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Evidence of meeting #36 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 quebec.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jennifer Johnson  Executive Director, Community Health and Social Services Network
James Carter  Program and Policy Advisor, Community Health and Social Services Network
John Aylen  President, Board of Directors, Youth Employment Services
Iris Unger  Executive Director, Youth Employment Services
Kevin O'Donnell  President, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network
Matthew Farfan  Executive Director, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network
Roderick MacLeod  Past President, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network
Paule Langevin  Project Director, Community Learning Centre Inititative, Leading English Education and Resource Network
Debbie Horrocks  Assistant Project Director and Community Liaison Coordinator, Community Learning Centre Initiative, Leading English Education and Resource Network

8:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Welcome to the Standing Committee on Official Languages. It is Thursday, April 5, 2012, and this is our 36th meeting. We are here pursuant to Standing Order 108 in order to continue our study on the evaluation of the roadmap: improving programs and service delivery.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

I would like to raise a point of order, Mr. Chair.

8:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Mr. Bélanger has a point of order.

You have the floor, Mr. Bélanger.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

It is not so much a point of order as a reminder.

You promised us that we would not do what we are in the process of doing this morning. There are four groups of witnesses. It is not fair to the people who are called to testify, because we are reducing their speaking time, to say nothing of the fact that, as members of Parliament, we do not have an appropriate amount of time to ask them questions. I am really disappointed.

On behalf of the committee, I apologize to the witnesses, because we will not have time to have a fruitful exchange.

8:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Well, I appreciate your concerns, but at the same time, I've had conflicting demands from members of the committee as to how they would like this committee structured. Some members, such as yourself, have asked me not to have more than three members on a particular panel. Other members of the committee have asked me not to split the committee into two panels of one hour.

I have to try to juggle these competing interests, and I do my best as chair. What I've asked for this morning, as a compromise, is that we have one panel of four different groups. I've asked that each of the four groups that have so kindly agreed to appear in front of us restrict their opening comments to seven minutes to allow us to move quickly into questions and comments. That's the compromise I've struck in order to balance those two very different suggestions from members of the committee.

Without further ado, we have in front of us today four groups: the Community Health and Social Services Network, represented by Madam Johnson and Mr. Carter; Youth Employment Services, represented by Mr. Aylen and Madam Unger; Mr. Farfan, Mr. O'Donnell, and Mr. MacLeod, representing the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network; and finally, Madam Langevin and Madam Horrocks, representing the Leading English Education and Resource Network.

We'll begin with an opening statement from the Community Health and Social Services Network. I ask all groups to keep their opening statements to seven minutes.

8:45 a.m.

Jennifer Johnson Executive Director, Community Health and Social Services Network

The Community Health and Social Services Network, the CHSSN, is pleased to appear before the standing committee to report on results of the road map with respect to improving the health and well-being of Quebec's English-speaking communities.

The CHSSN is a network of 64 community resources, associations, foundations, public institutions, and other stakeholders dedicated to creating partnerships that enhance services and improve health outcomes for English-speaking communities.

Our experience with the road map investments can be summed up by stating that our communities are stronger, the needs of more of its members are being met, and the Quebec health and social services system shows continued willingness to address the needs of English-speaking people.

The key to success has been an implementation agreement between the CHSSN and the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, through which the CHSSN and its community partners collaborate with Quebec authorities at the provincial, regional, and local levels. Health Canada's innovative and flexible approach to implementing the road map measures has been another key factor in this success.

We are proud of the outcomes and are confident that they are a solid foundation supporting the four priority areas we are proposing for a renewed federal investment in the period ahead.

8:45 a.m.

James Carter Program and Policy Advisor, Community Health and Social Services Network

The CHSSN applies a best practices partnership model consistent with the World Health Organization approach for bringing together all the stakeholders that work to improve the health of a population.

