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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

April 5th, 2012 / 9:55 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Thank you very much.

And thank you again, everyone, for coming today.

I'm going to apologize to those I don't ask questions of; don't feel ignored, but with only five minutes there's only so much time.

Of course, I've heard a few folks mention the exhaustive consultation process that took place after the action plan. That more than likely led to the improvements that have been seen in the road map. I want to stress this for the Heritage department, when they eventually hear this, because they made a rather unfortunate decision that they're going to use our committee study rather than doing their own in-depth consultation, and we abhor that decision. They themselves even admit that the answers received from witnesses would have been different if the witnesses knew the study was going to be used for that purpose.

So I'm going to put that on the record again.

I'm going to start with YES, Youth Employment Services. As I'm one of the younger parliamentarians around, it's critical. In my province of Ontario, we're dealing with approximately a 17% youth unemployment rate.

What's the unemployment rate for youth in Quebec right now?

9:55 a.m.

President, Board of Directors, Youth Employment Services

John Aylen

Frankly, I couldn't tell you, but I would suspect it's above 10%.

9:55 a.m.

Executive Director, Youth Employment Services

Iris Unger

I think it's pretty close to 17%. I have an article here from The Gazette from yesterday morning with the exact number. We get called upon quite often, and we usually get the most up-to-date statistics; it's very high.

9:55 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Yes, it is critical that we deal with that issue, because we're robbing the next generation of economic opportunities. Of course, they're the generation dealing with massive student debt as well.

What other ministries do you receive funds or support from?

9:55 a.m.

Executive Director, Youth Employment Services

Iris Unger

We receive funding from Canadian Heritage, HRSDC, as I mentioned, Status of Women, Canada Economic Development—those four—plus we seek provincial money.

9:55 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Okay.

By the way, congratulations on getting that money from Status of Women. I come from the IT sector, and we do need more of a gender balance in that sector.

9:55 a.m.

Executive Director, Youth Employment Services

Iris Unger

We're very excited about it.

9:55 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Just like, for instance, in child care, you need more gender balance on the other side.

Speaking of HRSDC and their recent decision to close youth employment centres, have you yourselves made use of those employment centres or referred your members, the people you serve, to those centres before?

10 a.m.

Executive Director, Youth Employment Services

Iris Unger

We have not. We partnered with them when they were around. We did presentations about our services, but we're very aware of the closing of the centres. We have some issues with it because one of the things we find is that young people, when they're doing their job search, work in isolation at home and think they're going to get jobs off the computer and virtually. We try to get them into our centre because that's how they're going to get the jobs: through networking, through support, and through one-on-one coaching.

The other issue is we're seeing a lot more mental health issues with young people. They're getting very stressed about being unemployed.

10 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

That one is certainly I think a catch-22, because of course most employers now ask people to submit online so as to limit their own HR costs and needs. It creates a bit of a vicious circle, but please continue in those efforts, because that isolation is very similar to what new Canadians are often facing with language barriers, where you just end up in that spiral and can't get out.

10 a.m.

Executive Director, Youth Employment Services

Iris Unger

Can I add that only about 20% of people get jobs through the Internet? Employers may be saying that people should do that, but at the end of the day, that's not how they're doing their hiring.

10 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

No, it's most certainly not.

10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

One minute.

10 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

I apologize, but I'll have to stop there on that.

We had ELAN in here on Tuesday, and of course, as Monsieur Bélanger was mentioning, the differences for CBC and Radio-Canada.... In the rest of Canada, it certainly helps to protect the French language for the minority, whereas in Quebec it serves more of a cultural purpose.

QAHN, as you mentioned, there have been no cuts necessarily in official languages, and I think that's partially to the credit of this committee, the work we've been doing, and the attention we've brought to this. But the CBC, of course, is facing huge cutbacks and has just announced 700 job cuts in the regions. In the smaller areas, in local media, and with the radio, we have serious concerns that this is going to affect the official language minority communities. Would you please provide a comment on that?

10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Very briefly, please.

10 a.m.

President, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network

Kevin O'Donnell

The CBC Quebec community network is a very important element for communities outside of the Montreal area and so on. Yes, we can get TV signals and so on from the States, but the CBC itself is very, very important. Certainly in the border areas and so on, virtually that's what they have. It's important. Actually, we're looking at it with trepidation.

On the difference between language and culture, it gets a little.... I'm not exactly sure how to parse that. You have to get your news and information and that sense of solidarity.

