Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 4 - Evidence - Meeting of March 3, 2014
OTTAWA, Monday, March 3, 2014
The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages met this day at 4:01 p.m. to continue its study on the impacts of recent changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities; to study best practices for language policies and second-language learning in a context of linguistic duality or plurality; and to study the application of the Official Languages Act and of the regulations and directives made under it, within those institutions subject to the Act.
Senator Andrée Champagne (Deputy Chair) in the chair.
The Deputy Chair: Honourable senators, I now call this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages to order.
I am Senator Andrée Champagne, from Quebec. I am the deputy chair of this committee. Unfortunately, our chair could not be with us here today. Some family-related matters kept her in Alberta. She will be here tomorrow, but I will be chairing today's meeting.
We are continuing our study on the impacts of recent changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities.
We have witnesses this afternoon from the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada. The FCFA is a national not-for-profit organization whose role is to defend and promote the rights and interests of the French-speaking population outside Quebec.
I would like to introduce Marie-France Kenny and Suzanne Bossé. Perhaps the senators would like to take a moment to introduce themselves, beginning on my left.
Senator Oh: Victor Oh, Ontario.
Senator Poirier: Rose-May Poirier, New Brunswick.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis, Quebec.
Senator McIntyre: Paul McIntyre, New Brunswick.
Senator Chaput: Maria Chaput, Manitoba.
Senator Robichaud: Hello. Senator Fernand Robichaud, Saint-Louis-de-Kent, New Brunswick.
The Deputy Chair: I will now turn it over to Ms. Kenny, followed by Ms. Bossé. I am sure the senators will have many questions to ask afterwards.
Marie-France Kenny, President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA): Your clerk has informed me that I do not have a time limit, so I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the message we have been conveying since the issue of Senate reform first came up, as well as the importance of this committee, the Senate in general and the work you all do as senators. As we have said many times in interviews, whenever we appear before this committee, it is clear that this committee really focuses on its work, and not on political quarrels, which is very much appreciated. While some committees in certain areas may be dysfunctional, that is certainly not the case here, and I thank you for that.
Honourable senators, thank you for inviting the FCFA, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne, to give evidence as part of your study of the impacts of recent changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities.
As you just heard, I am Marie-France Kenny, President of the FCFA, and joining me today is our Director General, Suzanne Bossé.
I would like to begin by saying that the issues related to francophone immigration within our communities are numerous and complex. I will therefore spend the few minutes I have giving you a general overview of the situation. We plan to submit a more detailed written brief to the committee by March 31.
The FCFA has long been committed to the issue of francophone immigration. For 14 years now, at the national level, the Fédération has been overseeing efforts by communities to attract, welcome, recruit, integrate and retain French-speaking immigrants. It guides and supports 13 francophone immigration networks, or FINs. From coast to coast to coast, these networks rally around immigrants, their families and the host communities, with the expertise of some 250 active partners in various aspects of reception and integration.
Since 2013, the Fédération has also been overseeing the community coordination of two new national structures, specifically, the National Community Table on Francophone Immigration and the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Francophone Minority Communities Steering Committee, which is co-chaired by CIC and the community. In other words, for the past year and half, we have been paying close attention to the changes to Canada's immigration system. We have noticed the shift towards economic immigration, and we have adapted our practices in many ways as a result. I will come back to this in a moment.
The FCFA readily admits that the changes to the immigration system are creating opportunities for our communities. However, let us be very clear: it is important not to confuse ``opportunity'' and ``impact.'' Going from one to the other requires elements that are not always present at this time.
The first of these opportunities is linked to the fact that, as part of many immigration programs, more points are now given for knowledge of official languages than for any other selection criterion. I would also point out that the Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages includes a funding envelope to provide English and French language training for economic immigrants. However, this envelope will only benefit our communities if the immigrants who settle there have consistent access to language training that meets their specific needs.
The new expression of interest system also caught our attention because it makes it possible to better connect potential immigrants to national and regional labour needs. However, the department must ensure that the mechanism includes some sort of component to make sure that the realities and needs of our communities are recognized.
This is also true for many of the new immigration initiatives that must include additional positive measures targeting French-speaking immigrants and the communities that receive them.
I would like to talk to you about the labour market opinion exemption, a tool that will help facilitate and accelerate the recruitment of skilled workers who will settle in francophone minority communities; this is important to point out. This was also part of the information given to employers during the outreach tours meant to inform them of potential opportunities for recruiting a francophone and bilingual workforce abroad. The FCFA and francophone immigration networks have been coordinating these tours since last year in partnership with Canada's embassies abroad and many other partners. The two tours that took place in 2013 reached approximately 370 employers and other economic stakeholders, both francophone and anglophone.
This is an excellent example of how we are adapting our practices. With regard to these tours, we are adapting our practices because the new immigration system gives employers and provincial and territorial governments a greater role.
Accordingly, our communities must absolutely play an active role in mobilizing and supporting those players, as well as other stakeholders, such as the municipalities, in order to promote francophone immigration.
We are taking the changes to the immigration system into account and adapting many of our practices as a result, but I would like to point out one important concern: while working within this new immigration system, it is our collective responsibility to not lose sight of the importance of immigration to the sustainability of French-language minority communities.
Over the past 14 years, we have mutually agreed on certain objectives and parameters, and we must continue working in harmony with our partners and not at odds with them. Consider, for example, the annual target of at least 4.4 per cent of French-speaking immigrants by 2023, which was jointly established in 2006 by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the communities. The department also announced a new target of 4 per cent French- speaking immigrants by 2018.
Also consider for example the specific challenges related to the reception and integration of French-speaking immigrants who settle in minority communities. While they may be workers and investors, they are also individuals, families, and future citizens who need services in the areas of education, culture and health, which it why it is so important to continue to strengthen and reinforce the capacity of the French-language reception services that have been established in our communities over the past decade.
Before I conclude my presentation and take your questions, I would like to propose four recommendations for the report that results from your study: first, that there be a concerted and coordinated approach on an interdepartmental and intergovernmental basis regarding francophone immigration; second, that francophone minority communities be consulted regarding the changes to the immigration system, including those already in place and those that are still to come, with a view to maintaining an approach designed by and for the communities; third, ensure that the new tools and mechanisms include some specific measures and targeted initiatives for francophone immigration; and lastly, ensure that measures targeted towards immigration within our communities are put in place, including for example access to language training, assessing language skills and recognizing qualifications.
Thank you. I am ready to take your questions.
The Deputy Chair: Ms. Bossé, would you like to address the chamber?
Suzanne Bossé, Director General, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA): No, thank you.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Ms. Kenny, Ms. Bossé, it is always a pleasure to see you before our committee. You have a positive outlook that I very much appreciate, despite all the problems you see across the country.
Last week, our committee heard from two groups representing anglophone communities in Quebec, and we addressed the same topic of immigration in official language minority communities.
We spent quite some time discussing the differences between attracting and retaining newcomers. When it comes to francophone immigration in minority communities across the country, have you seen evidence that it is harder to attract francophone newcomers or do you find it harder to retain them?
