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Standing Committee on Official Languages


NUMBER 037 
l
1st SESSION 
l
41st PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (0845)  

[Translation]

     Welcome to the 37th meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages on this Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Pursuant to Standing Order 108, we are conducting the study on the evaluation of the roadmap: improving programs and service delivery.

[English]

     Today we have two substitute members joining us: Mr. Sopuck and Madam Ambler. Welcome.

[Translation]

    There are two new committee members: Mr. Benskin and Mr. Dionne Labelle. Welcome.
    Today we have four groups: Ms. Beaubien, Ms. Beaumont and Mr. Provencher from the Fédération franco-ténoise, Ms. Chartrand and Mr. René from the Association des francophones du Nunavut, Mr. Custodio and Mr. Corbineau from the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador, and, lastly, Mr. Forgues from the Canadian Institute of Research on Linguistic Minorities. Welcome to you all.
    We will begin with the Fédération franco-ténoise.
    On behalf of the Fédération franco-ténoise and the Northwest Territories' francophone community, we are pleased to accept the invitation from the Standing Committee on Official Languages. My name is Josianne Beaumont, and I am the Second Vice-President of the board of directors. I am joined by Claire Beaubien, our Executive Director, and by Léo Paul Provencher, who was the FFT director for over seven years.
    The FFT's mission is to promote, encourage and advocate for the NWT's French-Canadian cultural, political, economic, social and community life in order to enhance the vitality of the NWT's francophone communities. The FFT does this through representing, coordinating, promoting and supporting the development of these communities, together with its members and partners.
    Our organization has been active in the NWT for 33 years, delivering a range of community services to a variety of client groups: French-language health services, youth, immigrant settlement, literacy and seniors' services. Our members are concentrated mostly in four local communities: Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River and Fort Smith. Apart from the weekly newspaper L'Aquilon and the community radio station, there are also four socio-cultural organizations.
    According to the 2006 Census, over 3,720 residents, 9.1% of the population, across the NWT have the ability to speak French, and French was first official language of 2.6% of the NWT population. As for education, 230 students attend two French-language schools in Yellowknife and Hay River. There are also four French immersion programs with a combined enrolment of 350 students.
    Since 2008, the FFT has had some major achievements, including creation of a post-secondary institution in Yellowknife, establishment of an immigrant settlement service, involvement in Destination Canada on two occasions and the release by the Réseau TNO Santé en français of a directory of human resources and institutions able to deliver French-language services. Our Jeunesse TNO service received an honourable mention from Canadian Heritage in recognition of the Multimedia Forum in 2009. These initiatives would not have been possible without the investments set out in the roadmap, and the outcomes provide ample evidence that the roadmap should be renewed.
    In terms of community cooperation and consultation, we wish to underscore the efforts of certain federal agencies that take their obligations under part VII of the Official Languages Act seriously. Some members of your committee had the opportunity to visit our community last winter and learn about the difficulties we are facing in terms of community space. These problems remain unresolved, although we are pleased with what came out of our dealings with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.
    Looking at the investments under the current roadmap, we can see that a number of regional initiatives are included. We are disappointed to see that none of these initiatives pertain to the territories, despite the fact that our needs in terms of school and community infrastructure are just as pressing.
    A recurring problem with living in the north is our highly mobile workforce. People who move here stay for less than five years; businesses and governments are barely able to fill all the positions available, and they spend a fortune on recruitment. This can be explained by a number of reasons, particularly early childhood services. In Yellowknife, child care costs $700 a month; in Inuvik, $850. This situation makes it difficult for young mothers to return to the workforce, thereby hampering economic development.
    The previous example clearly illustrates the challenges caused by the high cost of living in the north. They are also reflected in the analysis of our results. In calculating the quantity of services delivered per dollar invested, we see that the territories are clearly far behind the provinces with large urban centres. Not only do we have low numbers in absolute terms, but also our costs in terms of salaries, housing, transportation and energy are vastly higher.

  (0850)  

    As a result, we believe that the principle of fairness and equal access needs to apply to the way northerners are treated when setting parameters for government programs and evaluating the results achieved. In recent weeks, the Government of the Northwest Territories and francophone community representatives finalized an implementation plan for French-language communications and services. This is an important and significant development in the history of the NWT's francophone community.
    Consequently, the FFT recommends: that the roadmap be renewed and that its funding reflect the government's obligations under part VII of the Official Languages Act; that the next roadmap include specific measures for the territories, particularly with respect to community infrastructure, since none of the regional initiatives in the current roadmap addressed northern challenges; that the next roadmap include a national early childhood strategy, given its importance to the vitality of francophone minority communities and northern economic development; that the principles of fairness and equal access be reflected in the parameters of departmental programs and in outcomes evaluation; that the Canadian government adequately support the Government of the Northwest Territories in implementing its strategic plan on French-language communications and services; that Treasury Board adopt a policy recognizing the responsibility of federal institutions to take the needs of official-language minority communities into account when disposing of public buildings, in order to act on the Commissioner of Official Languages' recommendation; and that the report on the Study on the Development of Linguistic Duality in Northern Canada, prepared in winter 2011, be completed and issued as soon as possible.
    I will be pleased to answer your questions.
    Thank you very much.
    I now hand over the floor to the Association des francophones du Nunavut.
    Mr. Chair, committee members, thank you for your invitation to appear before the Standing Committee on Official Languages. We are pleased to come and share our experience with you and to contribute to the evaluation of the roadmap in order to improve programs and service delivery.
    We will briefly present the Association des francophones du Nunavut, its accomplishments and its challenges. Then we will explain the positive impact the roadmap has had on the vitality of the francophone community of Nunavut and why it is essential to renew it.
    As the organization representing the Franco-Nunavummiut community for the past 30 years, the AFN has a mission to work toward affirming and achieving the full potential of the francophone community in Nunavut in harmony with the other cultures there. The community governance of the francophone minority in Nunavut is an essential factor in the community's vitality.
    As the community's representative organization, the AFN ensures the coordination and mobilization of the associative network. We take part in efforts to implement the territory's Official Languages Act
    Few federal government departments are present in the territory and few services are provided in French. On the territorial side, Nunavut's Official Languages Act was passed in 2008 and should be implemented starting in 2012. Few French-language services have been offered to date, but the Government of Nunavut has an Official Languages Branch, a Minister of Languages and a Commissioner of Languages.

