Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House, even though it is late, because it is never too late to do our jobs as MPs properly. We are here to represent the people of our ridings. My constituents in Drummond expect me to work hard to represent them. That is why I am here at almost midnight. I will continue to ask questions regarding the Liberal government's obligation to comply with the Official Languages Act.
Today, we had the opportunity to hear from the Minister of Immigration when he appeared before the Standing Committee on Official Languages for the first time. Unfortunately, I did not have time to ask him whether anything has been done to follow up on the matter of language testing, which is not as accessible in French as it is in English. Of course, I am talking about the language proficiency assessment associated with applications for permanent residency in Canada.
As part of their application for permanent residency, people need to submit an assessment of their language proficiency, which is fine. However, the French tests are not very accessible and sometimes cost up to twice as much as the English tests. Some people noticed that and asked about it. For example, people in Toronto hoping to pass a language test to become permanent residents noticed that they would have to wait a lot longer to get the results of the French test than the English one, and that taking the French test would cost twice as much, so they decided to take the test in English.
It is obvious that people do not have equal access to this test in both languages. Some people complained, and I brought those complaints to the attention of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, which found that they were justified and decided to accept them. An evaluation was then conducted and the commissioner asked that improvements be made.
The result is that, right now, people applying for permanent residency are getting no assistance. An evaluation has been conducted, but no real action has been taken to remedy the situation.
To summarize, I will read some excerpts from a letter that I wrote to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. It reads:
My complaint was about how the French test costs more and is less accessible than the English test, which means that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is not complying with some of its obligations under parts IV and VII of the Official Languages Act.
Further on, I added:
The [Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages] wrote that “IRCC has not taken any measures to offset these obstacles, which could have negative consequences for the intake of francophone immigrants in [official language minority communities], and ultimately for the vitality of those communities.”
This is very serious. We are not currently meeting the francophone immigration target in official language minority communities, which is 4%. In fact, we are way off. The most reliable data put us at about 1.4%, whereas the target is 4%.
If we do not meet that target, the proportion of francophone minority communities will decline compared to anglophone communities. That will be bad for their vitality and their access to services. It is a vicious circle turning in the wrong direction. I would like some answers about this.