Evidence of meeting #73 for Official Languages in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was questions.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Yvan Déry  Senior Director, Policy and Research, Official Languages Branch, Department of Canadian Heritage
Johanne Denis  Director General, Census Subject Matter, Social and Demographic Statistics, Statistics Canada
Jean-Pierre Corbeil  Assistant Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division, Statistics Canada
Pierre Foucher  Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

3:50 p.m.

Assistant Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division, Statistics Canada

Jean-Pierre Corbeil

Yes, as well as from the departments of Education of each province.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Fine. Thank you.

I am going to sleep better tonight if you give me the answer I am looking for.

May I conclude that at least one member of the working group will be a representative of the Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones, which works mostly in minority environments?

May we be certain that there will be at least one?

Those people are the first users.

3:50 p.m.

Assistant Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division, Statistics Canada

Jean-Pierre Corbeil

We can't answer you, but we are considering that possibility. That said, we can't wind up with 20 members, that's clear. We are currently deciding on the composition of the committee. Several people have not yet received an invitation, since we must find a balance and take into account all of the regions of Canada. We want the committee to inform Statistics Canada not only on the issue of rights-holders, but also, as my colleague said, on language statistics in general. There are several other issues involving language. Of course, we are going to take this remark and suggestion into consideration.

Someone will undoubtedly tell me who to invite. Several people will ask why they were not invited, and why we invited someone from the east rather than from the west of Canada, and so on. We have to take all of that into consideration. I can assure you that we are going to take into account...

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Mr. Corbeil, forgive me for interrupting you.

Mr. Chair, I would simply like to say that the first users, the primary users and educators are the ones who should sit on this working group. If I still know my math, one plus one equals two.

Thank you.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

I will now give the floor to Mr. Choquette.

3:50 p.m.

Director General, Census Subject Matter, Social and Demographic Statistics, Statistics Canada

Johanne Denis

Mr. Chair, may I answer Mr. Samson's other question?

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

You have a few seconds to do that.

3:50 p.m.

Director General, Census Subject Matter, Social and Demographic Statistics, Statistics Canada

Johanne Denis

I like Mr. Samson's questions very much.

We work hard and we want things to work. The committee in question will help us to formulate questions to work together constructively and to find some way of getting there. One of the things that help us a lot in our modern digital world are the electronic questionnaires. In fact, an electronic questionnaire allows us to make automatic selections, which really allows us to target the populations of interest. We really hope to be able to use an electronic questionnaire, and current technology.

We no longer distribute paper questionnaires to the entire population as we used to do before. The last time, we obtained a 70% answer rate via the Internet. That is a tool we can use to great advantage in preparing questions.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

We have to beef up the data. Bravo! That is good.

3:55 p.m.

Director General, Census Subject Matter, Social and Demographic Statistics, Statistics Canada

Johanne Denis

We think this is very positive and will give us additional tools.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Mr. Choquette, you have the floor.

October 3rd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Chair, I am entirely in agreement with my colleague Mr. Samson; I too would like to sleep soundly, but I am very worried.

Unfortunately, there is no one here representing Minister Navdeep Bains to whom I would have liked to put the question. Since I cannot address a representative of the minister, I will turn to Mr. Déry from Canadian Heritage.

Recommendation 4 of the report, which was accepted unanimously and was endorsed by all of the experts who testified before the committee, reads as follows:

That the Government of Canada require Statistics Canada to include questions in the 2021 Census that would allow for the enumeration of all rights-holders under the broadest interpretation of paragraphs 23(1)(a) and (b) and subsection 23(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The use of the word “require” makes things quite clear.

Why did Heritage Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the department of Mr. Bains, not accept that recommendation?

3:55 p.m.

Senior Director, Policy and Research, Official Languages Branch, Department of Canadian Heritage

Yvan Déry

I do not think I can answer on behalf of Mr. Bains and his department, but as my Statistics Canada colleagues may confirm—and they have already done so—the process to prepare census questions was established a long time ago. There are consultations and tests. Afterwards, Statistics Canada, whose expertise is recognized, formulates a recommendation. It will then be approved or rejected, but the final determination is made by the Council of Ministers.

The government response indicates that Statistics Canada was asked to examine the best ways of enumerating all of the categories of rights-holders. Statistics Canada must examine the best questions and best means of doing that for the 2021 census. That is the beginning of the process Ms. Denis referred to. Statistics Canada will create this working group and test the questions.

The government's position is the following: we just asked Statistics Canada to include the best possible questions in its work to enumerate the rights-holders. Neither I nor the people from Statistics Canada can say today what the result of that process will be, but it is our way of tracking the results you expect.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Unfortunately, that is a way of not moving forward with recommendation 4, which asked the government to mandate Statistics Canada. I understand that Statistics Canada wants to look at all possible options aside from the census to count the rights-holders.

As our committee has taken pains to specify, only enumeration can allow us to adequately count the rights-holders. Unfortunately, you did not go that far. We certainly are worried. We hope that this will produce the same result in the end, but we would have liked it to be clear in your answer. That said, I still have hope. We will see what the outcome will be.

I want to speak on behalf of all of the official language organizations who, upon looking at that answer, really wonder what the result will be. We aren't certain that the census is going to provide the results we would like.

That was the first thing I wanted to speak to you about.

Ms. Denis and Mr. Corbeil, I will now move to another topic, your advisory committee. I don't know if you received all of the recommendations of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, the FCFA, or of the Quebec Community Groups Network, the QCGN, in this regard. We received a letter from the Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta, the ACFA, telling us that they would like this or that person to sit on that advisory committee.

Did you consult the QCGN and the FCFA to see who the best people would be to sit on that committee?

4 p.m.

Assistant Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division, Statistics Canada

Jean-Pierre Corbeil

My colleague Ms. Denis mentioned to you that we are going to have a meeting on October 11 with the upper management of the FCFA. One of the objectives of that meeting is precisely to discuss that. We held talks on this with the members of the QCGN, and we will have others.

We also received requests from the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities, which is an important organization.

Without giving you the names of the organizations or members of this committee, I can assure you that we are taking all of this into account. In our discussions with the representatives of the FCFA and of the QCGN, we will ensure that the best persons are around the table.

4 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

That answer is in keeping with the requests from the groups. That's very interesting.

I would like to go back to the mistake, the blunder or electronic problem—I don't know what to call it—in connection with the census. How is it that experts from anglophone communities, among others, had to sound the alarm for you to realize that there was a mistake in the results of the census? That is quite serious.

4 p.m.

Assistant Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division, Statistics Canada

Jean-Pierre Corbeil

All I can say is that the meeting of October 17 or 19 will focus on that topic.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

That is what we had agreed upon, Mr. Choquette. We can go back to that topic during another meeting.

4 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Fine.

I'm done, Mr. Chair.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

In any case, your speaking time is up.

Mr. Vandal, you have the floor.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

No, it's my turn.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

No problem.

Ms. Lapointe, you have the floor.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thank the witnesses for being here.

Mr. Corbeil, I am following up on my colleague's question. You will have a formal meeting with the FCFA on October 11, and you said you had spoken with the QCGN. Have you had formal meetings with that organization to find out about the situation in Quebec?

4 p.m.

Assistant Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division, Statistics Canada

Jean-Pierre Corbeil

All I can tell you is that we will soon be meeting with the director of research and policy at QCGN, and one of the topics of discussion will be precisely that.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Are you keeping to the timeframe? You said there will be a meeting on October 11, and that in November there will be a meeting of another working group.