  (0855)  

     The Department of Canadian Heritage has provided financial support for the vitality of the francophone community since 1999. Under agreements on the transfer of funds from the Government of Canada to the provinces and territories, we also receive financial support from the Nunavut government's Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth. We have also received funding from HRSDC and CanNor.
    These contributions enable us to work toward consolidating our gains because there is no guarantee that the vitality of an official language minority community will be preserved. We face many challenges, and maintaining linguistic and community vitality comes at a very significant real cost, particularly in the north.
    In arts and culture, our community and cultural centre has a multidisciplinary purpose. The performing arts and music are in particular demand. As there is no auditorium in Iqaluit, the Franco-Centre is the preferred venue for local artists of all languages and for organizations seeking a room where they can present their cultural activities.
    The financial support we receive contributes to the creation, improvement and delivery of activities and services to francophones and to the community as a whole. It is by continuing to invest in our activities that we will be able to diversify what we offer, enhance our programming and increase the number of activities and participants, while supporting community stakeholders in their efforts to promote culture in all its forms.
     In communications, the station CFRT—which we call "C-FRET"—is not only a community radio station, but especially the only francophone radio station in Nunavut. It is the only available media outlet for francophones who want to be informed in French, to listen to a local radio station in their language and to broadcast advertising and government public announcements in French. The same is true of Nunavoix, our local newspaper. With the implementation of Nunavut's Official Languages Act, the French-language media will become essential because public communications will also have to be conducted in French. Without funding, there will be no more communications in French.
    In education, the Commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut, or CSFN, offers educational services to preschool, primary and secondary students. In 2013, it will have its first grade 12 graduating class. Francophone students in grades 9 to 12 currently have a French-language program in collaboration with the Inukshuk English-language school.
    In the wake of the economic development of Iqaluit and Nunavut, CSFN's enrolment has doubled from 47 students in 2006 to 93 in 2011. It also offers home schooling support services to francophone students from Coral Harbour and Pangnirtung.
     In cooperation with Nunavut's Department of Education and Canadian Heritage, CSFN would like soon to offer a full-time francization class for four-year-old children and gradually return grade 9 students to the École des Trois-Soleils, along with high school students. Returning to French-language schools would enable them to consolidate their francophone identity and sense of belonging to a community, which very much needs all its members to ensure its survival and growth.
    In early childhood, Les Petits Nanooks early childhood centre offers a high-quality educational service based on the educational francization program. Les Petits Nanooks also offers exogamous families tools for using French in the home. However, given the geographic realities, costs are high, student numbers limited, staff retention difficult and educational resources lacking or inaccessible. In addition, low capacity is undermining the day care centre's development. Demand is increasing, but the number of available spaces has remained the same. The challenges are great and it is therefore essential that we obtain financial support to ensure continuity of French-language services for families and children.
    In health, Résefan is working for the greater well-being of the francophone community, the health of its members and on issues of access to health and social services. Résefan offers activities for people's everyday lives, including badminton, family swims, Saturday youth days and health awareness. Much remains to be done in the area of health promotion and implementing services in cooperation with the territorial government.
    As for economic development, Nunavut's cooperation council was established in 2009. The council promotes sustainable development and social entrepreneurship in harmony with the cultures and populations of the north, while promoting the interests of Nunavut's francophone community.
    In short, with financial support, AFN and Nunavut's community organizations have managed to achieve tangible results for the Franco-Nunavummiut community, and those results are consistent with the Canadian government's commitment to assist in the development of the official language minority communities. That is why we recommend renewing and improving the roadmap to ensure the continued existence and vitality of our community.

  (0900)  

    For the next roadmap, we recommend building on the expertise of the francophone community's organizations and conducting consultations. We are firmly rooted in the community and we understand the reality of the Franco-Nunavummiut. It is important for the vitality and development of our community that the roadmap correspond to the situation, needs, expectations and priorities of the Franco-Nunavummiut community.
    We also recommend reinforcing the capacity of the community organizations and increasing investments to enable us to continue offering products and services that meet citizens' expectations and to which they are entitled. As a result of our knowledge of our milieu, we are able to make a significant contribution to the vitality of the community we serve.
    There is one factor that should not be disregarded: in Nunavut, it is difficult to recruit the necessary human resources and the turnover rate is high. If our financial capacity also declines, the services offered will quickly be eroded. This state of affairs undermines the ability of individuals and families to obtain French-language services, the health, education and early childhood services and the cultural, artistic and recreation products they need and to which they are entitled.
    We also recommend promoting cooperation and collaboration among all the components of society. Networking, partnership and cooperation among francophone organizations are essential because we have the same challenges, the same problems and the same desire to improve access to services. In addition, in Nunavut, we need support for the implementation of the territory's Official Languages Act in order to achieve tangible results.
    In closing, committee members, we thank you for your attention. Thank you for allowing us to share our expectations, our challenges and our pride in saying, "Yes, we live in French here."
    We will now be pleased to answer your questions.
    Thank you.
    I now hand the floor over to the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador.
    Mr. Chair, members, my name is Jules Custodio, and I am President of the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador. With me is Gaël Corbineau, Director General. First we would like to thank you for your invitation to appear and thus for giving our community the chance to speak about the roadmap.
    Since 1973, the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador has worked for the advancement, vitality and recognition of the francophone and Acadian communities of our province. The federation now has six members; three represent the main francophone regions of the province and the other three are provincial organizations operating in early childhood development, youth and the economy.
    Our communities, which have been in existence for more than 500 years, are now mainly scattered across three regions, separated from one another by distances of 800 kilometres to 2,100 kilometres. As you will guess, geographic isolation is a major obstacle for us.
    According to the 2006 census, our community represents 0.4% of the provincial population. Another 25,000 people or so are able to speak French. In 2009, with the support of Canadian Heritage, we established an overall development plan for 2009-2014, which sets out the priority areas for action and objectives for our community corresponding to the areas outlined in the roadmap 2008-2013.
    Now let's consider the impact of the 2008-2013 roadmap on our communities. The interdepartmental approach of the current roadmap has facilitated our development in all priority areas by emphasizing the responsibility of all federal departments in the development of our communities. Since 2008, the roadmap has had numerous positive effects on the everyday lives of our communities.
    First, there are early childhood services. By supporting continuity of offer, the roadmap has promoted sharp growth in this area, to the point where the challenge for us is now to respond to the demand and thus to limit the assimilation of our youngest children. For example, the francophone child care centre in St. John's has space for 14 children, but has an average of 30 on its waiting list. All these children are at great risk of being assimilated because they cannot be accommodated in a francophone environment.
    Second, we have community infrastructure. In recent years, our community has benefited from extensive new infrastructure that is important for our development, including a new building for the Boréale French-language school in Goose Bay, the creation of community websites to facilitate communication about activities and services in the community, and the establishment of our provincial community radio station. These investments are essential to maintaining and developing our communities and make it possible to offer citizens even more activities.
    We have also created a francophone immigration network. As we carry little demographic weight, and the community wishes to maintain and even increase it, we have established a francophone immigration network. Our results are improving from year to year. We assist newcomers, the community and employers whose demands are growing in proportion to our province's positive economic situation.
    There is also funding for a French-language services office. Through the roadmap, our provincial government is funding the Bureau des services en français, which provides invaluable assistance to our organizations by guiding them through the processes of the provincial government. We regret that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has yet to implement a policy on French-language services. We nevertheless see that the awareness work done by the Bureau des services en français with provincial officials has been productive, given the regular increase in the offer of services and the supply of information in French.
    Now I'm going to present our findings and recommendations by addressing the lack of transparency regarding funding allocated under the roadmap. We have unfortunately observed that it is very difficult to determine with any accuracy the amount of funding that is being spent in our province under the roadmap and how it is being used. Furthermore, uncertainty prevails with regard to the way in which funding that goes through the provincial government is used.