Our program has established 18 community networks across Quebec as a focal point for addressing the needs of English-speaking communities. Over 40 health and social services centres delivering primary care—these are the public institutions in Quebec—along with youth protection agencies and other institutions meeting special needs, now participate on partnership tables with community networks.

I will give you one example of how a network works. In the Gaspé, a group called the Committee for Anglophone Social Action decided it wanted to reach out to isolated seniors who live in historically English-speaking communities in an area known as Cascapédia-Saint-Jules.

Through its community network, it was able to partner with the local health and social services centre and run a biweekly wellness centre for 23 seniors in the area. Animators run physical and mental exercise classes, the local chapter of the Women's Institute cooks lunch, and the public health and social services centre provides transport for the seniors and access to health promotion professionals.

Thanks to the road map investments, approximately 3,000 English-speaking seniors, youth, and families in the Baie des Chaleurs area are directly impacted through health promotion activities.

8:50 a.m.

Executive Director, Community Health and Social Services Network

Jennifer Johnson

The CHSSN works directly with Quebec's health and social services system to implement the road map measures. The CHSSN program of adaptation of health and social service support projects is sponsored by the regional health and social service agencies in 16 regions.

One example addresses the needs of English-speaking communities in the distant region of Côte-Nord.

The regional agency worked with the health and social services centre, the CSSS in Sept-Îles, to create a community liaison program for English-speaking, Naskapi, and Innu patients coming to the hospital. Over a nine-month period, between 600 and 700 persons were directed to appropriate services by this person. The liaison person welcomes English-speaking people from the lower north shore, who have travelled 800 kilometres to get specialized medical treatment.

In order to create new knowledge of the health and well-being of English-speaking communities, the CHSSN identified the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, the INSPQ, as the key institutional partner. The INSPQ has undertaken projects to produce knowledge, through a detailed analysis of population health information, on the health status of English-speaking people and the factors that affect it.

8:50 a.m.

Program and Policy Advisor, Community Health and Social Services Network

James Carter

Educational institutions in Quebec are also playing a key role in implementing the road map measures. The McGill University training and retention of health professionals project, through an implementation agreement with the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, is working to improve the capacity of the health and social services network to meet the needs of English-speaking individuals.

One key measure is the language training program, with a major emphasis on supporting English courses for French-speaking personnel in the public system who are working directly with the population. These are professionals who wish, desire, voluntarily, to improve their English language skills.

In the first three years of the road map investment, well over 3,000 French-speaking professionals participated in the language training program. This result builds on the 5,000 French-speaking professionals who completed language training through the first federal action plan.

In the next few weeks, the Quebec Community Groups Network, QCGN, will submit the health and social service priorities of English-speaking Quebeckers for 2013-2018 to Health Canada. To ensure a timely review by this standing committee, the CHSSN, as the QCGN sector organization in health, is presenting four priorities for renewed federal investment. These priorities emerged from consultations with over 32 focus groups. They actually capture the voices of English-speaking Quebeckers who shared their experience of the health system and their priorities for the future.

We have a brief that goes into more detail.

The first priority is the adaptation of human resources in the Quebec health and social services system. Like all health systems, there is constant turnover of personnel, change, reorganization, and rationalization, so there's a constant need to have input to keep training courses for professionals.

Second, the organizations that deliver services have to adapt their programs to small populations. So we want more road map investments in the Quebec health system so that we can continue to develop programs that are specific to the needs of our communities.

The third priority has to do with information about services in English. Many times, English-speaking people have said that it's very difficult to get information on where services are.

Finally, involvement of the community is key. Community organizations are very efficient in the distribution of information on programs, diseases, and other issues facing the population. They're also the source of volunteers and other community resources that help institutions meet users' needs. Community organizations are instrumental in informing citizens in their efforts to participate in the governance structures of those institutions.

The Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services responded to a QCGN invitation to provide its opinion on the priorities proposed above. Recently, the minister wrote to the QCGN stating his support. He said, “We strongly recommend the renewal of the improvements to the official languages contribution program for health, sponsored by Health Canada”. This comes from the Quebec government.