Ms. Kenny: That is a good question and, I must say, since I am not on the ground, it is a little hard for me to answer. There are challenges on two levels: the challenge when it comes to attracting immigrants is that we must also make sure there are jobs available. Thus, there is the recruitment process itself in order to connect workers with available jobs. However, we also need to make sure that employers — who are often anglophone in our communities — understand that francophones who settle in our communities often speak both languages and, if not, language training is provided, and therefore there should be no challenges related to language.
It is also important to put mechanisms in place to ensure that employers who recruit abroad know that an entire francophone immigration network exists. Every province and territory has such a network. This means 13 well- established networks that offer comprehensive support to families, including access to jobs for spouses, as well as education and cultural measures. There are often pairing processes, and some provinces even go and meet people at the airport when they first arrive. This kind of support is offered in our communities.
The challenge is, first of all, ensuring that immigrants join our networks, so we direct them towards the francophone networks in the case of employers who recruit abroad. That is why we did an outreach tour with embassies and communities. The FCFA coordinates the francophone immigration networks. They are there to make sure employers know that francophones can help them and that by supporting them, we can attract workers. We make sure that they are supported so that they will stay.
Ms. Bossé: That is an excellent question that is not without its complexities, as is the case with most immigration issues. I think we can talk about attracting immigrants, yes, but that implies promotion. I would say that, in terms of promoting our francophone and Acadian communities as destinations, we still have a lot of work to do. If we look at the interdepartmental component, including the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, that department needs to work much more closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, for example, so that our communities can benefit from successful promotion abroad regarding jobs. A lot of work remains to be done in this area.
As for retention, problems often fall into two categories. Ms. Kenny talked about employers. Anglophone employers in particular are not really familiar with our communities and have clearly asked that our francophone immigration networks, our representative organizations, our organizations on the ground, be able to support immigrants when they arrive, as well as support the employers themselves, because if immigrants arrive in our communities and are not directed towards French-language services, they will leave. Employers are the ones who invest so much effort in recruitment, which is expensive, so they have made it clear to us that they are counting on the communities to support the newcomers in that sense.
Of course, this also presumes that French-language services exist in our communities, and these include education, health care and employment support. These French-language services are becoming increasingly essential. They already were, but in terms of retention, they are absolutely crucial.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I would like to ask another question.
Have you noted any reasons other than legislative or regulatory reasons that might discourage francophone immigration to minority language communities?
In other words, are there any factors discouraging francophone immigration in minority communities about which there is absolutely nothing the government can do?
For instance, if someone from North Africa wanted to immigrate to Canada and he were sent to the Yukon, he would have a hard time; the cold might dishearten him. I am just giving an example; I do not want you to think I am racist for using this example.
Ms. Kenny: The challenge is not so much the climate, because when we do our promoting and recruiting, we warn people; we tell them that in Saskatchewan, where I am from, it is -40º in the winter. I must say, it feels less cold than Ottawa's damp winters, but we tell them in any case. We do not hide anything. We talk to them about the cost of living and the realities in every province and territory, so they can make informed decisions. We tell them that if they are looking for a quality of life or a pace similar to Paris, they should not go to Ponteix, Saskatchewan; they should go to Toronto or Vancouver instead. We have these kinds of discussions with people.
Immigration is governed mainly by the provinces.
Every province has a nominee program, and if the province does not properly support the community to do this promotion and recruitment, it is simply not done. Destination Canada, a Citizenship and Immigration Canada initiative, is definitely a useful tool at the embassy in Paris. We are also going to Brussels and now to Tunisia. We are going as far as Mauritius, except that it is the employers who will no longer have the advantage of communities to support them, which presents a certain challenge. Having participated in Destination Canada myself for the federation a few years ago, after doing the rounds of the employers, I realized that few of them are aware of the assistance and support that immigration networks can provide. That is one of the challenges we had to face, and we had to educate them.
The other problem is the recognition of foreign credentials. If the credentials of people who want to come and settle here are not recognized, that presents a huge challenge in terms of employment. As you know, without a job, integration is difficult.
Those are the two factors, I would say.
Ontario and Manitoba have set targets, but none of the other provinces have any targets for francophone immigration, and there is often little or no means. However, in most provinces, some means are available to support immigration. In fact, immigration was one of the topics discussed at the ministerial conference. The conference was attended by the provincial and territorial ministers responsible for francophone affaires and the Minister of Canadian Heritage. However, this does not mean that all the problems have been solved and they are now welcoming francophone immigration with open arms. They invested in research on immigration, but not opening it up, so to speak.
Senator Chaput: Welcome, ladies. As you know, the committee is currently studying the impacts of recent changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities. You said during your presentation, Madam Chair, that you are paying close attention to the changes made to the immigration system in terms of opportunities and impact. Would you be able to give me a few examples of these changes in terms of opportunities and impact, perhaps the most significant ones? I imagine that some are positive and some are negative. Could you give us some examples?
Ms. Kenny: Anything that has to do with the labour market opinion exemption is positive. At this time, if you want to hire an anglophone immigrant, say in Alberta, you have to do a labour market opinion, so you have to look at the market if there are not already people who can meet those needs. When it comes to francophone immigration, there is an exemption; so, as soon as you find a francophone worker for the job, you are exempt from having to do that research.
It is definitely positive, and it speeds up the process for employers who want to hire francophone immigrants in the provinces and territories outside Quebec. This is most definitely positive, and this is also an argument that we made during the information sessions for employers.
Now, I am not saying that this is negative per se, but some of the mechanisms that still need to be put in place remain a little vague. Regarding the expression of interest, the mechanisms are not yet in place, so we have no information. We, of course, want to work, and we work very well with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. We have a good partnership, but since the tool has not yet been developed, we would like to contribute to developing the tool in order to ensure that there is a francophone perspective and that the needs and realities of our communities are taken into account.
Senator Chaput: What is the definition of ``expression of interest''? What exactly are the tools?
Ms. Bossé: It is a database that helps connect immigration candidates with available jobs. Employers and provincial and territorial governments can use this database to look for skilled workers who meet their labour needs.
Senator Chaput: Has that database already been developed?
Ms. Bossé: It is being developed right now. It will be active in January 2015.
Senator Chaput: Who is responsible for it? Citizenship and Immigration Canada?
Ms. Bossé: Yes.
Senator Chaput: In partnership with the provinces? Or in consultation?
Ms. Bossé: It would be better to ask them directly, because I am not sure, but to my knowledge, they have to work with Employment and Social Development Canada. Some consultations are taking place in some Canadian cities. Employers are being consulted and I imagine that the provincial and territorial governments are also being consulted.
Senator Chaput: Have these changes had any impact on university students from abroad, either in terms of recruitment or acceptance? Have you heard anything about a more elaborate or more complicated process?
Ms. Kenny: Not more elaborate or complicated. I would say that each province and territory has changed some of the rules over the years, after realizing that many young people who come here to study tend to stay.
Senator Chaput: Yes.
Ms. Kenny: They have been offered opportunities that they did not have in the past, such as having them work either on or off campus so that they could gain some experience and to allow them to accumulate more points for their application.
One of the things we have noticed about international students, and I even talked about this recently at the Canadian embassy in Senegal, is that countries in southern Africa have not been targeted. Some countries have been targeted, but not all. This does not mean, however, that work is not being done in that regard. I was in Senegal last month to attend meetings with the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, and I was told that a big group of representatives from francophone universities and community colleges from our communities had just been through and they were on their way to Côte d'Ivoire after that. Those countries have not been targeted as priorities; however, some work remains to be done in that regard.