  (0905)  

    We believe it would be beneficial for the federal government and the minority language communities for a policy of complete transparency to be adopted with regard to the monitoring of funding under the roadmap. This would make federal government action much clearer for citizens by providing information on amounts actually spent in their communities rather than on significant national amounts that very often are unclear in people's minds.
    With regard to the cultural sector and program funding, of all the fields on which the communities are working, the cultural sector is suffering terribly from a lack of funding, whereas it is a priority under our overall development plan. Since culture is essential to the preservation of our cultural identity, the need in such a small community as ours is proportionately more glaring. Although we have done everything to increase and diversify our network's revenues in recent years, we unfortunately see that it will be impossible for it to be financially self-sufficient if it has to rely solely on project funding. Consequently, we would like future roadmaps to provide for operating budgets for the cultural networks so that they can meet these challenges and provide our citizens with the service they are entitled to expect.
    With regard to the multi-year nature of contribution agreements, we are delighted that multi-year contribution agreements are increasingly being signed, but that is not always the case. This is a factor in the instability and vulnerability of our organizations, particularly because it is difficult to retain our staff in these kinds of situations. We therefore hope that a three-year term becomes the general rule for all contribution agreements signed between the community organizations and the federal departments and that a commitment is made to ensure that the process for renewing those agreements is completed no later than three months before they expire.
    As for early childhood development, Mr. Chair, we believe that it is fundamentally important that it remain an urgent priority of the future roadmap and that efforts be increased to reduce assimilation by promoting the retention of children in the French-language system.
    In conclusion, in these times of budgetary restrictions, we note the disastrous effects that cutbacks to the already tight budgets of the community organizations would have, and we unreservedly recommend that the roadmap be renewed and improved, as that is essential to the vitality and dynamism of our communities and to Canada's bilingualism.
    Mr. Chair, members, on behalf of all the francophones of Newfoundland and Labrador, we thank you for your attention.
    I feel as though this is a race against the clock.

  (0910)  

    Thank you.
    Now we will hear from the representative of the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities.
    Good morning. I am here today to talk to you about the importance of research for supporting the development of the official language minority communities.
    As I represent a research institute, you will certainly not be surprised at that. However, we are not alone in seeing the importance of research. Actually, I asked myself if the research issue had been addressed by your committee. According to the minutes of the committee's public sessions that are available online, 20 community organizations, agencies and government departments mentioned research. I consulted the minutes of meetings 1 to 32. An update should be done.
    Many organizations expressed the need for research and evidence to carry out their activities. The need is being felt at two important levels in the projects undertaken by government agencies: during the project design and planning and during the outcome assessment. The danger of a lack of research is developing public policies or community projects that do not maximize the resources invested. The risk of error is enhanced.
    I quote two excerpts from testimony heard here:
As we don't have conclusive data, we're forced to go into the field to try to identify needs in a hit or miss manner.
    That was a comment by Aurel Schofield, of the Société Santé en français.
    Another excerpt reads as follows:
Without research, there's quite a bit of, I would say, playing around before you hit on a model that's going to make a difference.
    That passage comes from the testimony of a representative of the Black Community Resource Centre.
    The question I have for the government is this: does the government want to invest effectively in the communities or does it prefer to take a chance on investing in risky projects? In fact, the answer can be found in the mid-term report on the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality 2008-2013: Acting for the Future.
As the Government is confronted with challenging economic times, in the final year of the Roadmap, efforts will be made to maximize the use of public investments in the pursuit of the best possible results for Canadians.
    The government and organizations are responsible for the amounts they invest in the communities. In order to ensure maximum impact within the communities, the government must anticipate dedicating a proportion of the investments to research, studies and the gathering of evidence.
    We agree with the FANE that pleaded here for strengthening the capacity of its organizations and institutions, mainly with regard to research and evaluation. I quote its representative:
    
The language clauses in the transfer agreements currently do not enable the government to ensure that funding has been well spent in the planned manner, with benefits for francophone minority citizens. And yet this is taxpayers' money….

We currently have trouble determining certain aspects such as vitality indicators, and that makes work on the ground difficult.
    If I were in the government's shoes, I would be concerned about these types of statements. It is getting ready to invest a significant amount of money in the communities. Every organization should anticipate dedicating a portion of its budget to research and evaluation in order to maximize its action.
    We agree with the Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne which recommended that each spokesgroup for minority communities receive funding in order to be able to work with minority life researchers so that an ongoing study is conducted on the impacts of investments.
    At the Sommet des communautés francophones et acadiennes held in 2007, the organizations and the roughly 700 participants also recognized the importance of research for the development of francophone communities.
    I acknowledge the efforts and resources dedicated by the government in the area of health research, but we will need to allocate equal resources in other sectors such as economic and social development, the development of human resources, core competencies and literacy, arts and culture and immigration. Many stakeholders see a connection between research and the vitality and development of OLMCs. In a study sponsored by the Commissioner of Official Languages, the authors reveal the following link. I am citing a passage from it:
Knowledge, research and evaluation pertaining to vitality seem to be essential to enhancing it.
    However, it also depends on basic research and, with this in mind, the SSHRC and the CIHR must play an important role. In 2008, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages released a report on The Role of Canadian Federal Research Funding Agencies in the Promotion of Official Languages. After addressing the numerous barriers and challenges facing the OLMCs in the area of research, many recommendations were made, two of which I will mention here:
Establish a specific funding mechanism targeted at small bilingual and official language minority universities to help sustain research capacity at the professor and student levels, and provide adequate administrative support;

...

Set aside stable funding for research on official languages issues and disseminate the results.

  (0915)  

    The CIHR, however, recently abandoned its research program for the OLMCs. The SSHRC also had a similar program in place that they also abandoned a few years ago. I think we should bring back these programs and that these federal agencies should be included as roadmap partners. In part, these programs were a way of addressing the barriers facing researchers in minority communities.
    Moreover, I believe we should also recognize Statistics Canada as a roadmap partner. As pointed out by its representative sitting on your committee, Statistics Canada plays a role in the implementation of the roadmap by providing analyses and data that are essential to the work of departments and community organizations.
    In conclusion, I would say that the federal government must recognize research as an important component of the vitality and the development of the OLMCs. We live in a knowledge-driven society. Knowledge plays an important and strategic role in the development of Canadian society. It plays a role that is equally important for the OLMCs.
    The roadmap's research goals were timid. Research was mentioned, very briefly, for early childhood, immigration and language technologies. With regard to better research coordination, particularly between community, government and academic sectors, it was not a roadmap goal. Yet this issue was discussed at the symposiums organized by the federal government on official languages research that were held in 2008 and 2011. Furthermore, the previous roadmap has no mention of research carried out in other areas of activity and research that are just as important.
    I believe more must be done with regard to research as part of an initiative aimed at developing the OLMCs. Bear in mind that research needs exist in every area of community activity. I expect that in the next roadmap, the government will recognize the importance of research and the importance of better harmonizing the three research hubs: the academic, community and government sectors.
    Thank you.
    Thank you.
    We have about an hour and 30 minutes left for questions and comments.
    Mr. Godin, you have the floor.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I would like to join you in welcoming Mr. Benskin and Mr. Dionne Labelle, who are new members of this committee. I believe that they will bring in new ideas and may be able to help us change the way the government is behaving with regard to official languages and to advance the agenda in this area.
    I would also like to welcome the witnesses who have come to meet with us this morning.
    My first question will concern the roadmap. In 25 years, the Standing Committee on Official Languages had never had an opportunity to conduct a national tour. We finally made the request and managed to do that tour. However, the territories were the only ones not involved. We toured the territories before the 2011 election. We met the people. We took the time to talk to them for a few days so that we could start preparing a report to submit to Parliament. However, as you saw, the government decided it did not want it presented in Parliament.
    Could you tell me how you feel about that? You are the only ones who have not been heard in Parliament. We also wanted to travel to Nunavut. Do you feel like second-class citizens? I would like to hear what you have to say on that subject. We are talking about the roadmap and about improving the conditions of the minorities in Canada. The government spent more than $100,000 to go and meet with the communities, but it's as though someone lit a cigarette with that money.

