with the Young Canada Works program.
We have helped support 20 interns studying in the health and services sector, and we have helped them find employment in the regions through the McGill recruitment and retention program funded by Health Canada.
We also helped 21 young adults gain experience and reintegrate into the work market with funding from Service Canada and their skills development program. This is not to mention the artists we have helped with marketing their work; the thousands of participants annually at our townshippers' day; the hundreds of underprivileged families that we help with income tax clinics, legal information hotlines, referral services; and so much more.
Although requests for our service have increased, our credibility rises and we accomplish solid, measurable, and sustainable results with the funding that is accorded to us, despite the fact that our reality is one of an aging, low income, scattered community with low levels of education. We can no longer rely on donations and membership fees to support all of our initiatives. Government funding is crucial to our existence. And I assure you of this: our existence is crucial in assuring the vitality of our community, granting us a voice, and forging for us a place within Quebec society.
The federal government must continue to recognize the importance of developing programs that support official language minority communities, through both program funding and project funding that will allow us to continue our work and to maintain the momentum we have gained over the past years, and by supporting us in the continual development of relationships with our public and community partners through our well-established networks, while continuing to recognize the concrete and measurable results we have achieved.
To reiterate some of the points already made in the Senate report, The Vitality of Quebec's English-Speaking Communities: From Myth to Reality , there were 16 excellent recommendations that were made.
We trust that you will consider these recommendations, as well as the issues and priorities that have been identified by community groups from across Quebec, along with the help of the Quebec Community Groups Network. The big three for us are consultation, communication, and cooperation between governments, with community organizations, and within the networks. These are the keys that will ensure positive results and help identify key priorities. Through the implementation of these strategies together, as partners working in support of our linguistic minority communities, we can continue to accomplish outstanding positive results.
Thank you once again for granting us this opportunity to demonstrate the crucial nature of this funding and the necessity of supporting our association. We remain humbled by this opportunity to appear before you, and we are ready to attempt to answer any and all questions.
Thank you again.