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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

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Ms. Beaubien or Mr. Provencher, do you have anything to add, briefly?

10:05 a.m.

Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise

Claire Beaubien

I think early childhood is an important player. The community centre would do an enormous amount of good in promoting community, a sense of belonging. That could have an enormous impact on staff retention. French-language health services are another aspect that counts for a lot. If you have only one child, that's fine, but when you have two, you have to multiply by two. So decisions have to be made.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

I understand because I come from a family with three children.

Thank you.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Menegakis, you have the floor.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning and welcome. Thank you for your testimony.

My first question is for the representatives of the Fédération franco-ténoise, the Association des francophones du Nunavut and the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador.

Your organization has received funding from the roadmap program. Can you tell us about your organization's programs that have been strengthened as a result of that funding? I am speaking to all three organizations.

10:05 a.m.

Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise

Léo-Paul Provencher

Ultimately, the basic funding granted to the community organizations of the Northwest Territories is approximately $600,000 a year, and it is supplemented by ad hoc projects. Core funding makes it possible to maintain a minimum level of community infrastructure to support the activities designed to provide services to the community, whether it be for youth, seniors, immigration, health or something else. A minimum human resource and organization level is required to maintain the community vitality of a network. Beyond that, the infrastructure put in place over time has consisted of schools, day care centres, the college I talked about earlier, the continued existence of the radio station and a newspaper, despite a very small number of people. That is essential.

In response to your question, sir, I would like to comment on the impact that human resource retention and turnover have had on our governance capability. We do not always evaluate the consequences of the fact that the administrative staff and volunteers of our organizations change regularly. That requires a very significant degree of governance support and virtually constant or continual training. Every year, there are new people around our tables and taking over the leadership of community development. Our ties with the communities and government organizations have to be re-established regularly. Federal officials experience the same thing.

I have witnessed the change in resources at Canadian Heritage every year or every other year for the past eight years. Those people are also facing the challenge of taking charge of themselves as a community.

From a community management standpoint, constantly training people to take charge of themselves as a community is an enormous challenge.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you.

Ms. Chartrand or Mr. René, what is your situation?

10:10 a.m.

Director, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut

Mathieu René

As a result of the roadmap, the AFN is able to pay the salaries of our management staff and of the people who organize activities. That makes it possible for our small community to develop fully in French. As Mr. Provencher just explained, without that, it is hard to continue activities. Without money, there is no management, no activities. It is difficult to achieve the roadmap's objectives since there are no unifying events. No sense of belonging is being created among the francophones in our community. People will not demand French-language services or speak French because they don't know those kinds of services are offered.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

How is it with you, Mr. Corbineau?

10:10 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

Gaël Corbineau

I won't repeat everything my colleagues have said, but the two answers they have just given reflect our situation to a great extent. The roadmap has definitely made it possible to achieve a lot of progress in recent years. Since 2008, a major organization, our provincial community radio station, has been put in place. I won't describe the history of the past 40 years. The situation has evolved with regard to early childhood and our schools. Our health system is making a greater effort to make people aware of health care, and we have all our sectoral organizations.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Benskin, you have the floor.

April 24th, 2012 / 10:10 a.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Thank you and welcome.

I am a new member to the committee and I'm going to make a brief comment in English because it's less elegant when I speak French.

There is something I'm picking up on and something I want to throw out there.

I am talking about what Mr. Forgues said.

It's on his request to do a study, and being asked why he needed to do a study, because French people are bilingual.

In general, we are not just talking about language.

There were certain comments made by a couple of groups about raising their children in a French milieu.

That's culture, whether it be in Quebec or outside Quebec.

It's a question of retaining that culture and all the things that surround the culture—the language being the central aspect.

I'm going to put it out there and say that we need to think about this less as simply a language issue but more as a cultural issue.

Today, 97% of people under 35 in Quebec's anglophone communities are perfectly bilingual.

There is still a desire to hang on to the Quebec anglophone culture within that community. I'm picking up the same sorts of desires from the north in particular—and I'm sure in Newfoundland as well—to not only develop and hold on to the language but to develop the culture, which I'm sure is unique to the north itself.

As this committee continues, this is something we need to hang on to. This is not simply a question of language; it is a question of culture.

A few of you talked about the community radio station and communications in the north. I come from the cultural world. If possible, I just want to extend the discussion to include the role of community radio.

I would also like to know whether the cuts to CBC/Radio-Canada are having an effect on your northern communities.