Senator Robichaud: You said an exemption exists for certain immigrants, that employers do not have to verify whether there really is a job for that individual; is that right?
Ms. Kenny: It is the opposite. Let us say I have a translation business and I am looking for a translator. At this time, I have to confirm whether there are any translators available in my region. However, for francophone immigration, in the exact same situation, I would not have to do that verification if I found a francophone translator from abroad. We no longer need to verify if there are other translators available in the region. Priority will be given to that translator, because he is francophone.
So, when it comes to francophones outside Quebec, you do not need to do that research. It is a study to determine if there are people currently available who could fill that position.
Senator McIntyre: Thank you both for your presentations. I see that your federation was founded in 1975.
It is a not-for-profit organization comprising 21 member organizations, representing nine provinces and the three territories, as well as nine national organizations with member association status. Congratulations on the excellent work you do.
That said, I would like to ask you about the issue of language-related amendments regarding the selection of immigrants. Over the past few years, the federal government has announced several changes regarding the selection of immigrants — changes that are financial in nature, language related and general changes.
Regarding the language-related changes, I see that the government is placing greater emphasis on proficiency in at least one of the two official languages and at a more accelerated pace. Bill C-24, introduced in the House of Commons in February 2014 and currently at first reading in the House, is a bill to amend the Citizenship Act.
I read recently that the bill includes two amendments. Regarding the first amendment, the bill proposes that citizenship applicants be required to demonstrate their knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship in one of the two official languages. As for the second amendment, the bill proposes requiring all applicants aged 14 to 64 to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of one of Canada's official languages. As you know, that requirement now applies to people aged 18 to 54 who wish to obtain citizenship.
What do you think of the changes the government has made regarding language testing in the selection of immigrants? Do you think those changes are good for our francophone and Acadian minority communities?
Ms. Kenny: That is a very good point; applicants do have to demonstrate knowledge of one of Canada's official languages. More points are not given for one language over the other; it is truly equal. Of course, if applicants speak both, that is even better. Access to language training is one of the challenges. The Roadmap allocates, I think, either $121 million or $126 million to language training in the area of immigration.
We know that francophone newcomers will need English training in the provinces, because they will have to go to the bank and get their groceries and so on in English. However, we also know that we need to make sure that French training is offered consistently, whether it be for anglophones or people who do not already speak French, because if not, this money will not benefit all of our communities. If we have to provide language training and if we really want it to benefit francophone and Acadian minority communities, we must ensure that this training is given through existing institutions, for both English and French training. However, one thing is certain: with this change, if someone speaks only French and wants to go to Alberta or British Columbia, that individual will have the same number of points as an anglophone who wants to go to Alberta or British Columbia.
Senator McIntyre: I would like to ask a second question. I would like to talk about the issue of the provincial strategy on francophone immigration. I understand that some provinces have already developed their own strategy on this. I also understand that Manitoba and, more recently, Ontario have set targets of 7 per cent and 5 per cent respectively, for francophone immigration. I also understand that New Brunswick, my home province, is currently working on developing its own strategy in that regard, but that the other provinces and territories have none. I also note that in November 2012, if I am not mistaken, your association criticized that fact. Have there been any changes since then, since November 2012?
Ms. Kenny: No, there have been no changes. Some of the other provinces and territories have developed strategies, but no one else has set any targets. There is no national strategy, either. The federal government can set its own targets, which is most commendable and that is what we want, but when provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan or Prince Edward Island do not have any targets and we know that the first entry point is the nominee program in the provinces and territories, it is not easy.
Some provinces are fairly open. To be frank, some provinces are more open than others, but one of the challenges we face is the fact that there is no national, intergovernmental strategy or a strategy developed by all of the provincial and territorial governments.
Senator Poirier: Thank you for your presentation. I have a few questions for you. I imagine that many of the challenges that arise across Canada are similar. However, there must be some areas or some communities where, when it comes to immigration and recruiting and retaining immigrants, some communities or provinces are more successful than others and, basically, play a leadership role in this area. Can you talk to us about what they are doing differently?
Ms. Kenny: It is difficult, because each immigration network responds to the needs of its own community. The situation is different in each province and territory. Earlier we were talking about the Northwest Territories. The Northwest Territories and the Yukon are jurisdictions that manage to attract immigrants because of their natural beauty; many people want to experience the natural environment. Manitoba has been very successful ever since its immigration program was first introduced. However, more and more provinces, like Saskatchewan, have stood out because they realize that they cannot go to just Paris, because, as I am sure we all agree, Paris is not exactly Saskatchewan. They have decided to go to other places and have created partnerships with regions like Mauritius. Every province or territory is enjoying its own version of success. New Brunswick has a ministry, or a program within a ministry, that is dedicated entirely to francophone immigration, and this definitely has an impact. Officials go as far as Romania and all over the place. Some other provinces have one or two people, sometimes working part time, on immigration within their provincial and territorial ministries. To be sure, this is not nearly as effective as what New Brunswick is doing. Ontario is also working very hard when it comes to the francophone aspect within the ministry responsible for immigration. It also depends on how willing provincial governments are to work with their communities. While some areas are facing challenges, I can assure you that the vast majority are making progress. Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan are doing well. The Yukon is successfully recruiting a good percentage of immigrants, specifically thanks to its large, vast territory and its natural beauty. The same is true for the Northwest Territories.
Senator Poirier: Over the past few years, considering the number of immigrants coming to Canada and the number of migrants in Canada who travel from place to place, where would you say the most movement is happening?
Ms. Kenny: In terms of immigration or migration? Because we see both, particularly in the West, for instance in Fort McMurray. There is also Saskatchewan; indeed, Saskatchewan is experiencing an economic boom. I flew to Edmonton last fall, and let me tell you, two-thirds of the passengers on the plane were francophones who were leaving on a Montreal-Edmonton flight. When I flew back home, it was the same thing. This migration of workers to Western Canada is a real phenomenon, since there is such an economic boom happening more and more in provinces like Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We can see and hear this on the planes.
This phenomenon is happening in Western provinces, in Ontario, certainly, and quite a bit in Alberta — not just migration, but immigration.
Senator Poirier: I am sure that the job creation that has happened in that part of the country is attracting francophones from Eastern Canada, including Quebec, who are migrating to that region. This will definitely have an impact in the future as well.
Ms. Bossé: I would like to add that one of the current challenges related to migration is that we have a lot of temporary workers and international students in our communities, and it is important to remember that these people do not have access to all the settlement services. Certain categories do have access, but not all. One very positive thing for us now is that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration is currently exploring the possibility of opening up access to these services. A big national conference called Vision 2020 was held last November to explore why it is important to open up access to these services and how to do so. For years now, our organization has been pushing for temporary workers and temporary immigrants in all categories to be given access to these services, because that is another way to retain them, and it is easier to retain them than to recruit them.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Thank you for being here, ladies. This discussion is extremely important and vital to the future of our francophone communities. Ms. Kenny, you talked about the boom. This reminds me of the development in Northern Ontario, since my parents and grandparents often talked about the boom that happened there at the beginning of the 20th century, which is when all the migrants from Quebec really started settling in Northern Ontario and founded a very vibrant francophone community, as it remains to this today, precisely as a result of that boom, due to the natural resource development in forestry and mining. I think it remains important today to examine these economic booms.
