Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for having me again.
As the chair pointed out, I am accompanied by Hubert Lussier, assistant deputy minister for Citizenship, Heritage and Regions, and Jean-Pierre C. Gauthier, director general of official languages.
First, I would like to thank this committee for its work on issues that are important to Canadians and to our government.
You have invited me here today to talk about the Annual Report on Official Languages 2015-2016.
This report presents Canadian Heritage's achievements through its official language support programs.
As you know, Canadian Heritage administers two major official language support programs. One is designed to support the development of official language minority communities. Among other things, this program helps us support the provinces and territories providing government services to official language minority communities in areas such as education, culture, justice, and health. The other focuses on promoting the use of English and French in Canadian society.
The report includes the efforts made by 72 federal institutions to support the development of official-language minority communities and promote both languages in Canadian society.
It also evaluates the third year of implementation of the roadmap for Canada's official languages, which expires on March 31, 2018. At the time the report was submitted, 96% of the expenses forecast for 2015-2016 had been disbursed.
The next annual report on official languages, for 2016-2017, is in production. It will include all the work accomplished during the consultations held in 2016. For me, this work was crucial. It was the first step toward developing a new action plan for official languages.
I will say more about the action plan in a moment, but I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the latest Statistics Canada data on official languages.
The data released in August show an up-to-date portrait of our two official languages. It is clear that they remain an important tool for unity and inclusion in an increasingly diversified society.
Even so, we can do better. We must continue our efforts. The data highlighted how important it is for our government to continue to promote official languages and official language minority communities.
Let's take a look at what is happening in the communities.
The absolute number of francophones living in French-speaking minority communities has increased. Francophone communities are growing especially rapidly in the three territories. What that means is that more and more Canadians whose mother tongue is French are living in minority communities—Canadians who contribute daily to our country's development, diversity and excellence.
Overall, however, the relative proportion of francophones is declining: it has dwindled from 4% in 2011 to 3.8% in 2016. In light of this, the government's support is crucial.
What about linguistic duality? As you know, never before has Canada had so many bilingual citizens: 6.2 million people. However, the situation varies widely from region to region. Francophones are highly bilingual, at 89% outside Quebec and 41.5% within Quebec. Anglophones in Quebec are also highly bilingual, at 66%. However, only 6.6% of anglophones outside Quebec are bilingual.
There is potential for major progress here. Immersion classes are gaining in popularity across the country, and Canadians have frequently told us how attached they are to their two official languages.
Our government has taken note of these data and intends to fulfill its official-languages obligations.
In fact, we have already taken action on several files. One of the examples is the new bilingualism criterion in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court. Another example is the new multilateral early learning and child care framework. There was also the announcement that our government will review the Official Languages Regulations. We should also mention the reinstatement and modernization of the court challenges program. Another example is the establishment of the Mobilité francophone component of the international mobility program and the expansion of the express entry system. Of course, that has to do with immigration. I would also like to remind you of the funding under Budget 2017 that included: additional funding of $2.24 million for the young Canada works in both official languages program; $80 million over 10 years for the construction of community educational infrastructure in official-language minority communities; $7.5 million per year ongoing to improve parliamentary translation services; and $2 million over two years to improve the ability of federal courts to make decisions available in French and in English. Those are all files on which we have taken action, and the list goes on.
The current roadmap will end on March 31. We will be ready to continue the initiative with a new action plan.
I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to make an important point. The investments linked to the roadmap are now permanent. That is, the project presented in the roadmap will extend beyond March 31, 2018. The new action plan, which will be in place on April 1, 2018, will build on investments made over the last 15 years. I look forward to announcing that, once the plan is ready. In the meantime, I can assure you that we are working very hard to meet Canadians' expectations.
Thank you for your attention.
I would now be happy to answer your questions.