  (0920)  

[English]

     I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    We have a point of order from Mr. Menegakis.
    Mr. Chair, we're studying the road map. The witnesses are here to talk to us about that. I believe Mr. Godin's question is way out of order and beyond the scope of what we're discussing and studying here. I don't see how referring to what happened in a minority government prior to this mandate can help the witnesses or us in our study at this time.
     Thank you, Mr. Menegakis.
    We are on the road map study, and we've heard opening testimony from the four different groups in front of us. The Fédération franco-ténoise indicated in their recommendations that we receive and incorporate the report that was done by the committee in a previous parliament. I'm going to allow this line of questioning because they did mention it in their opening statement and Mr. Godin is simply asking them to elaborate on it.
    Go ahead, Mr. Godin.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I would like to hear your answer, please.
    We have seen many times that a number of federal organizations are unaware of the northern reality. I'm talking about recent years. We've made elaborate presentations on the three territories together with my colleagues on more than one occasion. We've done that every two or three years or so, and every time we saw how pleased people were to discover the north.
    Your committee's initiative to tour the territories was extremely praiseworthy. You had the opportunity to set foot on the ground, and I believe that it's by smelling the earth that you can understand the nordic reality, the distances, the weather, the small populations and the cost of living. You have set foot there, and I am sure you spent a lot of money to eat in the Northwest Territories, in Yellowknife, since I was there. This initiative should benefit from what you learned about the reality of the territories.
    The government doesn't want the report to be tabled in Parliament. Would you recommend that we finish the report? We had the same researcher, the same clerk and some of the current members of the committee. I know that some crime bills that have been tabled since 2006 have not been examined in Parliament. When we got there, they were not discussed because we were told that we had discussed them enough and that they could table them in Parliament without discussion.
    Since they don't want us to table the report, do you think it would be a good idea for us to go and visit the north again?
    You came to see the north and you can come back because you may not have seen everything in a single visit. However, you have definitely benefited from greater knowledge of our situation. I believe that's an investment that deserves to be completed. You have invested a lot of money.
    Some government members may feel hurt that they didn't go there. That's why they don't want the report to be tabled in Parliament. Perhaps we could have them travel.
    I remember that there were cuts to the community budgets when I went to Newfoundland and Labrador. Is that still going on? We are talking about the roadmap. You want the roadmap to continue. I believe that's clear; that's the case for every group. I can understand why you wanted the roadmap to continue. Has the roadmap done anything for Newfoundland and Labrador? We often hear that people want the roadmap, but that people don't know where the money is going or where it comes from.
    I would like you to clarify that because this is a puzzle for me. People say they want the roadmap. It's as though they knew that there was something, but they don't know what. That's especially the case in the high north because you say you haven't even seen it. You want it, but you haven't had it. What do you really want? Define what the roadmap should be.

  (0925)  

    In fact, your comments contain two questions, Mr. Godin. With regard to the community envelope, when you came to see us, our problem was mainly that the process of obtaining Canadian Heritage's contribution was slow. It came very late. At the time, as you will remember, that also made headlines in the media in our region and elsewhere in Canada. The person responsible for the directorate at the time had to pay employees' salaries using his own personal line of credit.
    There weren't necessarily any cutbacks, but if you consider the fact that the community budget has not been increased for more than a decade, there has technically been a cutback since no allowance was made for inflation. We can estimate that our ability to take action has been cut by more than 30%.
    What was your second question about the roadmap?
    When talking about the roadmap, people always tell me that they don't know where the money is going, how it is being spent, the province—
    In support of what Mr. Custodio, my president, said during his presentation, I would say that our major concern today is to ensure the renewal of the roadmap, which we believe is really a very promising and praiseworthy concept. However, we would like there to be some transparency to offset the current lack of clarity about the destination of that funding. Of the total amount of funding, we do not know exactly what is being spent in our province for our communities or for the advancement of official languages in Newfoundland and Labrador. This remains a major black mark, and I believe we are not the only ones who have said so.
    There is one other point: what about the funding flowing through the provincial government? That goes into the provincial government's general fund and then we have no certainty that it is allocated to official languages development.
    All right, thank you.
    Mr. Gourde, you have the floor.
    Thanks to the witnesses for being here this morning. You have all testified to the effect that it is important to extend the roadmap. Can you give me any specific examples of initiatives in your provinces or territories that the roadmap has made it possible to establish? Could the future roadmap improve or take your initiatives to a new stage? How could that be done? It's always easier to get an idea when we are given specific examples.
    You may begin, Ms. Beaubien, or someone else.
    With your permission, I will comment on the question. I have lived in the Northwest Territories for a few years. Mr. Gourde, there has been one specific initiative since 2008, the establishment of a francophone college in the Northwest Territories, where there previously was none. A college has gradually been established through federal funding. That college is still in existence, but it has changed names. It has had some difficulty progressing as a result of a lack of support, but it is there; it has started up. That's very specific. It is a college that will very significantly benefit all the communities in the Northwest Territories, and the roadmap will guarantee its development.
    There are some very promising partnerships being discussed, particularly regarding language training and a northern studies program. Knowledge of the north benefits all newcomers, all new citizens of the Northwest Territories. That represents a lot of people, since people do not stay in the Northwest Territories for a very long time.
    That is a specific example, and I can offer several others, such as the development of our radio station and maintenance of our aquadome. More information on federal and territorial services is provided through our media. Policies on the dissemination of information and services to the community also result in greater participation by francophones in communities and services.
    Thank you.