Based on your studies, what industries in Canada are recruiting the most immigrants possible to fill the jobs available in the 9 provinces, or even in the 10 provinces and the territories? I did not see that information and I was wondering if you have access to it.
Ms. Kenny: I can tell you that when we accompany employers to job fairs like Destination Canada, it is the trades that are in demand: welders, plumbers, mechanics, electricians, and so on. As for other jobs, there are of course professionals, in areas like management, computer science, accounting, and so on. Our communities, our daycare centres and schools also need teachers, French-speaking educators, and we cannot seem to find enough, so, to be sure, we have to look to immigration.
At one of the daycare centres near my house, out of about 20 educators, all but three are immigrants.
Senator Charette-Poulin: You predicted my second question. You talked about the recognition of credentials, and as we know, if my memory serves correctly, the recognition of credentials requires collaboration with professional associations, whether in health care, the legal field, engineering, accounting, computer science, education — basically in all sectors.
Do you get the sense that any progress has been made over the past 25 years when it comes to recognizing credentials? Second, are there any government programs to help people fulfill the requirements, for instance, if a francophone wants to go and work in Sudbury as a structural engineer? Are there any government programs to facilitate that process?
Ms. Kenny: To my knowledge, frankly, I cannot really think of many. There are some programs aimed at upgrading certain elements, but not to bring the person completely up to the same level. Suzanne can certainly tell you more about this.
Ms. Bossé: The Department of Employment and Social Development, formerly HRSDC, has invested quite a bit of time and effort working with the provincial and territorial governments and with professional associations. Among other things, that department also supported the Consortium national de formation en santé to ensure that the forms and questionnaires are translated into French, so that candidates for positions in our hospitals and health care centres can apply properly, because they were unable to do so in English. There are some programs, but very, very few. That program, however, worked very well.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Has there been any progress over the past 25 years?
Ms. Bossé: Professional associations are just as hard to access in our communities as in Quebec. That is always a huge challenge. To be sure, our interventions are directed more at Employment and Social Development Canada so that the targeted professions can also respond to the needs in our communities, particularly, in education and health care, for example. That is very important.
Other programs can also contribute to this, such as Industry Canada programs in the regional economic development agencies, which can support groups of women immigrants, for example, that are joining forces and creating a cooperative in Nova Scotia. That is one example.
As another example, Manitoba has a huge need for francophone professional daycare centres. Recognizing that need, some organizations joined forces at the University of Manitoba to create a training program directed at professionals who work in daycare centres. In other words, it is more on an ad hoc basis, rather than anything systematic, depending on the needs recognized in each province and territory.
Senator Robichaud: Regarding the reception given by Canadian communities, what kind of cooperation do you get when it comes to the integration process for people who are immigrating?
Ms. Kenny: First of all, when we know that someone is coming to our community, of course we establish the initial contact before the person even arrives. If the person is recruited as part of Destination Canada, for instance, we know he or she is coming, so we exchange our contact information. Often, in some provinces, as I was saying, I have even gone to the airport myself to greet people. There is all kinds of support to help them find a place to live. Sometimes they will stay with people in the community while they are looking. They will be paired with a family similar to their own — a family with children, for example, if they have children — for this extra support. We will try to find a job for the spouse, help register the children for school, and so on. There is also the whole cultural aspect. This support continues for several months. It's not like ``we will greet you, help you find housing and then goodbye.'' We will encourage them to be active in the community and help them meet other people in the community. As soon as the children go to school, they usually find a network, among the children, other parents, and so on. So, they have quite a bit of support when we know they are here.
Ms. Bossé: Yes, indeed, reception and settlement services exist in our communities. However, they really need to be enhanced. We have been investing in immigration issues only since the early 2000s. It is a rather recent file for us. It is also important to emphasize the ``by and for'': by our communities, for our communities, in the sense that it is very important that the Canadian government's investments and the provincial and territorial governments' investments are directed to our organizations, our reception and settlement centres, rather than to hire someone bilingual at a reception centre that already exists for our anglophone colleagues. Enhancing these reception and settlement centres will definitely be one of our priorities in the coming months. It is one thing to recruit immigrants, but receiving them is quite another thing — ensuring that they are properly integrated socially and economically, and that they will stay in our communities. Some collaboration takes place when immigrants arrive in some of our communities, where anglophone reception centres will direct francophone immigrants to our centre. However, even that does not happen enough and not systematically. We have some work to do to ensure that our communities are informed when immigrants are arriving, and to ensure that we can welcome and support them properly.
Ms. Kenny: We were talking about temporary workers earlier. Temporary workers do not have access to all these services because they are not funded by the government. These workers already have some work experience, but they do not have access to English language training to improve their English skills, and they cannot access the whole range of services until they are residents. Before that happens, they are often directed to anglophone organizations to obtain those services, and then we lose them. If I could make one recommendation, temporary workers should be integrated and should be given access to these services. This would help considerably.
Senator Robichaud: You are talking about a whole other category of immigrants, am I right?
Ms. Kenny: Actually, no. They come here to work. We are recruiting them for jobs. We refer to them as ``temporary workers,'' but often, after six months, we want them to stay. The immigration process begins and, by the time it is complete, they have gone to the anglophone majority for support services. They will have attended an English institution to improve their English and, in terms of social integration, they will have built an anglophone social network and francophone communities lose track of them. They come here as part of the immigration program or they are recruited, yet we are unable to offer them services once they get here.
Senator Oh: Thank you, Ms. Kenny and Suzanne Bossé. Today, I think I'm speaking as a minority on minorities.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada provides funding for the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program. Do you have any comments to make regarding the language program for immigrants — the access to them or the effectiveness?
Ms. Kenny: There's $121 million in the new Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages. In that $121 million is language training, whether in English or French. It won't be of benefit to our communities unless it's systematically offered to any immigrant, whether they speak French or English. We've seen in British Columbia, for example, that a large number of immersion students and a large number of students in private French schools are Asian. So they come to British Columbia. They realize this is a bilingual country where we value linguistic duality, so they decide to learn both official languages. Unless we offer French training to English-speaking immigrants, and unless we offer English training to better our francophones' language skills, then it won't be of value. The other thing is making sure that this language training is offered through our programs. We have institutions. We have colleges. We have post-secondary education, university, adult education, ongoing education. We have institutions and programs in our French communities, and they actually teach English as well in our French communities. So we want this language training to be given through our institutions.
Senator Oh: Do you believe that the first generation normally has a more difficult time? Canada was built not just on the first generation, but the second generation also plays an important role.
Ms. Kenny: Absolutely.
Senator Oh: My dad can only use normal conversation, but I think the second generation contributes a lot more to the country.
Ms. Kenny: Absolutely.
The Deputy Chair: Before we end this part of our meeting, I would like to make a quick comment, if I may.
I must say, Ms. Kenny, that when I saw last week's press release about the information sessions being held by the FCFA in a dozen cities across Ontario, my first reaction was lukewarm. You have changed that. I thought that the FCFA was working independently of Immigration Canada and that there was no link between the two. However, you have explained that there is a link, which I think is very important.
If both organizations are working on this, why not work together and make it easier to welcome, recruit and retain newcomers, especially once they have arrived and we are helping them learn one or both official languages? We want them to spend their lives here.