10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Okay. Thank you.

Mr. Menegakis.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank all of our witnesses from all the groups that are here today for appearing before us.

It's certainly interesting. In the last couple of meetings, we've really heard about what's happening in the English-speaking minority communities in Quebec. I was born and raised in Montreal and educated there.

You mentioned McGill and Concordia, and I'm on the Concordia side. I also confess that I'm among the 99%, in that I'm close to Westmount, but Van Horne and Décarie is not Westmount.

Before I start with my questions, I've heard my colleagues opposite mention a couple of times now that the department is replacing their consultation with our study. This is an important study. It's an investment. The road map represents an investment of some $1.1 billion. So we're taking a long time in order to have an opportunity to speak to all of the stakeholders, but under no circumstances is it replacing the consultative process the department is doing.

This is going to be value-added information, of course—and very valuable information—that we give them from our study after hearing from all stakeholders such as you. The department will take that into consideration, as will the minister, along with the consultative work that is being done, and quite comprehensively, I might add, by the ministry itself.

In the very short time I have I want to focus a little bit on the youth. It's an interesting comment to say that our communities are in danger. And I agree. Minority communities across the country have different sets of circumstances. The francophone community outside of Quebec is spread across a vast land, whereas the anglophone community within Quebec is more concentrated, if you will.

I've always maintained—and my colleagues, I believe, share this with me—that the way to attract the youth is through cultural programs within the communities, through sports, recreation, and cultural programs. Can you give me your thoughts on that, please? All of your groups can respond.

10:05 a.m.

President, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network

Kevin O'Donnell

I can take one example. A.S. Johnson High School in Thetford Mines has a tremendous sense of volunteerism, thanks to the work of their local language community, MCDC. I think that of the 52 high school students or graduates, 36 of them are involved in volunteering in different things, everything from helping seniors with computers and teaching them all about Facebook and that kind of thing to helping to rake their yards.

It's interesting, you can hear this on the CLC podcast. They listen to the older generation. They were listening to a Mr. Young. He's 92 years old and he's telling them about what it was like when he was growing up in B.C. He's now in Thetford Mines, but he grew up with Pierre Berton.

There's a very articulate young lady, and Ms. Horrocks can maybe give us the exact URL, but it certainly is worth listening to. It's incredibly inspiring.

These same kids have a five- or six-minute video on YouTube right now about volunteering, about their community. I would urge everyone to take a look at that video because it really does give you a tremendous sense of what young people are all about today. They're very articulate and appreciative of their communities.

10:05 a.m.

Executive Director, Community Health and Social Services Network

Jennifer Johnson

The health and social services sector has recognized that when the kids go away to university in Montreal, one of the most important things is to encourage them to come back and work in their communities. A number of things have been put in place using road map funding, such as internship programs so that kids studying in health and social services programming have the opportunity to go back to their communities and do their internships locally.

We just introduced a bursary program. I think 32 bursaries were given to students who are studying in health and social services. That encourages them to recognize that their communities are supporting them, and we hope they'll go home and look at their options of practising their skills in their communities.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Madame Unger, very briefly.

10:05 a.m.

Executive Director, Youth Employment Services

Iris Unger

We have an arts program. I think Montreal is being perceived as a cultural centre, and a lot of young people are coming to Montreal. I'm always saying that youth are going to be mobile, so we shouldn't be trying to hold them in our communities, but we should be encouraging those who are flocking to Montreal, quite literally, who want to stay in Montreal, because of the perception that it's a creative place to be right now.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you very much.

Monsieur Lapointe.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to concentrate on some of the difficulties you have raised. I am very curious to better grasp or understand them. As I live in a region whose population is 99.7% francophone, I do not claim to have a precise understanding of the problems experienced by anglophone communities. In my opinion, they may be the best levers to justify the argument that maintaining the funding is essential.

I would like to start with a question for Ms. Unger. My question has two components.

First, could you give us some details on how the services work? For example, your workshops on personal support, are they given by volunteers, by professionals on contract or by members of full-time staff?

Also, could you help me to better understand why Emploi Québec is not succeeding in meeting the needs of the anglophone community? In what sorts of ways do they not make appropriate connections? Is this lack of connections specific to certain regions of Quebec? Why do the youth employment centres, the local development centres and the local employment centres not offer appropriate service to some anglophone communities?

10:10 a.m.

Executive Director, Youth Employment Services

Iris Unger

All right. May I answer you in English?