  (0930)  

    I am thinking of some projects in particular. There was the language forum in Nunavut in 2009, and activities related to the forum. That led to Nunavut's legislation on official languages, that is to say Inuktitut, English and French. That represents very good progress for us because it has resulted in the obligation to provide services in French. We have reached the implementation stage, which should begin soon. The legislation is not yet in place, but that is coming.
    The language forum also made it possible to launch a very exciting event for the community, anglophone, Inuit and francophone. These kinds of events are very important for the vitality of the communities and the advancement and awareness of linguistic duality. People in the north are in transition, and the community has to be very vital so that it can make people aware of linguistic duality in the north and for French-language services to be offered. These kinds of events increase people's awareness and promote French. Nunavut's Official Languages Act is a factor that has been very beneficial.
    What do you think of that, Mr. Corbineau?
    I have a specific example illustrating how the roadmap can be a very significant lever for our communities. Many of us have mentioned early childhood services. As a result of the time allocated for the presentation, we were unable to go into a great deal of detail. When our child care centres are full, we are able to keep our children in a French-language environment. That makes it possible to expand the range of French-language services prior to kindergarten and thus covers the school and preschool stages.
    When the school in St. John's opened in 2005, there were 35 students. In September, there will be 150. In 2015, we already know that we will have more than 250 students. Our school enrolment is undergoing explosive growth of 15% to 20% a year, partly because early childhood services are rounding out the continuum from child care to pre-kindergarten. As a result, we are taking care of children in French until they start school.
    That is why early childhood services are important. We have to keep them in our francophone system.
    Are there any other comments on the second stage?
    Was the initiative you just talked about put in place with assistance from the roadmap?
    The roadmap provides partial funding for these early childhood services. Child care facilities such as the one in St. John's operate solely on revenue from parents. However, their introduction was supported by the Fédération des parents francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador, which is funded by the roadmap.
    Today, junior kindergarten services make it possible for children to stay in contact with a francophone environment all week. They are still being assisted by the roadmap and that should continue.
    Unless I'm mistaken, the roadmap has been a lever enabling these organizations and parent associations to put child care centres and early childhood services in place.
    Exactly. There will be an enormous benefit later on, and it will be seen in future school enrolment.
    Have you seen the same thing in the Territories?
    Absolutely.
    In overall terms, the roadmap has enabled the 12 or 13 community organizations to create a more dynamic and more active living environment that is benefiting from certain services.
    I can give you one performance measure. In 2003, when I was appointed executive director, francophones stayed in the Northwest Territories an average of two-and-a-half years. For 2011, when I left my position, the report states that they are now staying there for nearly five years.
    I am convinced that this difference is attributable to our community. It is more active and has received greater support, in particular through the roadmap.
    We can put a number on that difference. There are 1,200 francophones, even though, as we said earlier, more than that number speak French. Since the selection process in the Northwest Territories can cost $15,000, if we retain 100 or 200 francophones more per year, you can easily calculate the savings achieved. I have summarized that and calculated savings of $1 million a year. That is the result of a longer francophone retention period. We are retaining them for longer because we have a structure in which to develop a community life and a community partner life with our community and our government.

  (0935)  

    Thank you.
    Mr. Bélanger now has the floor.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Welcome, ladies and gentlemen.
    First, I would like to go back to the comment I made a few weeks ago. When four groups come and testify at a single meeting, that does them an injustice. We don't really have the time to explore the issues or to get a clearer understanding of them.
    That is particularly true since the groups here this morning come from three separate language systems. Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland and Labrador each have a different language system and specific legislation. The Official Languages Act applies in Newfoundland and Labrador. That legislation does not apply in the territories in the same way. So we really will not have the time to explore the subject this morning.
    This is also the first time I have met people from Nunavut. Thank you for being here. I understand you are facing some constraints. We could meet with fewer people or stretch the time out more. In any case, if we extend our study, that will satisfy the government's desire for our committee to spin its wheels.
    In short, this does not do justice to people, particularly since our research topic is—
    Mr. Bélanger—
    I only have seven minutes, Mr. Chair.
    This won't encroach on your speaking time.
    I want to say that committee members asked me to invite a lot of groups to testify before us. We only have a few meetings in which to hear all the witnesses.

[English]

     There are going to be times when we're going to have four groups in front of us. If the committee wants to extend the meetings beyond the finish in early May, to the end of May, then I can invite two groups per meeting. But the reality is, you've asked me to invite a certain number of groups, I have a certain number of meetings, we've got to fit them in, and the clerk and I are doing our best—
    But we had agreed to limit it to two.
    We did, if possible, but the problem is that we have to coordinate schedules. We have a certain number of meetings and I have to fit in all the witnesses. Some witnesses can't appear at certain times. I'm doing my best to try to limit it to three groups per panel, but in some cases we'll have four. The question becomes, do we have one hour with two witnesses and a second hour with two witnesses, or do we do one panel for two hours with four witnesses? The consensus of the committee is to do two hours with four witnesses, giving members of the committee plenty of time to ask questions, and all members of the committee will have a chance to ask questions.
    The reason I'm elaborating on this is that this has been brought up a number of times, and my response has always been the same. If you want to reduce the number of groups on a particular panel from four down to three or two, you must give me direction as chair to add additional meetings to the study that would extend it well into May. If that's the wish of the committee, I will do so, but at this point I haven't been given that direction. At this point we have a limited number of meetings and a great number of witnesses we need to hear from. So I will do my best to restrict it to two or three witnesses per meeting, but in some cases we'll have four. I cannot help but do that because I'm restricted by what the committee has told me to do.
    I hope that puts the issue to rest—
    No.
    —and if it doesn't, then I suggest you move a motion to extend the study well into May. We'll put it to a vote in the committee, and if the committee adopts it, then we've addressed your problem.

[Translation]

    May I continue?
    Yes, you have the floor.
    What is more, there is something else you don't know. In September, when we began this study on the roadmap, we heard from a lot of people. In February, officials from Canadian Heritage came and told us that it was our committee that had to conduct the evaluation of the roadmap. We didn't even know that at the time. So we have seven minutes to hear from you, and that's the evaluation of the roadmap. I can hardly wait to see the result.
    Mr. Forgues, thank you for what you said. I would like to have a copy of your testimony because it contains some very important points that have not yet been raised. I hope we will find them in the report. They should not be forgotten.
    Following the 2006 Census, we conducted an in-depth study on the vitality of the communities. It must be said that we were able to obtain a certain amount of money. I believe that study cost $7 million. Based on what we've heard to date, the Statistics Canada people will no longer have that amount available to them following the census we've just had. So we will lose continuity.
    As a result of the actions of the FCFA, a number questions have been included in the short questionnaire. The information that we could get might therefore be comparable, for what that's worth.
    I would like to address the topic of early childhood. You say you have 14 spaces for Newfoundland and Labrador. Since when have you had 14 spaces?