I would like to thank you very much for being here today. I am likely not the only one who learned something about how this works. That is very positive. We will continue to discuss, as we have for a number of years.
I would like to apologize to my colleagues. We have only two minutes left, and we have another meeting after this one.
Ms. Kenny and Ms. Bossé, thank you very much. Senators, thank you for asking such interesting questions. I would like to suspend the sitting for a few minutes.
Honorable senators, during the second part of our meeting, we will be hearing from the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, who has tabled her annual report in Parliament. It is a two-volume report on matters relating to the official languages mandate.
The 2010-11 annual report was tabled in the Senate and the House of Commons in August 2012, and the 2011-12 annual report was tabled on November 8, 2013.
We are very pleased to welcome the minister, the Honourable Shelly Glover, to discuss her report and two other studies that the committee began this session.
She is accompanied by Hubert Lussier, Assistant Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Heritage, as well as Jean- Pierre C. Gauthier, Director General of the Official Languages Branch.
Ms. Glover, you have the floor. I am sure that senators will have many questions afterwards. Go ahead.
Hon. Shelly Glover, P.C., M.P., Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages: Thank you, senators. To begin, I would like to tell you just how pleased I am to be here with you today. I say that because I never, and I mean never, thought that this little anglophone from Saint-Boniface — who attended French immersion — would one day be Minister of Official Languages. It is a great honour and means a great deal to me. I am here to help you and to help with the work that the Prime Minister entrusted me to do. Without further delay, I will share my speech.
Thank you for having me here for the first time as the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. With me today from the Department of Canadian Heritage are Hubert Lussier, Assistant Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Heritage, and Jean-Pierre C. Gauthier, the Director General of the Official Languages Branch.
The vitality of our national languages is dear to me not only as the minister, but also as the Member of Parliament for Saint Boniface. I have had the honour of representing this dynamic francophone and francophile community for nearly six years in Ottawa.
Our national languages are definitely an asset for our country, which is why our government has maintained its support for them in the budget tabled on March 21, 2013. One week later, we introduced the Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018, which announced $1.1 billion over five years. It is important to note that all roadmap initiatives will be funded on a continuous basis.
As you know, we conducted an extensive consultation before renewing the roadmap. We visited some 20 cities and people voiced their opinions online. The comments we gathered enabled us to target three priorities: education, immigration and communities.
Let us first look at immigration. This is a key issue when we are discussing the development of minority communities. Every year, 250,000 immigrants arrive in Canada, the vast majority of them with neither English nor French as their mother tongue. Our immigrants are integrated into our society in part through official languages. Even though 20 per cent of Canadians have another mother tongue, more than 98 per cent of our population speaks either English or French, or both. There is no doubt about it, our official languages are a tool for integration and cohesion in our society. This is why our government invests in language training for newcomers. We also strive to integrate immigrants into francophone minority communities.
My colleague the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration may talk more to you about the impact that changes in the immigration system have on official-language communities.
Education is another pillar of the roadmap. Our government supports minority-language education jointly with the provinces and territories. It helps more than 240,000 students from minority communities go to school in their own language.
We also continue to provide support for second language instruction. No fewer than 2.4 million young people learn either English or French as a second language, more than 340,000 of them in immersion.
I learned French in school in immersion, and French has enabled me to participate in life in my community, to advance in my career and especially to have a better understanding of my country and the people who live here.
I would like to thank your committee for the study it conducted on best practises for second-language learning. My appearance today allows me to explain the actions that Canadian Heritage is taking in this area.
Bilingualism is a major advantage in the job market. Knowing English and French opens us up to another culture and expands our horizons. Many Canadians understand this, so it is no surprise that enrollment in immersion schools has jumped 12 per cent in recent years. Intensive French classes are now being taught across the country. In New Brunswick's school system, this type of instruction is widespread. New intensive teaching measures are also being planned in other provinces.
Over the past five years, we have also supported pilot projects to measure students' second language skills. These projects have motivated the students. By understanding where they were in terms of their knowledge of the second language, they were able to determine what they had to work on to improve their skills. However, challenges remain.
To offer a greater number of intensive French classes, qualified teachers need to be hired. To improve immersion, the option has to be available to everyone, including students with special needs, and, to make second-language learning more vibrant, more cultural activities need to be offered.
The main concern that I have and have had since my own children attended French immersion schools is the absence of proper measuring of language competency or the level of French proficiency in order to prepare students for the workforce.
Having said that, our intergovernmental collaboration on education has produced results, and it will be important to continue in that direction.
I have, in fact, suggested, in a letter to the provinces and territories, that I expect their action plans to report on projects related to the measure for the acquisition of language skills.
In August 2013, we also renewed our collaboration with the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. The protocol we signed with the council provides for more than $1.3 billion in federal investments over five years.
I have just presented some of the results in education. As far as community support and the promotion of our linguistic duality are concerned, Canadian Heritage's actions are also producing results. I mentioned them in the Annual Reports on Official languages 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. Our programs primarily support the provision of minority-language provincial and territorial services in fields such as justice, culture and health. There is no shortage of success stories there.
Our youth are important to me, and I am proud that we were able to offer bursaries to 7,800 students in 2011-12.
With these bursaries, students can enhance what they have learned in class. Spending time with francophones or anglophones on a daily basis means they can improve their second-language skills.
We have also created 700 summer or short-term jobs for young bilingual Canadians. These jobs give them solid work experience as well as a chance to practise their French and English.
The recent annual reports also describe my role coordinating official-languages support among federal institutions.
Canadian Heritage adopted a broad coordination approach in 2011-12 to standardize the reporting of some 170 federal institutions.
After three years of this, Canadians now have a complete picture of efforts being made across the country in support of French and English.
In the interest of efficiency, in 2013, we also undertook a review of our support for official-language community organizations in order to ensure that the measures we have in place truly meet community needs. Our investment remains the same. We merely want to maximize results. All the actions we are taking to improve our processes and procedures are important. They are in line with our government's commitment to manage public funds effectively, and they tie directly into our commitment to achieve results for Canadians. Thank you for your attention. I am ready for your questions.
The Deputy Chair: Thank you very much, minister. The first question will be from Senator Fortin-Duplessis.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: It is a pleasure to finally have you here at the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages. To begin, I have a general question for you.
You came into this role less than a year ago, and you certainly brought with you a renewed vitality and obvious enthusiasm. I would like to hear your thoughts on some of the challenges you face going forward.
What is the most significant challenge you have in terms of official languages?
Ms. Glover: That is a very good question, thank you. I like working with others. I would say that my top priority is working not only with the provinces and territories — who are in charge of education, for example — but also working with parliamentarians from both chambers and community organizations in the 10 provinces and territories.
It is quite a challenge to do all that when I am only in Ottawa for four days a week. I am trying to take the time to visit more communities; share my thoughts, my priorities; and listen to the priorities and the opinions of the people I am visiting. There are not enough hours in the day to do it all.
I think that time is working against my team. They work very hard, as do I. I think that is the biggest challenge we have to overcome. This is a large country and many people are interested in our country's official languages and heritage.