10:15 a.m.

Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise

Léo-Paul Provencher

Your question is very broad, sir. I agree with you on the correlation between language and culture. When you talk about one, you are talking about the other. The organization of a community and sharing the land are part of the same phenomenon.

When you associate the roadmap with the development of a culture in a given community where numbers are small, such as the north, that means that a community has the means to establish a development plan. For example, the roadmap made it possible to produce an overall development plan in the Northwest Territories from 2008 to 2010. That plan gave us tools to establish partnerships with the other communities living in the same territory as us. They of course gave us the means to develop as organizations, but also to develop francophone and bilingual businesses. We also developed ties with the other aspects of the community.

As for radio and the media, we could talk about that for a long time. For example, if we never hear a francophone voice when we turn the radio on in the morning, we don't feel at home. People who want to live in the Northwest Territories for a long time need to see themselves reflected on Radio-Canada, for example. They need to see their reality from time to time.

It has already been mentioned that the election in the Northwest Territories was overlooked three or four years ago. There was nothing about it on Radio-Canada. And yet a territorial government was elected in the Northwest Territories.

So the role of the media is essential for us to feel connected to the rest of our country.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

All right, thank you.

I'm sorry, Mr. Benskin, but you are out of time.

Mr. Williamson now has the floor.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Before I begin, I have a kind of side point that follows on Mr. Bélanger's comments, I suppose.

I recognize there is a lot of pressure. I hope you won't break this up so that we have two sessions of an hour each. I find when you do that it doesn't give members of this side—and I expect with the official opposition it's the same—time to properly ask questions of an individual we might want to focus on.

I hope you will keep that in mind as you move forward.

Welcome and thank you for being here today.

I have a quite simple question: why are child care services and early childhood services important for you as representatives of minority francophone groups? I would really like to know why these programs are important for you.

I ask the question because there was an election six years ago and there were two ideas on the subject at that time. This may be a simple matter for you, but our government had a program. The former government had promised a program of 15 to 20 years, but it never implemented it because it was defeated. So I would like to know why it's important for you.

10:20 a.m.

Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise

Léo-Paul Provencher

I will make a brief comment, sir. The day care centres make it possible to fill the school and to attract families to the francophone school. Filling the school means retaining families for a longer period of time and guaranteeing greater stability in the community. That's the first factor, but I want to leave my colleagues time to respond because time is limited.

10:20 a.m.

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

Mylène Chartrand

I agree with Mr. Provencher. How long would people with children who have settled in our communities stay if it was impossible for their children to grow up and develop in French? They would not stay very long. So this gives families who settle in our territory access to health services for children, to day care and French-language school. This gives the community some stability, which is important. It creates a stronger community.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

That's definitely the case for the day care centres, but why is it necessary for early childhood? That's the real question. In my opinion, language is something you learn at home. Why are early childhood programs important?

10:20 a.m.

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

Mylène Chartrand

They're important because there are a lot of exogamous unions in the north. When one partner speaks English, it is important for the child to have the tools to grow up and have an education in French.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Thank you.

10:20 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

Gaël Corbineau

Personally, I believe that early childhood is really the foundation of our francophone communities. All of us here live in regions where the vast majority is anglophone. In spite of all our efforts, our children do not necessarily have a lot of opportunities to develop in French outside the school system. This is an important factor in giving them this foundation of their francophone culture and identity, which they will be able to retain later on. These young people start out in English from a very early age, English is not a problem for them, but it will be much more difficult for them to rise to the same level in French later on.

This is readily apparent in the French-language primary schools. It is very easy to determine which students have grown up in a francophone system. They already speak perfect French and, in many cases, English as well. Children who have not spent a lot of time in that kind of system have enormous problems. They are years behind from an educational standpoint, since they have a very poor, even non-existent base in French.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

That's very good.

At what age do early childhood programs start?

10:20 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

Gaël Corbineau

Today, our services start at the age of two. Ideally they should start at birth. As a result of the way society is evolving, mothers want to resume their professional careers as soon as possible.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

What is the role of the parents?

10:20 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

Gaël Corbineau

You're right; parents have a major role to play in education. They have to speak the language as much as possible, particularly when they live in a majority anglophone environment. They must not forget to speak the language. Our organizations are working on this kind of awareness.

In addition, as my neighbour mentioned earlier, there are a lot of exogamous couples. So English is always very much present, in the family, with the parents and the grandparents. English is really very much present.