  (0940)  

    That's the St. John's day care centre, which has had 14 spaces since 2005, since it was established.
    There's been no increase in the number of spaces since that time.
    No, it's a problem with the premises; they have to be expanded.
    There was no money for an expansion. Is that correct?
    There is a plan to expand the centre.
    There have been 14 spaces since 2005, but the pressing problem of spaces has in fact been around since about 2009 or 2010.
    Unless I'm mistaken, there has not been an increase in the number of spaces since the start of the roadmap in 2008.
    No.
    And you, Ms. Beaubien, how many spaces do you have?
    We have 59.
    Since when?
    Since 2005 or perhaps 2006.
    It's been since 2005 or 2006.
    Are you telling me that there has not been an increase? The roadmap has not resulted in an increase. Is that correct?
    No.
    What we've just discovered is surprising. Pardon me for discovering these things.
     In 2006, the government decided to cancel the early childhood agreements. You are no doubt aware of that. Those agreements contained a clause respecting official language minority agreements, but it was deleted. I also want you to know that I asked the government a question, which was placed on the Order Paper. That is a mechanism that members can use to obtain information from the government. I asked how many spaces had been created for the official language minority communities since 2006. I was told that no one knew. The government is unable to give an answer, and I have just discovered why. Thank you for your answers this morning.
    Ms. Beaumont, thank you very much for recommending that the committee complete its study and submit a report. Unfortunately, that was moved and was the topic of an in camera session, as a result of which we can no longer talk about it. I unfortunately can't talk to you about it any further.
    I'm going to change the subject and talk about immigration. I understood that this is an important factor for the communities. Can you tell me whether French courses are offered for immigrants in your communities? I am talking about French courses.
    French second-language courses are offered at our new post-secondary institution in Yellowknife. There are not a lot of people at those courses, but we can offer that service.
     How many immigrants are taking advantage of the service? I'll explain to you why I ask the question. I tried to find out from the government, once again through questions on the Order Paper, how many French courses there were. English courses are also offered across the country. Not many are offered in French. There are a few here in Ottawa, but I haven't seen many elsewhere. Since when have those courses been offered?
    Probably since the college was established.
    Which was when?
    It was in 2010.
    For approximately how many people?
    I can give you a few more details.
    You may continue.
    The college started up in 2008, but it takes a little time for people to find out about a college and its services. A few small groups took the courses in 2009-2010. That must have continued in 2011 because the college is still in existence.
    Were there 2, 15 or more students?
    No. These are small groups of a few individuals.
    Three or four, five or six?
    No one in the Northwest Territories ever likes absolute numbers very much.

  (0945)  

    Was it two or three?
    No, it was more than that, sir, but it wasn't hundreds of people.
    All right.
    It is like that because the service is developing and in the process of becoming known.
    I'll stop you because I am about to have my speaking time cut off.
    What is the situation in Nunavut?
    The immigration file in Nunavut has not gone as far as elsewhere in Canada.
    So there aren't any.
    There aren't many. There have been some French courses, but, yes, that may have resulted in—
    All right.
    And what about Newfoundland and Labrador?
    There are no French courses for immigrants in Newfoundland and Labrador. Furthermore, our federation cannot help immigrants either when they set foot on Canadian soil. They have to be permanent residents for us to be able to help them, but then they no longer need us.
    Thank you.

[English]

     We'll suspend for two minutes for a brief health break.

    


    

[Translation]

    We now resume the 37th meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages.
    Mr. Weston, you have the floor.
    Thanks to our witnesses today.
     I don't know whether you know, but our Prime Minister was with President Obama in the Rose Garden, in the Bahamas, a few weeks ago. Mr. Obama said at the time that Mr. Harper was more intelligent than he because he had to speak two languages. That was a little joke, but it's something that makes me proud to be Canadian. We have two official languages, and everyone knows that you can speak two languages if you want to visit Canada or live in Canada.
    Ms. Chartrand, you said there were major challenges in the north, where the population density is low. Other witnesses told the committee that there was hope for early childhood. I believe that's normal. Children have more years ahead of them so that they can better learn languages. My three children have had the opportunity to train in French immersion in west Vancouver, and their future will be better as a result of that.
    I am not sure about what has been said today regarding early childhood. What facilities are there? What can the roadmap do for early childhood, Ms. Chartrand?

  (0950)  

    I know that the early childhood centre in Iqaluit recently considered finding other premises or expanding the day care centre because it can no longer meet the demand and is only taking in certain age groups. They would like to extend the service to various age groups so that Nunavut parents can go and work. Everything is expensive in Nunavut, and you absolutely have to have income. Children go to day care and then to school.
    Housing is very scarce in Iqaluit; it is hard to find a place to live. The same is true for places where the child care centre could have expanded. Some things have been considered. However, no solution has been found because it is too costly to build a place or to go elsewhere. The day care centre is currently attached to the school. The premises are small, but they are trying to expand them so that they can take in all those requesting space in the day care centre.
    Mr. Custodio, you also said a lot about early childhood. Could you say more about that? Do you think the roadmap should provide something for early childhood?
    Existing facilities have to be expanded not only for the early childhood centre, but for the schools as well. The classrooms are already too small. The children in kindergarten will likely continue their schooling in French. If we don't have those facilities, we will lose them and they will continue their education in English. It is in our interest to obtain increased funding under the roadmap. We have already made the request, but there are delays; it's taking time. We would like the expansion requests to be approved more quickly. Classes in Newfoundland and Labrador are currently encroaching on community facilities. People have to squeeze in so that children can go to school and have slightly more adequate classrooms.
    Instead of increasing the classroom size, there should be trailers and so on. We would like to obtain an increase. Mr. Corbineau could talk about that more because he is more aware of the situation than I am.
    Even though our government believes that we must invest in the vitality of Canadian bilingualism, I believe the burden also falls on parents. I'm going to ask some clear questions.
    In your community, do parents believe that training in another language is good for their children's general education and that that is not just something that we do as Canadians who are proud of our bilingualism? Is there also that sense that this is good for children's education?

  (0955)  

    Absolutely, that's entirely the case. For example, at our last general meeting, in Fort Smith, anglophone parents there requested French-language services for their children. I was there when they asked for that. Once again, our president recently told me that something had to be done for those children now so as not to lose the immersion school.
    Ms. Beaumont, do you think the same thing?
    Yes. I want to add that, in Yellowknife, the number of students in the city in general is declining. There is a demographic decline. However, the immersion programs are the only sector in the schools where the number of students is increasing.
    All right, thank you.
    Thank you, Mr. Weston.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Ms. Ambler, you have the floor.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
     I thank all the witnesses for coming. I appreciated hearing your remarks.
    I'm curious today about the geography angle. In particular, I'd like to know a little more about the challenges of the territory and if there is anything currently in the road map that helps you address those unique challenges that you face in the north, and also in Newfoundland and Labrador.

[Translation]

    Madam, I have a few comments on your question. Do you mean the human geography or geography in the sense of territory? I can comment on both.
    I would be inclined to view your question from the standpoint of human geography as a particular characteristic of the Northwest Territories, where approximately 50% of the population is aboriginal and 50% non-aboriginal, or white. There are 11 official languages, which do not all have the same status. As for distances, we are far from everything. Virtually all communities can only be reached by air.
    It costs more than $1,000 for our president, who comes from Inuvik, to travel to Yellowknife. So distances are an extremely important factor. There is the isolation caused by the distances, but the travel costs for our representatives and volunteers are enormous. For example, it costs at least $15,000 for one weekend meeting. The situation is not the same in the major cities of other Canadian provinces.
    I believe Ms. Beaubien has something to say.
    Yes. That is why we said earlier that, when we submit a project, it costs $35,000, for transportation alone. For the youth project we have just submitted, the amount is incredible as a result of the remoteness. We need that money. Once we get the people, they have to be housed. I'm sure you are experiencing exactly the same thing.
    I don't know whether that answers your question, but I thought it was important to point that out.

[English]

    Yes. Thank you.