If ever you have time to help me with that, I would be pleased to have you participate in our roundtable sessions and teleconferences. The more people we have working on this, the more developed the French, francophone, francophile and bilingual elements of our country will be.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I have a background in education, and I am very concerned about the future of Canada's youth. You mentioned that your department has offered bursaries to students. You also offered work placements to make them more successful and help them learn the other official language.
In addition to the bursaries and work placements, what else is your department doing to help young people?
Ms. Glover: I can tell you, senator, just how positive an impact teachers have on our youth. I know that you care deeply about youth and education.
I would not be bilingual today if it were not for my teachers. I want to thank my teachers in Manitoba for helping me. Young people are benefitting from Government of Canada funding that is helping the provinces and territories offer minority-language programs in our minority communities. Approximately $265 million is invested in agreements with the provinces and territories each year.
Second languages are also supported by that funding. There are programs that offer young people the opportunity to travel the country to experience life in their second language.
There are support funds for SEVEC, Explore and Odyssey. Those programs are very important for educators because they give them an opportunity to really live life in a minority language outside of their region.
We also fund numerous other programs through other departments. Take, for example, Minister Kenney, whose portfolio includes an employment strategy to help youth enter the labour market, or the programs tied to Minister Leitch's portfolio, status of women.
As I said, there are many programs that fall under my portfolio but, for young people, it does not end there. It crosses over into other departments because these are the young people that will replace us someday, and we need to train and help them as much as we can.
Senator Fraser: I want to apologize. I arrived late. I am sure you know that senators run from one meeting to another. Again, I wish to apologize. It was unintended.
Minister, welcome to the Senate and welcome to this committee. I have two questions and a quick suggestion. You said in your remarks and the library notes we received, confirm that the roadmap announced $1.1 million over five years.
Ms. Glover: Billion.
Senator Fraser: That's what I wanted to clarify. Thank you.
Can you tell me what your department is doing in light of the recent and indeed ongoing changes in the immigration system? What is your department doing to assess the impact of those changes on minority language communities and, where necessary, to mitigate any negative effects?
Ms. Glover: Thank you very much for the question. I apologize. I don't really need translation. I'm starting to lose my hearing, I've noticed. I think it's because of my Metis background and all of the hunting and the police shooting. That's why I apologize.
Senator Fraser: I'm not a Metis, and I can't hear either.
Ms. Glover: Thank you. Immigration is absolutely something that is important, particularly to minority communities like the one that I live in in Winnipeg. I understand Minister Alexander is going to be appearing March 24, which is very important in regard to this study.
I can assure you that this is something that we are all seized with, because we are a trading country. Under this government we have been able to ensure that trade flourishes. We have signed a number of trade agreements with other countries, including recently announcing that our trade agreement with the European Union is progressing, and of course we have some very important countries we look to for immigration, francophone immigration specifically, into those minority communities.
When I was in Winnipeg for the federal-provincial-territorial ministers meeting on francophonie, we actually looked at this very subject and invited a couple of professionals, some experts in the field. An independent expert by the name of Mr. Bissoeau actually produced a report, and I have it in front of me. I will just read to you the conclusion of his report. He looked at the immigration changes that have been proposed by this government and did a thorough independent review, and said the following, and I've got it in French:
Our conclusion: The reform of Canada's immigration system will have a positive effect overall on Canada's francophone communities. Communities will need to adapt.
Communities will have to switch from a reactive approach to the reception and settlement of immigrants who go to organizations and institutions within the community to a proactive approach to implementing new strategies abroad and in Canada.
Reform will shift the work of communities from a sectoral basis (education, economy, health, settlement) to a geographic basis (municipality, town or village, region, depending on the case), which will make the role of francophone immigration support networks more important.
There is no evidence to suggest that there are any impacts that are negative on our communities. There has been some opinion, but based on no facts. This gentleman took those immigration changes, did a fulsome study and is confident that our employers, our provinces and territories and in fact our post-secondary education, are going to be the motors of change and will successfully be able to use what has been adopted to improve the situations in many communities across the country.
Thank you for asking that question.
Senator Fraser: I'm an English Quebecer. You talked about the impact on minority language francophone communities, which is, heaven knows, vitally important. Have you looked at all at the situation of immigrants to Quebec whose mother tongue is English or whose official language is English? As a general rule, if I can piggyback my question, do you have any numbers on the amount of your time and budget that goes to English Quebec?
Ms. Glover: Let's start with the first one. It is in fact Citizenship and Immigration Canada that does the research with regard to impacts in minority communities, but you're absolutely right. English-speaking minority communities in Quebec are as important as the francophone communities outside of Quebec, the minority communities. That's why in the roadmap I am so proud that we actually make sure that as we target economic immigrants. There's $120 million in the roadmap, and they don't specify whether it's an anglophone minority community or francophone minority community. They're equally important. When people ask me the question about why I say ``economic immigrants'' and shouldn't we just be targeting for francophones, I say we have two national languages, equally important, and so I'm proud that our government continues to support both.
Now, with regard to your other question, it is important that Minister Alexander have an opportunity to share that research with you, so I'll leave that question to him.
Senator Fraser: Your department's budget?
Ms. Glover: Our department's budget specifically? We can commit that to you. Perhaps Hubert or Jean-Pierre have that information with them.
Jean-Pierre C. Gauthier, Director General, Official Languages Branch, Canadian Heritage: We'll need to get back to you with details and numbers.
Senator Fraser: That would be greatly appreciated.
Ms. Glover: We have a number of organizations. The QCGN is one, ELAN is another, both through Heritage Canada.
They work hard in the community and we congratulate them for their efforts in Quebec.
The Deputy Chair: Last week, representatives from the Quebec Community Groups Network — QCGN — appeared before our committee and they seemed quite pleased with how things are working.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Minister, you have a tremendous responsibility and your enthusiasm for the status of official languages in Canada is very touching. Congratulations. It is a tremendous responsibility given that immigration plays such a key role in our future.
Ms. Glover: Thank you.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I am not quite sure how to phrase my question. Your ministerial responsibilities include the CBC/Radio-Canada.
Ms. Glover: Yes.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I will admit that I am biased. I was in charge of setting up the CBC/Radio-Canada's French-language services in northern Ontario and, subsequently, all of the country's regional radio and television programming, including in Quebec. What I came to appreciate, in addition to our country's regional differences — I was in a different region each week — is the vital role that Radio-Canada plays in broadcasting and in maintaining the quality of French in every region of the country, and English, too. Over the years, Radio-Canada and CBC held various contests, including writing contests for theatre and the news. The number of contests dropped significantly because of budget cuts. What role do you think a national public broadcaster plays in ensuring that Canada's official languages are respected?
Ms. Glover: Thank you for your question. Radio-Canada and the CBC are a vital part of certain communities, particularly in northern Canada, where there are no other broadcasters. Of course, that includes francophone communities. They do not have access to other radio or television stations in their language.
When Hubert Lacroix appeared before your committee, I believe he gave the figure of 97 per cent or 98 per cent, which is very high, but there are no options other than Radio-Canada in those communities.
It is important that we give access to those people, who do not have access to other broadcasters. We give Radio- Canada $1.1 billion for TV broadcasting. It is also used to support our communities, report the news and broadcast Canadian content. Canadians must have access to Canadian music and news, and they must be able to watch Canadian movies.