To conclude, the road map investments have played a key role in enhancing the capacity of our communities to better care for seniors, to equip young people to become productive citizens, and to encourage informed, healthy communities.

We are strongly recommending, with the implementation agreements we've developed with the ministry, that the Government of Canada launch a new contribution program for 2013-2018 to respond to the health priorities of our official language minority communities, including the English-speaking community in Quebec.

Thank you.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

We now have an opening statement from Youth Employment Services.

8:55 a.m.

John Aylen President, Board of Directors, Youth Employment Services

Good morning. I'm the volunteer president of Youth Employment Services. I'm here with Iris Unger, who will be presenting with me.

Canada needs an effective, trained workforce that can fully contribute to Canada's economic vitality. Our future workforce can come from only two sources: youth who are already here and new immigrants to our country. Both of these are clients of Youth Employment Services. In Quebec there is a substantial critical mass of anglophone youth and immigrants who are key to our future prosperity. We need to serve them in English if they are to reach their full potential. We need them if Canada is going to reach its full economic potential.

Minister Kenney, in today's Globe and Mail, the headline for which reads, “Kenney in a hurry to help employers bring world's top talent to Canada”.... Some of that talent is going to come to Quebec, or at least it must if Quebec is to remain strong. We are there to ensure that the people who do come maximize their potential.

8:55 a.m.

Iris Unger Executive Director, Youth Employment Services

Youth Employment Services was set up in 1995 by a group of leaders in the community who were concerned about the issue of youth retention in Quebec. The organization provides direct services to over 4,000 people annually, including those who need help finding employment, individuals who want to start small businesses, and artists who need help creating an economic future through their art.

We do this through a variety of programs, including one-on-one business coaching and counselling. We see over 2,000 people through business sessions, and over 4,000 people come to us who need help with employment issues. We do workshops and events, and we really try to use our networks to maximize the potential of the clients who come to see us.

We host more than five conferences per year geared towards artists, employment counsellors, and entrepreneurs, and we reach over 1,000 people through these events. We also have an extensive mentorship program. In partnership with HRSDC through the youth employment strategies, we are able to do internships on an annual basis. We also offer several types of new internship programs to help integrate new graduates into the workforce.

Our physical space is located in downtown Montreal between Concordia and McGill, and we provide free access to a variety of resources, including computers, Internet connections, a library, faxes, and, most importantly, a place for people to meet to work on their job searches and businesses. We also publish several books, and we provide business skills to artists.

The number of clients started at 500 in 1995, and today we see over 4,000 people. We see those 4,000 people over 16,000 times. Our budget when we started in 1995, with a grant through a foundation, was $100,000, and today our budget is $1.6 million. It consists of funding from the federal and provincial governments, foundations, corporations, and we do a lot of fundraising on our own.

We have over 350 very active volunteers, and close to 700 volunteers we can call on at any time who help with our networks. We have partnerships with the business community, arts, academic, not-for-profit, and media sectors, and we leverage all those sectors to the maximum. Through our networks we are not only able to access valuable, in-kind resources, but we are able to help our clients build and grow their own networks.

We also head up the employment round table, which was created in 1998 specifically when the federal government transferred payments to the province on issues related to employment. It was started with five organizations that were very concerned about the impact this transfer would have on this particular sector. It continues to meet today to monitor that impact on these organizations. It's been a challenge, and we'll talk about that a little later. The only program that has been left with the federal jurisdiction is the youth employment strategies piece.

The table is currently made up of about 22 organizations that provide English language services in a variety of ways. Many of them offer bilingual services, but some of them offer exclusively English services. The majority of the members are not-for-profit, community-based service providers that have contracts with Emploi-Québec to provide direct services to the most vulnerable populations in our community—people with disabilities, visible minorities, new arrivals, women, people over 45, and youth. The group meets five to six times a year to discuss issues of common concern, and mostly to monitor the impact the transfers are having on the minority community. This is the only organization in Quebec that looks at these particular issues that impact the English-speaking employment service providers.

