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Evidence of meeting #37 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 research.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Josianne Beaumont  Second Vice-President, Board of Directors, Fédération franco-ténoise
Claire Beaubien  Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise
Mylène Chartrand  Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut
Mathieu René  Director, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut
Jules Custodio  President, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador
Éric Forgues  Researcher, Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities
Léo-Paul Provencher  Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise
Gaël Corbineau  Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

All right, thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Weston.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Ms. Ambler, you have the floor.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thank all the witnesses for coming. I appreciated hearing your remarks.

I'm curious today about the geography angle. In particular, I'd like to know a little more about the challenges of the territory and if there is anything currently in the road map that helps you address those unique challenges that you face in the north, and also in Newfoundland and Labrador.

9:55 a.m.

Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise

Léo-Paul Provencher

Madam, I have a few comments on your question. Do you mean the human geography or geography in the sense of territory? I can comment on both.

I would be inclined to view your question from the standpoint of human geography as a particular characteristic of the Northwest Territories, where approximately 50% of the population is aboriginal and 50% non-aboriginal, or white. There are 11 official languages, which do not all have the same status. As for distances, we are far from everything. Virtually all communities can only be reached by air.

It costs more than $1,000 for our president, who comes from Inuvik, to travel to Yellowknife. So distances are an extremely important factor. There is the isolation caused by the distances, but the travel costs for our representatives and volunteers are enormous. For example, it costs at least $15,000 for one weekend meeting. The situation is not the same in the major cities of other Canadian provinces.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

I believe Ms. Beaubien has something to say.

9:55 a.m.

Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise

Claire Beaubien

Yes. That is why we said earlier that, when we submit a project, it costs $35,000, for transportation alone. For the youth project we have just submitted, the amount is incredible as a result of the remoteness. We need that money. Once we get the people, they have to be housed. I'm sure you are experiencing exactly the same thing.

I don't know whether that answers your question, but I thought it was important to point that out.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Yes. Thank you.

9:55 a.m.

Director, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut

Mathieu René

With regard to the technical aspect, we all know that an airplane ticket is expensive. I would like to emphasize that there is no ground access to Nunavut. Transportation is by boat in summer and by cargo aircraft in winter. Everything has to be planned. The day care expansion must be planned well in advance. I find it unfortunate that we have to lower the quality of those events and services provided.

We were talking about early childhood earlier. We must not make cuts to the quality of the services provided to children and parents. That is the point I want to make. It is fundamentally important to take our geographic situation into account in the next roadmap.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

What kinds of services for children are you talking about?

10 a.m.

Director, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut

Mathieu René

I am thinking, for example, about having to lower our employment standards when hiring early childhood educators to offset the high construction cost of expanding the day care centre. It's not really worthwhile to have a large day care centre if you can't offer good services. That high-cost portion must be offset by something other than a reduction in another area.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

What ratios are we looking at in your territory of children to instructor, child care provider, or day care provider?

10 a.m.

Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut

Mylène Chartrand

The day care centre currently has 16 spaces, I believe, and there are 2 educators.

10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

That's good, thank you.

Thank you very much, Madam Ambler.

Madam Michaud.

April 24th, 2012 / 10 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

First of all, I want to welcome all the witnesses. Thank you very much for being here.

I also want to join my colleagues in thanking the people from the Fédération franco-ténoise and the Association des francophones du Nunavut for talking about the study on the north.

In November, I had a chance to attend the general meeting of the Association franco-yukonnaise. So I already have some idea of northern realities. I think it would be very beneficial for all members of this committee to have more information on your situation before developing a next roadmap.

So thank you for making that comment, and I hope your voices will ultimately be heard by this government.

Mr. Forgues, I believe you also raised some very interesting points regarding research. We have not addressed that point enough in committee. I have a few questions for you.

We recently heard, from The Globe and Mail, for example, about budget cuts at Statistics Canada and the consequences that could have for subsequent studies.

Could you tell us more specifically about the effect that those cutbacks at Statistics Canada could have on official languages research?

10 a.m.

Researcher, Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities

Éric Forgues

That will depend on the choices made by the agency. However, these are 8% cuts in addition to reduced commissions by the various departments, whose funding is also being cut.

That could well reduce the amount of data produced by the firm. The choices made by the agency will really have to be monitored closely because, if they have an impact on major surveys on the demographic situation of the minority communities, that could be a concern.

We know that research is a tool that the various organizations use. We need the data in order to take stock of our communities. I believe this is a concern. We really must monitor the cuts that might result from the decisions that are made.

10 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Thank you.

Do you recommend that Statistics Canada be part of the government's next official language plan and that a research component also be included?

10 a.m.

Researcher, Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities

Éric Forgues

Yes. As I mentioned, I believe Statistics Canada already plays an important role in the implementation of the last roadmap, by providing data that are essential for the work of the organizations. I believe that Statistics Canada's role should be recognized and that the agency should be an official partner in the next roadmap.

I also believe that was the gist of the comments by the Statistics Canada representative who came and testified here. I agree with that.

10 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

That's good.

In your presentation, you also talked about the fact that the CIHR had abandoned its research program for the official language minority communities. Could you tell us about the direct effects that its abandonment may have on the official language minority communities?

10 a.m.

Researcher, Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities

Éric Forgues

By creating a research program on the minority communities, it was as though the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the CIHR, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the SSHRC, were sending a message that research is legitimate.

I submitted a project to a regular competition, that is to say one that did not concern the minority communities. In that case, we were evaluated by other anglophone or francophone researchers from Quebec who did not necessarily understand the problems of the minority communities . My application was rejected on the following grounds: why conduct research on minority health services when francophones are bilingual? I mentioned that in the brief. We have to justify ourselves. It takes only a minor objection by an evaluator for one's application to be rejected.

When a program concerns minority communities, agencies send the message that it is legitimate to conduct research on the communities. We do not have to convince anybody. We take it for granted that the people evaluating us have understood that it is important to conduct research. They properly evaluate the projects that are submitted. This is really a way of lowering the barriers that were noted by the study of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages on research. This is one way of lowering the barriers that minority researchers face.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Thank you very much.

How much time do I have left?

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

You have 30 second left.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

I'm going to ask a brief question. You mentioned the effects of the cost of living and manpower mobility in the northern communities. What would you recommend to the government on this topic? I would like to have a brief answer from the two associations.

10:05 a.m.

Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut

Mylène Chartrand

Given the high costs, we should avoid making cuts elsewhere in order to develop a project in another place, as Mathieu said.

10:05 a.m.

Director, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut

Mathieu René

Here we are talking about cuts to already available funding. That means that, if available services are reduced, the finished product will definitely be less appealing. Vitality will therefore be undermined