Radio-Canada plays that role using the money we provide, and that money comes from taxpayers. Perhaps that money was used for contests in the past, but we offer the same kinds of contests that you spoke of.
We offer high school students the chance to take a photo and send it to us in celebration of Canada Day. Students can also write about how important Canada is, or they can create a poster. It is a country-wide contest and there are prizes, including a trip to Ottawa for Canada Day.
We are already finding ways to encourage students to promote their country, in French and English. I cannot comment on the contests that are no longer taking place, but I know that Radio-Canada does work in the community.
Senator Chaput: My question is about federal government funding for official language learning, in other words, education spending. If I understood correctly, you said that you just renegotiated or signed a protocol with the Council of Ministers?
Ms. Glover: Yes, in August. Signing the protocol was one of the first things I did as minister, and I encouraged the provinces and territories to negotiate agreements, nearly half of which have been finalized. There will be announcements about those agreements in the coming weeks. We are close to finalizing the other agreements, but we are still in negotiations with certain provinces.
Senator Chaput: A number of our witnesses shared their concerns about how the provinces and territories are spending the money they receive from the federal government for official language learning. They also said that they would really like to see mechanisms and objectives set out in the new protocol so that there is more transparency, all while recognizing that there must be a balance. The provinces and territories do not necessarily like to have conditions imposed upon them.
Minister, you provide significant funding for education. When the negotiations are over, will this new protocol encourage greater transparency on the part of the provinces and territories? Will the spending targets, whether for teaching French as a second language or teaching it in minority situations, be better defined?
Ms. Glover: As I said in my speech at the beginning, I have concerns about that as well. I want to ensure, in partnership with the provinces and territories, that the funding will have an impact on education and that our children will be ready to be part of the labour market.
Each agreement addresses a need, as outlined in the reports submitted by the provinces and territories. During negotiations, we discuss action plans. We ask the provinces and territories to present an action plan that clearly outlines what they are going to accomplish and what their goals are. The report explains exactly where they stand and what they have done with the money.
I also sent a letter to provincial and territorial ministers to invite them to look at how we could measure our students' language skills.
Senator Chaput: During discussions with your department and when establishing their objectives, did the provinces and territories consult the communities that they represent? Was there any consultation with the communities, or did the provinces and territories do this on their own, to your knowledge?
Minister, many witnesses have told us that some of them were not really consulted. They also said that when they tried to find out the results of the plan, they were denied access and it was difficult from them to obtain the information. Is there a way to resolve that dilemma for your department?
Ms. Glover: The protocol urges consultation, but it is not mandatory. We ask them to hold consultations because education falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. However, it is not obligatory. We hold our own consultations even though it is outside our jurisdiction.
For example, during consultations about the upcoming 150th anniversary of Confederation, some people spoke about education, and that helped us. I would also like to say that the Commissioner of Official Languages has assessed the transparency of these agreements and gave us a ranking of ``very good.'' He had no concerns about how these reports are submitted.
Senator Chaput: The concern is not about Heritage Canada, which hands over the money and signs the agreements. The concern is about how to ensure greater transparency regarding provincial education spending. I am just wondering if we can go a bit further.
Ms. Glover: We can encourage the premiers of the provinces and territories to provide more information. We can encourage them.
Senator McIntyre: Thank you for being here and for your speech, Minister. There are many interesting topics that the Senate committee could be discussing with you, be it the annual report on official languages, recent changes to the immigration system or second-language learning. Those are all very interesting and timely topics.
That said, I would like to talk to you about recent changes to the immigration system. I have noticed that since 2012, the federal government has announced a series of language-related changes concerning the selection of immigrants. I have also noticed that there is an emphasis on being fluent in one of our two official languages. Bill C-24 is one example; it was introduced in the House of Commons in February. I understand that the bill is just at first reading in the House of Commons, and it is designed to amend the Citizenship Act. Can you tell me a bit about that bill?
Ms. Glover: To begin, I believe that French and English, our two national languages that are subject to the Official Languages Act, should be promoted both within the country and outside it.
We really want to be sure that our immigrants are truly becoming part of our country. That is why our government has quadrupled its funding for immigrant integration.
Before our government came to power, Manitoba's integration fund was $8 million. Now, it is $39 million a year, which is incredible. We understand how enriching immigrants are. They bring with them the tools we need. Knowing French and English will help them become part of the labour market as well as our communities. Requiring immigrants to know French or English is not only in the interests of Canadians, it is in the interests of the immigrants.
As for the rest of bill, another minister manages the file, so it is up to him to go into detail about the changes as they are going to be implemented.
Senator McIntyre: I believe that Heritage Canada is part of Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Francophone Minority Communities Steering Committee. Can you talk to us about that committee's structure and mandate? Does it still exist?
Ms. Glover: We used to be part of that committee. Mr. Lussier can confirm, but I believe there were 50 participants. However, we are no longer involved in it. Once again, that would be a good question for Minister Alexander. However, I can ask Mr. Lussier to clarify.
Hubert Lussier, Assistant Deputy Minister, Citizenship and Heritage, Canadian Heritage: The only thing I can add to what the Minister said is that the changes made by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration were done with the full support of and in consultation with francophone communities. They benefit from that consultation mechanism, but it was deemed to be too cumbersome. The department wanted to simplify it and make it more efficient.
Senator Robichaud: Congratulations on being so fluent in your second language, minister.
Ms. Glover: Thank you very much.
Senator Robichaud: At the very beginning of your speech, you spoke about national languages and you repeated the term twice. I feel that official languages and national languages are different. Can you enlighten me as to what those concepts mean to you? Is there a difference between them?
Ms. Glover: I worked very hard to learn a second language, so I understand how that knowledge has opened doors for me across the country, from coast to coast.
I am very proud of the fact that Canada has had two languages — French and English — since its inception. We maintain those two national languages. I am proud of those two national languages, which are also our two official languages, as per the Official Languages Act.
I believe that calling them our official languages is the same as calling them our national languages. I am proud to know both of them. They will always be a part of Canada. They have been part of Canada from the outset. I like to celebrate the fact that we have two national languages.
We will always have the Official Languages Act, and I am proud of that.
Senator Robichaud: I understand your pride, and I am proud as well. However, I do not entirely agree when you say that the two languages have been part of Canada from the outset. Aboriginal languages were here long before we were, and they are still a part of Canada. That is why I asked you that question. When we are talking about national languages, I do not want to exclude Aboriginal languages. I believe that we need to make more of an effort on that front.
Ms. Glover: Canadian Heritage has initiatives to retain Aboriginal languages. I believe that there are 86 Aboriginal languages across the provinces and territories. French and English are spoken everywhere. Take Yukon, for example. In Yukon, 13 per cent of the population speaks French and English. Yukon ranks third in terms of bilingual inhabitants. That is unbelievable!
That is why I am talking about national languages in that context. I am not saying that other languages are not important. Thousands of people also speak Tagalog, and thousands of people speak other languages. However, since Confederation, we have had two official languages: French and English. I hope that will always be the case. I am very happy to support Aboriginal languages, but they are not spoken across Canada.
Senator Robichaud: We disagree on that. I have another very brief question. What is the language of work at Canadian Heritage?
Ms. Glover: We work in both languages.
Senator Poirier: Madam Minister, thank you for being here. It is a pleasure to see you again.