Three major challenges for this sector have come out of the round table and our experience at Youth Employment Services. The first is the impact of the devolution of the funding from the federal government to the provincial government and its impact on our community. Since the transfer of responsibility for employment from the federal government to the provincial government, there do not appear to be any provisions to ensure adequate support services to the minority community. For example, we see over 1,000 people at our centre, and Emploi-Québec funds 380. For the balance we have to do our own fundraising or look for other sources. Because Emploi-Québec is the sole provider of employment, it becomes a challenge.

I'd better talk very quickly, as I just noticed there's only a minute left.

The mission of Emploi-Québec does not meet the needs of our particular population. The proliferation of centralized government and para-government service organizations doesn't meet the needs of the English-speaking community for a variety of reasons. The potential loss of community-based organizations is a real threat, whether it's in employment or any other community organization.

I'm going to go quickly through the results of the investment of the road map. We currently get road map money from Canada Economic Development, which has been a major supporter of the work we do at YES, and it allows us to provide essential services. We start about 200 businesses a year. We also get money for a regional project to help provide our services out into the regions. We have a youth initiative project with Canadian Heritage, an arts program, and we have our internship, as I mentioned, with HRSDC. As well, I'm pleased to say that this week we signed an agreement with the Status of Women to help more women go into technology.

I'm going to quickly hand it over to John to discuss some of our recommendations.

9 a.m.

President, Board of Directors, Youth Employment Services

John Aylen

Very good.

Our brief provides seven recommendations, which I will not go into detail about. But communities need the stability of secure financial support, so we need large amounts of money for a long time. We need to continue the investment in the road map. We need to examine the model being developed around our regional project. We need the regional project initiative to be implemented for employment services as well as for entrepreneurship. We need to ensure that the needs of the minority community are considered when funds are transferred to the province. We need to provide moneys where services are provided remotely and virtually. We need to invest in community organizations that can broker the moneys invested in them with volunteers and other support from the business community.

Vulnerable populations, including youth and new immigrants, first seek the services of their local community groups for support. These groups need financial resources to ensure their long-term stability and sustainability. Youth retention and attraction as well as successful integration of new arrivals is key to the future of the English minority communities, the future of Quebec, and the future of Canada as a whole.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you very much.

Now we will have an opening statement from the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network.

9:05 a.m.

Kevin O'Donnell President, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, we are glad to have this opportunity to be here today to thank the Government of Canada for the support it has given to us through the roadmap.

I just wanted to point out that you have all received, in both French and English…

our brief, “Preserving Our Heritage Together”.

We also have magazines and other brochures that refer to our organization.

First of all, this morning we would like to talk to you about who we are, what we do, whom we represent, what we have done with the road map funding we have received, and the impact of this funding in the community. We'd like to talk a bit about the significance of road map funding for our mission and activities, and then whether QAHN recommends that the support for minority communities represented by the road map be continued in the next funding cycle.

And not to keep you in too much suspense for the last item, the answer is yes, we do recommend that.

I'm going to turn the mike over to my colleague, Matthew Farfan.

9:05 a.m.

Matthew Farfan Executive Director, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network

Hello, everybody. I'm pleased to be here.

Founded in 2000, the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, QAHN, or the RPAQ, Réseau du patrimoine anglophone du Québec, is a non-profit, non-partisan umbrella organization of some 90 historical societies, local museums, and other cultural and heritage organizations spread out all over the province of Quebec and concerned with heritage. We also have about 250 individual members.

QAHN aims to promote a greater understanding of the history of Quebec's English-speaking communities by informing, connecting, and inspiring members and the greater public through our publications, our projects, and various events we hold. Membership is open to any organization or individual, regardless of language or cultural affiliation, with a positive interest in the history, heritage, and culture of Quebec's English-speaking communities. Our membership, in fact, includes a number of essentially francophone organizations across Quebec as well.