[Translation]

    With regard to the technical aspect, we all know that an airplane ticket is expensive. I would like to emphasize that there is no ground access to Nunavut. Transportation is by boat in summer and by cargo aircraft in winter. Everything has to be planned. The day care expansion must be planned well in advance. I find it unfortunate that we have to lower the quality of those events and services provided.
    We were talking about early childhood earlier. We must not make cuts to the quality of the services provided to children and parents. That is the point I want to make. It is fundamentally important to take our geographic situation into account in the next roadmap.

  (1000)  

[English]

    What kinds of services for children are you talking about?

[Translation]

    I am thinking, for example, about having to lower our employment standards when hiring early childhood educators to offset the high construction cost of expanding the day care centre. It's not really worthwhile to have a large day care centre if you can't offer good services. That high-cost portion must be offset by something other than a reduction in another area.

[English]

    What ratios are we looking at in your territory of children to instructor, child care provider, or day care provider?

[Translation]

    The day care centre currently has 16 spaces, I believe, and there are 2 educators.
    That's good, thank you.

[English]

    Thank you very much, Madam Ambler.
    Madam Michaud.

[Translation]

    First of all, I want to welcome all the witnesses. Thank you very much for being here.
    I also want to join my colleagues in thanking the people from the Fédération franco-ténoise and the Association des francophones du Nunavut for talking about the study on the north.
    In November, I had a chance to attend the general meeting of the Association franco-yukonnaise. So I already have some idea of northern realities. I think it would be very beneficial for all members of this committee to have more information on your situation before developing a next roadmap.
    So thank you for making that comment, and I hope your voices will ultimately be heard by this government.
    Mr. Forgues, I believe you also raised some very interesting points regarding research. We have not addressed that point enough in committee. I have a few questions for you.
     We recently heard, from The Globe and Mail, for example, about budget cuts at Statistics Canada and the consequences that could have for subsequent studies.
    Could you tell us more specifically about the effect that those cutbacks at Statistics Canada could have on official languages research?
    That will depend on the choices made by the agency. However, these are 8% cuts in addition to reduced commissions by the various departments, whose funding is also being cut.
    That could well reduce the amount of data produced by the firm. The choices made by the agency will really have to be monitored closely because, if they have an impact on major surveys on the demographic situation of the minority communities, that could be a concern.
    We know that research is a tool that the various organizations use. We need the data in order to take stock of our communities. I believe this is a concern. We really must monitor the cuts that might result from the decisions that are made.
    Thank you.
    Do you recommend that Statistics Canada be part of the government's next official language plan and that a research component also be included?
    Yes. As I mentioned, I believe Statistics Canada already plays an important role in the implementation of the last roadmap, by providing data that are essential for the work of the organizations. I believe that Statistics Canada's role should be recognized and that the agency should be an official partner in the next roadmap.
    I also believe that was the gist of the comments by the Statistics Canada representative who came and testified here. I agree with that.
    That's good.
    In your presentation, you also talked about the fact that the CIHR had abandoned its research program for the official language minority communities. Could you tell us about the direct effects that its abandonment may have on the official language minority communities?
    By creating a research program on the minority communities, it was as though the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the CIHR, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the SSHRC, were sending a message that research is legitimate.
    I submitted a project to a regular competition, that is to say one that did not concern the minority communities. In that case, we were evaluated by other anglophone or francophone researchers from Quebec who did not necessarily understand the problems of the minority communities . My application was rejected on the following grounds: why conduct research on minority health services when francophones are bilingual? I mentioned that in the brief. We have to justify ourselves. It takes only a minor objection by an evaluator for one's application to be rejected.
    When a program concerns minority communities, agencies send the message that it is legitimate to conduct research on the communities. We do not have to convince anybody. We take it for granted that the people evaluating us have understood that it is important to conduct research. They properly evaluate the projects that are submitted. This is really a way of lowering the barriers that were noted by the study of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages on research. This is one way of lowering the barriers that minority researchers face.

  (1005)  

    Thank you very much.
    How much time do I have left?
    You have 30 second left.
    I'm going to ask a brief question. You mentioned the effects of the cost of living and manpower mobility in the northern communities. What would you recommend to the government on this topic? I would like to have a brief answer from the two associations.
    Given the high costs, we should avoid making cuts elsewhere in order to develop a project in another place, as Mathieu said.
    Here we are talking about cuts to already available funding. That means that, if available services are reduced, the finished product will definitely be less appealing. Vitality will therefore be undermined
    Ms. Beaubien or Mr. Provencher, do you have anything to add, briefly?
    I think early childhood is an important player. The community centre would do an enormous amount of good in promoting community, a sense of belonging. That could have an enormous impact on staff retention. French-language health services are another aspect that counts for a lot. If you have only one child, that's fine, but when you have two, you have to multiply by two. So decisions have to be made.
    I understand because I come from a family with three children.
    Thank you.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Menegakis, you have the floor.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[Translation]

    Good morning and welcome. Thank you for your testimony.
    My first question is for the representatives of the Fédération franco-ténoise, the Association des francophones du Nunavut and the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador.
    Your organization has received funding from the roadmap program. Can you tell us about your organization's programs that have been strengthened as a result of that funding? I am speaking to all three organizations.
    Ultimately, the basic funding granted to the community organizations of the Northwest Territories is approximately $600,000 a year, and it is supplemented by ad hoc projects. Core funding makes it possible to maintain a minimum level of community infrastructure to support the activities designed to provide services to the community, whether it be for youth, seniors, immigration, health or something else. A minimum human resource and organization level is required to maintain the community vitality of a network. Beyond that, the infrastructure put in place over time has consisted of schools, day care centres, the college I talked about earlier, the continued existence of the radio station and a newspaper, despite a very small number of people. That is essential.
    In response to your question, sir, I would like to comment on the impact that human resource retention and turnover have had on our governance capability. We do not always evaluate the consequences of the fact that the administrative staff and volunteers of our organizations change regularly. That requires a very significant degree of governance support and virtually constant or continual training. Every year, there are new people around our tables and taking over the leadership of community development. Our ties with the communities and government organizations have to be re-established regularly. Federal officials experience the same thing.
    I have witnessed the change in resources at Canadian Heritage every year or every other year for the past eight years. Those people are also facing the challenge of taking charge of themselves as a community.
    From a community management standpoint, constantly training people to take charge of themselves as a community is an enormous challenge.

  (1010)  

    Thank you.
    Ms. Chartrand or Mr. René, what is your situation?
    As a result of the roadmap, the AFN is able to pay the salaries of our management staff and of the people who organize activities. That makes it possible for our small community to develop fully in French. As Mr. Provencher just explained, without that, it is hard to continue activities. Without money, there is no management, no activities. It is difficult to achieve the roadmap's objectives since there are no unifying events. No sense of belonging is being created among the francophones in our community. People will not demand French-language services or speak French because they don't know those kinds of services are offered.
    How is it with you, Mr. Corbineau?
    I won't repeat everything my colleagues have said, but the two answers they have just given reflect our situation to a great extent. The roadmap has definitely made it possible to achieve a lot of progress in recent years. Since 2008, a major organization, our provincial community radio station, has been put in place. I won't describe the history of the past 40 years. The situation has evolved with regard to early childhood and our schools. Our health system is making a greater effort to make people aware of health care, and we have all our sectoral organizations.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Benskin, you have the floor.
    Thank you and welcome.
    I am a new member to the committee and I'm going to make a brief comment in English because it's less elegant when I speak French.

