I need a preamble in order to describe the situation on the ground.
In a word, that information was not available from the census. As a result, 187 offices providing bilingual services were going to be closed, but a moratorium was issued. That was a good thing. Then, the government announced that it was going to amend the official languages regulations. Not only did it decide to keep the 187 offices, but it also announced that 600 offices, newly designated as bilingual, would provide services across Canada. That is incredible!
The other day, I sent a note encouraging the establishment of French schools across Canada. I mentioned that, in every place with French-language schools, there would be bilingual services. That is powerful, it is incredible. As regards immigration, we have been trying for 10 years to get past 4% in francophone immigrants, but the figure is stuck at 2%. The reason was simple: no investments to encourage francophone immigration.
In that regard, let me read the announcement you made to the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne when you were in Toronto with Minister Hussen. It reads as follows:
This is a major advance on two levels. First, because it is a solution for a situation where francophone immigrants arriving at the country's largest airport are not even informed of the existence of French-language services and communities.
Things have changed overnight. In addition, requests for proposals go specifically to francophone organizations. The concept of “by” and ”for” francophones is being applied. This is another incredibly important file, albeit a forgotten one. It was also one of the cuts that weakened francophones.
Today, we are in the process of re-establishing the situation and we must work together to do so. I thank you for the work that you are doing in that regard. My question is about federal-provincial agreements. We understand the issue of jurisdictions, but it is no longer a matter of wondering what is going to be done for francophones. As each project, program or initiative starts, it must be taken for granted that there are two communities and we must ask ourselves what impact the initiative will have on each of them. Then the initiative has to be developed as a result of that impact. That is the way we have to proceed. We have to back up if we want real success.
We met with Minister Duclos on early childhood. For children, that stage of life is critical. If we are unsuccessful in including them when they come into the world, we will always be unsuccessful. That is one of the most important objectives. Mr. Duclos managed to insert a language clause. Some people say that it could be a little more substantial, but let's say that it's a good place to start.
In addition, Madam Minister, for francophones, you have added—