We have three priority goals: strengthening our core membership through providing opportunities for networking, communication, and collaboration on projects and other member services; engaging our local communities, providing strategies and tools to encourage more Quebeckers to join, use, and support the work of volunteer-based local heritage organizations; and making our stories known through our print, magazine, and online publications and through the activities of local organizations whose work we support and encourage.

I'll turn you over to Rod MacLeod, our past president.

9:05 a.m.

Roderick MacLeod Past President, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network

As Matthew just indicated, we have a great number of core members and affiliate members and individual members reaching across the province. I'd just like to add to this that some of them are extremely small and fragile, but they are extremely dedicated and hard-working and extremely keen on promoting their local history and heritage. We like to think we are providing a great service to them, because they are otherwise unable to conduct much of their work.

Through our contact with these groups and our participation with the Quebec Community Groups Network and the Fédération Histoire Québec, who are having a congrès in May in Sherbrooke—and you all have a brochure to that effect—we feel we are entitled to speak on behalf of the English-speaking population in Quebec in areas touching history and heritage.

I refer you back to Kevin.

9:05 a.m.

President, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network

Kevin O'Donnell

So what have we done with the road map funding?

So far we've put together three projects: SHOMI, StoryNet, and HOMEI, and we have another one called SOFTI that we're waiting for at this point. If someone wonders why all our things end in “I”, it turns out that way. They rejected our TIEDOMI request, but anyway, what can I say.

SHOMI, our spoken heritage online multimedia initiative, received $220,000, and essentially it was in two parts. Part of it we digitized. Our members over the last several decades now have interviewed people, and they've all been on analog tape, sometimes in damp basements and so on. We got some 440 hours of this material from all over the province and we had it digitized and put online, in collaboration with our partner, Concordia University. Plus, we had a number of initiatives in museums across the province. That was a big project, and it was very successful.

StoryNet is one we're working on right now. That's a very interesting project that will involve a number of partners. As the title says, we're there to tell the stories. The important thing is to make sure we don't lose all the different experiences of what it's like to be living in Quebec, especially as a member of the minority community.

HOMEI, the heritage online multimedia enhancement initiative, received $115,000 from Canada Economic Development. That was designed to upgrade our websites. We now have a very good website and a series of what we call web magazines, regional ones for the Gaspé, the Outaouais, Montreal, and other places. HOMEI was designed to make sure there was a tourist aspect, if you will. It was practical that it was there.

I'm going to turn it over to Matthew.

9:10 a.m.

Executive Director, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network

Matthew Farfan

I'm going to talk a little about the impact specifically of road map funding in our local communities.

Historical societies and museums carry out lots of things: they research, publish books, mount exhibitions, conduct tours, take care of long-neglected cemeteries and other heritage sites, often including buildings that are falling down and in need of repair. Many of these activities are well beyond both the financial and the human resources available through volunteer efforts. Many volunteers, especially seniors, have difficulty navigating the new online media and the increasingly complex maze of funding programs available at different levels of government. This is why our member organizations appreciate the funding from the road map and the efforts that QAHN makes to procure these funds.

I have one minute? Okay.

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

If you could wrap up, that would be great.

9:10 a.m.

Executive Director, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network

Matthew Farfan

Yes, I'll wrap up.

I'm going to quote from testimony from one of the groups that benefited through one of these projects in Wakefield, Quebec, the Fairbairn House:

The value of funding such unique initiatives in remote rural Anglophone communities in Quebec cannot be overstated. In future, we at Fairbairn House will rely on such programs to develop tools and resources for our communities […] We look forward to working with QAHN on future projects for cultural development.

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you very much.

We'll now have an opening statement from the Leading English Education and Resource Network.

9:10 a.m.