I have a question about New Brunswick. New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada. In your discussions, your programs and your work, does your department see things differently when it comes to New Brunswick since it is the only officially bilingual province? In the rest of Canada, both the anglophone and francophone regions, there are more small minority communities. Is there a difference in the kind of work you do when it comes to the province of New Brunswick?
Ms. Glover: Thank you for your question, senator. I have here a map that I had drawn up when I took office. I wanted to know where the provinces were in terms of anglophones, francophones and bilingual people. I thought that was very important. I also have a connection to New Brunswick because many New Brunswickers settled in Saint- Boniface. I think it is very interesting that these people are perfectly bilingual and that that is accepted because I would like French to be totally normal everywhere. By that, I mean that nobody would be surprised to hear someone speaking French.
That kind of thing does not surprise New Brunswickers. French is everywhere. French is a normal part of the round tables I participate in. New Brunswick is really a key province to demonstrate to others that it can be done.
We do not treat them differently. We work very well with the Government of New Brunswick. Everything depends on the people. I, myself, do not react any differently to New Brunswick than to the other provinces.
When I look at that map, I can see that, in terms of bilingualism, New Brunswick is second, Quebec is first, and Yukon is third. Then I look at Manitoba and see that it is eighth even though I thought Manitoba was quite bilingual. I thought we were right up there. I can see that we have some work to do. We are eighth in terms of bilingualism.
I love that map. I would like my province to be right up there with New Brunswick, where 33.2 per cent of the people are bilingual.
Senator Poirier: You said that Quebec is first. Is that per capita?
Ms. Glover: Exactly. In Quebec, 42.6 per cent of the people are bilingual. 85.5 per cent are francophone and 13.5 per cent are anglophone.
Senator Oh: Minister, as the coordinator of the government's actions on official languages, Canadian Heritage is involved in a variety of initiatives surrounding immigration in official languages from minority communities. How would you assess Citizenship and Immigration Canada's implementation of section 41 of the Official Languages Act?
Ms. Glover: That is an interesting question, because it is in fact Minister Alexander who has most of the responsibility with regard to the immigration portfolio. As I said to Senator McIntyre, we no longer sit at the table with regard to that. They have other people sitting at the table. There were 50 originally, so we don't sit at that table any more. It's probably important that you ask some of these questions of Minister Alexander.
We all have responsibilities under the Official Languages Act as ministers of the Crown to ensure that it is respected in each of our ministries. Of course, Treasury Board has specific obligations under the Official Languages Act. I, under Part VII, have a number of obligations, and Justice has obligations as well. We all have to ensure that our ministries provide service and that we also ensure that language of choice is being used by the employees.
As I say, it's probably a question that you might want to ask of the immigration minister. I continue to speak with him regularly about things like ensuring we consult. I'm happy to report that Minister Alexander and I intend to have round tables together in minority language communities so that we can understand their preoccupations and perhaps their concerns with regard to the immigration changes. I want to learn as much as he does so that we serve the communities collaboratively.
Senator Oh: As the Minister of Heritage, I would really like to see a global village now. I would like to see more young people taking up all different languages, because that is an asset to Canada. That is an asset for international trade. I think that is important for the future. I believe Australia is doing so at this moment.
Ms. Glover: That would be wonderful. I think knowing more than one language, senator, offers us so many opportunities. I know it was very difficult for my anglophone parents to choose the path of immersion. It was not easy. There was a lot of push-back in the community. The francophone community did not want us to learn French, but many of them in the francophone community stood up with us and said this is a good thing not only for these children but for our community and our country. I thank those francophone teachers and the people who pushed for this and supported it.
We could be learning other language. I see it in a number of communities where our students are embarking on Spanish lessons and Mandarin lessons. This is wonderful, and we should celebrate this. It's not a problem in some other countries, and so we should celebrate it and encourage it. I think our children are better off for it, as is our country.
The Deputy Chair: Thank you, minister. This is where you and I are really thinking alike. You travel in Europe. Why would a young Swiss not be able to get his high school diploma if he doesn't speak foreign languages? Our young people are not less intelligent. It's a question of ear, a question of learning. One of the subjects that this committee will be studying in the next few months is how another language should be taught.
The best way to learn a new language is to travel. Immersion is one thing, but we are going to study how that can really be improved.
Ms. Glover: Oh, yes!
The Deputy Chair: We have to congratulate people like you and Minister Alexander, who are probably the two most bilingual people in cabinet. Minister Alexander also speaks French very well.
I have to tell you how proud I was when our Olympic Games ended and our young athletes were able to express themselves in one language or the other and say they were happy or sad in one language or the other. Anglophones from Western Canada were able to say it in French, and francophones from the lower St. Lawrence were able to say it in English. I think that Sport Canada is doing an extraordinary job of making sure that those who represent us abroad can do so in both languages.
During the study that we will undertake at the end of the session, after Easter, will we find people who can share secrets to making second, third and fourth language acquisition easier for young Canadians? I imagine that since you went through that with a second language, Ms. Glover, you would agree with us. We might come knocking on your door to see if we can help each other make sure that Canadians are, if not polyglots, at least trilingual or bilingual.
Ms. Glover: When you talked about Canadian Olympians, that gave me the shivers. Canada was there with them all the way. We felt like part of the team. They did such a great job.
The Deputy Chair: And in both languages.
Ms. Glover: In both languages. When I saw Alexandre Bilodeau and the Dufour-Lapointe sisters speak in both French and English, sometimes at once, that was incredible. That gives me the shivers because that is what Canada is. They represent Canada and they make us look good to the whole world. Our two national languages were represented. I could not have been more proud.
I would also like to say that I have very strong opinions about how we can help our young people learn languages. I was in one of the very first immersion classes, Madam Chair. At the time, if we spoke English, the teachers said, ``No, no, no, speak French.''
We had a ticket system with three tickets. If we spoke English, the teacher gave us a ticket. That meant we had to go see the principal. The principal asked us why we were speaking English even though we were in an immersion class. When we got a second ticket, we had to go see the principal and they called our parents. If a student got a third ticket, school staff met with the parents and the student and asked which school the student wanted to go to. If the student did not want to speak French, why be in an immersion program?
Parents persuaded the provinces to get rid of that system, and the provinces changed the rules. Kids are not using the language anymore. When I got to French and immersion schools, I hear English everywhere.
If you do a study on second-language learning, you have to measure the level of French because our students are learning French in immersion or French schools and they think they speak enough of the language to get jobs in the public service, for example. But when they apply for jobs, some do not pass the tests. We are failing them. That is why I encourage the provinces to implement a system to measure the level of French.
We have to do better by our children. We have to give them opportunities to practise their French, and we have to evaluate their French to give them the best chance of finding work. Entering the job market is hard enough as it is, but if people spend 13 years learning French and then cannot pass the exam at the end, that means our system has failed in its duty toward our children.
The Deputy Chair: Thank you, Madam Minister. Let us hope that the results of our study will be useful to you and the provinces. Let us see what the experts have to say, what parents have to say, what kids who are learning one of our two official languages have to say. That is one of the topics we will be studying before the summer.
Thank you so much, Madam Minister, for coming to see us today. Mr. Lussier, it seems like we know each other well since we have seen each other so often. Mr. Gauthier, thanks to you too.
Let's talk both languages. They're both official.
(The committee adjourned.)