Thank you very much.
My name is Geoffrey Chambers, and I am the president of the Quebec Community Groups Network. With me today is Sylvia Martin-Laforge, our director general. Both of us will be delivering the presentation.
Good afternoon, Mr. Dubourg, Mr. d'Entremont, Mr. Beaulieu and all the other committee members.
It's very good to be back. We are pleased with the level of official language expertise and experience represented on this committee and with the geographical balance the parties have achieved in ensuring representation from Canada's English and French linguistic minority communities, which has not in the past always been the case.
Congratulations for coming together with such a formidable group.
For those new to the committee, please indulge me as I make some introductory remarks and a presentation of our background. Founded in 1995, the Quebec Community Groups Network, QCGN, is a not-for-profit organization linking more than 50 organizations across Quebec. As a centre of evidence-based expertise and collective action, the QCGN identifies, explores and addresses strategic issues affecting the development and vitality of the English-speaking community of Quebec, and it encourages dialogue and collaboration amongst its member organizations, individuals and community groups, institutions and leaders.
Canada's English linguistic minority communities exist entirely within Quebec, the only province with a francophone majority. In 2016, the official languages minority in Quebec numbered a little more than 1.1 million citizens, making up 13.7% of the province's population. For reasons that we can get into during questions, if you like, the size of our community is based on the number of citizens in Quebec whose first official language spoken, or FOLS, is English. These numbers are calculated and published by Statistics Canada.
The collective term we use to refer to our community is the English-speaking community of Quebec. We refer to individual members of our community as English-speaking Quebeckers. The term “anglophone” has a specific connotation in Quebec. It refers to individuals whose mother tongue is English and excludes allophones, people whose mother tongue is other than English or French, but whose first official language spoken might be English. As a result, we avoid using the term “anglophone” because it excludes or fails to include a very significant portion of our community.
Thank you for your indulgence. I'll now continue with our comments on the matter at hand.
You are aware that schools are the heart of community. This is especially true in minority communities, for which the school is often the only visible and shared community institution. Schools are more than buildings delivering educational services. They are meeting places that bind the community and places where we reinforce our identity with our children. We will have a lot more to say about the importance of our schools during the committee's upcoming study on education. I would like to thank Madame Lambropoulos for making this proposal.
Given the importance of schools to the vitality of linguistic minority communities, it should come as no surprise that the Quebec Community Groups Network fully endorses the enumeration of children of all section 23 rights holders and not just one of the three categories of rights holders. A consensus has emerged amongst minority language school boards, not only in Quebec but throughout Canada, that this data should be collected by Statistics Canada on the short-form census.
More than three years have already passed since I last appeared before this committee giving evidence about the need to enumerate children of all rights holders. The Quebec Community Groups Network was delighted with the leadership demonstrated by the committee in the May 2017 report and in particular with its landmark unanimous recommendations. We understand that the implementation of this committee's recommendations may pose technical challenges for Statistics Canada, as has been explained before this committee and before the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages in the last Parliament.
The Quebec Community Groups Network expects Statistics Canada and this government to rise to the challenge and see to it that the short-form census is used to enumerate children of all rights holders, for it is the only way to collect objective, credible and accurate data that will satisfy the courts' “where numbers warrant” legal test.