Paule Langevin Project Director, Community Learning Centre Inititative, Leading English Education and Resource Network

Good morning. I am delighted to be with you today to speak about an exciting initiative that is having a growing and substantial impact on the anglophone minority community in Quebec. I am of course referring to the network of community and education centres in the anglophone education sector in Quebec.

My name is Paule Langevin and I am the director of the provincial management team, whose job is to guide the implementation of the network and to contribute to its upkeep in the province. With me today is Debbie Horrocks, Assistant Project Director and Community Liaison Coordinator.

The concept of community learning centres, or CLCs, is simple: the education and participation of students at school, their leadership and their commitment to the community are consolidated through family and community support. In the same way, the school helps the families and the community in which these students live. The basic principle is that of a school rooted in its community and open to all of its members. It requires a change of culture within the school structure and a change of perception of the school on the part of the parents and community partners. This is not always easy to achieve.

The primary goal of the CLCs, initially funded six years ago by Canadian Heritage, was to promote the social well-being and development of youth, as we knew that school education alone is not enough. We had to encourage the community in which the school is located to participate in programs so as to develop a sense of belonging and to breathe new energy into the school and the surrounding community.

9:10 a.m.

Debbie Horrocks Assistant Project Director and Community Liaison Coordinator, Community Learning Centre Initiative, Leading English Education and Resource Network

We have built up our capacity with a team of coordinators who are passionate about their work and are committed to making a difference in their individual communities. Supporting and guiding each CLC is a group of committed stakeholders—community organizations, school boards, governmental agencies, and a volunteer partnership table. We are doing amazing things with a relatively small budget, but there is constant pressure to keep the schools open longer, the lights on, and our programs running.

Our future is uncertain. Our reality includes less government funding, fewer donations, families with reduced income, school boards under threat, and communities with increased expectations of their CLC. This is why it is imperative that the federal government continue to support the initiative in the new road map.

There are 37 CLCs at different stages of implementation located in vastly different contexts. Some are situated in the remotest areas of the province, where there are no roads connecting villages. Others are located in urban centres. There is a mix of elementary, high school, and adult centres, with student populations ranging from 45 students to 1,500. The reality is that each CLC needs to find tailor-made solutions to answer the unique needs of its students, families, and communities.

CLCs are transforming schools into vibrant centres of lifelong learning and community life. Buildings that used to close when the students left are now open until 10 p.m. for six and in many cases seven days a week and in the summer. It isn't unusual to find senior citizens reading to five-year-olds and grade 6 students teaching seniors how to use computers so that they can e-mail their grandchildren.

9:15 a.m.

Project Director, Community Learning Centre Inititative, Leading English Education and Resource Network

Paule Langevin

The most important impact of setting up a community learning centre is the emphasis placed on partners, who contribute in cash or in kind. “Together, we can do more” is the maxim that describes and underpins the relationship of co-operation between the school and the community. We all work together to expand the possibilities of lifelong learning.

Last year, our partners provided a contribution equivalent to more than $2.5 million. We have relied on more than 350 partners in various projects. This allowed us to offer services, resources and programs that did not exist before the creation of the CLCs.

In its March 2011 report, the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages indicates:

[The partners] contribute to the revitalization of the English-speaking communities, help to develop a sense of belonging to the community, provide an opportunity to build bridges between generations and between the school and the community, while offering services and activities that are tailored to the needs of each region.

The work with partners from various sectors is a balancing act. The CLCs endeavour to meet the particular needs of their community, whether it is with youth, in health, education, art or culture, while encouraging more substantial community involvement, in order to improve the chances of success and student participation.

Furthermore, the CLCs increased communities' connectedness, reduced isolation, improved accessibility to various activities, information and resources, all in English, and allowed for services to be provided in a new form, services that hitherto were not accessible to community members.

The CLCs helped build what was sorely lacking in the anglophone community: networks, partnerships and relationships, not only between the schools and the existing anglophone community organizations, but also with the services offered by the provinces and the regions, the NGOs and with various policy discussion groups.