[English]

     There is something I'm picking up on and something I want to throw out there.

[Translation]

    I am talking about what Mr. Forgues said.

[English]

    It's on his request to do a study, and being asked why he needed to do a study, because French people are bilingual.

[Translation]

    In general, we are not just talking about language.

[English]

     There were certain comments made by a couple of groups about raising their children in a French milieu.

[Translation]

    That's culture, whether it be in Quebec or outside Quebec.

[English]

    It's a question of retaining that culture and all the things that surround the culture—the language being the central aspect.
     I'm going to put it out there and say that we need to think about this less as simply a language issue but more as a cultural issue.

[Translation]

    Today, 97% of people under 35 in Quebec's anglophone communities are perfectly bilingual.

[English]

    There is still a desire to hang on to the Quebec anglophone culture within that community. I'm picking up the same sorts of desires from the north in particular—and I'm sure in Newfoundland as well—to not only develop and hold on to the language but to develop the culture, which I'm sure is unique to the north itself.
    As this committee continues, this is something we need to hang on to. This is not simply a question of language; it is a question of culture.

  (1015)  

[Translation]

    A few of you talked about the community radio station and communications in the north. I come from the cultural world. If possible, I just want to extend the discussion to include the role of community radio.
    I would also like to know whether the cuts to CBC/Radio-Canada are having an effect on your northern communities.
    Your question is very broad, sir. I agree with you on the correlation between language and culture. When you talk about one, you are talking about the other. The organization of a community and sharing the land are part of the same phenomenon.
    When you associate the roadmap with the development of a culture in a given community where numbers are small, such as the north, that means that a community has the means to establish a development plan. For example, the roadmap made it possible to produce an overall development plan in the Northwest Territories from 2008 to 2010. That plan gave us tools to establish partnerships with the other communities living in the same territory as us. They of course gave us the means to develop as organizations, but also to develop francophone and bilingual businesses. We also developed ties with the other aspects of the community.
    As for radio and the media, we could talk about that for a long time. For example, if we never hear a francophone voice when we turn the radio on in the morning, we don't feel at home. People who want to live in the Northwest Territories for a long time need to see themselves reflected on Radio-Canada, for example. They need to see their reality from time to time.
    It has already been mentioned that the election in the Northwest Territories was overlooked three or four years ago. There was nothing about it on Radio-Canada. And yet a territorial government was elected in the Northwest Territories.
    So the role of the media is essential for us to feel connected to the rest of our country.
    All right, thank you.
    I'm sorry, Mr. Benskin, but you are out of time.
    Mr. Williamson now has the floor.

[English]

    Before I begin, I have a kind of side point that follows on Mr. Bélanger's comments, I suppose.
    I recognize there is a lot of pressure. I hope you won't break this up so that we have two sessions of an hour each. I find when you do that it doesn't give members of this side—and I expect with the official opposition it's the same—time to properly ask questions of an individual we might want to focus on.
    I hope you will keep that in mind as you move forward.

[Translation]

    Welcome and thank you for being here today.
    I have a quite simple question: why are child care services and early childhood services important for you as representatives of minority francophone groups? I would really like to know why these programs are important for you.
    I ask the question because there was an election six years ago and there were two ideas on the subject at that time. This may be a simple matter for you, but our government had a program. The former government had promised a program of 15 to 20 years, but it never implemented it because it was defeated. So I would like to know why it's important for you.

  (1020)  

    I will make a brief comment, sir. The day care centres make it possible to fill the school and to attract families to the francophone school. Filling the school means retaining families for a longer period of time and guaranteeing greater stability in the community. That's the first factor, but I want to leave my colleagues time to respond because time is limited.
    I agree with Mr. Provencher. How long would people with children who have settled in our communities stay if it was impossible for their children to grow up and develop in French? They would not stay very long. So this gives families who settle in our territory access to health services for children, to day care and French-language school. This gives the community some stability, which is important. It creates a stronger community.
    That's definitely the case for the day care centres, but why is it necessary for early childhood? That's the real question. In my opinion, language is something you learn at home. Why are early childhood programs important?
    They're important because there are a lot of exogamous unions in the north. When one partner speaks English, it is important for the child to have the tools to grow up and have an education in French.
    Thank you.
    Personally, I believe that early childhood is really the foundation of our francophone communities. All of us here live in regions where the vast majority is anglophone. In spite of all our efforts, our children do not necessarily have a lot of opportunities to develop in French outside the school system. This is an important factor in giving them this foundation of their francophone culture and identity, which they will be able to retain later on. These young people start out in English from a very early age, English is not a problem for them, but it will be much more difficult for them to rise to the same level in French later on.
    This is readily apparent in the French-language primary schools. It is very easy to determine which students have grown up in a francophone system. They already speak perfect French and, in many cases, English as well. Children who have not spent a lot of time in that kind of system have enormous problems. They are years behind from an educational standpoint, since they have a very poor, even non-existent base in French.
    That's very good.
    At what age do early childhood programs start?
    Today, our services start at the age of two. Ideally they should start at birth. As a result of the way society is evolving, mothers want to resume their professional careers as soon as possible.
    What is the role of the parents?
    You're right; parents have a major role to play in education. They have to speak the language as much as possible, particularly when they live in a majority anglophone environment. They must not forget to speak the language. Our organizations are working on this kind of awareness.
    In addition, as my neighbour mentioned earlier, there are a lot of exogamous couples. So English is always very much present, in the family, with the parents and the grandparents. English is really very much present.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Dionne Labelle, you have the floor.
    Good morning, and thank you for being here.
    This is the first time I have spoken in this committee. So I apologize to the other participants if my questions concern certain issues that have already been raised in the previous 36 meetings. Unlike Mr. Forgues, I haven't had the opportunity to read all the minutes.
    I'm going back to two recommendations that were made to us. One comes from Mr. René and the other from Mr. Custodio. Mr. René talked about the consultation process in the evaluation of the roadmap, and Mr. Custodio about the opaque manner in which funding is monitored and the slowness of the process.
    Do you believe the local communities had a sufficient role to play in implementing the roadmap and determining objectives? Is there something that could be improved in that area?
    I saw that we were consulted when two documents were produced: the report on northern francophone communities and another on the portrait of official language minorities in Canada, which provides a picture of our situation in remote regions. Now I am not familiar enough with the issue to know whether we were consulted on the definitions of the roadmap. As was said earlier, that requires a little more transparency and better communication. That 's all I can say on the subject.

  (1025)  

    Mr. Custodio, did you play a sufficient role in setting priorities for the allocation of funding and monitoring of that allocation?
    I have not been involved for a long time, but I do not believe so.
    I'm going to hand over the floor to Mr. Custodio, who also addressed the topic.
    Under our collaboration agreements with Canadian Heritage, we have to submit a very specific accounting to say where the money goes. It's quite rigorous. When we receive money under the roadmap, we do not really know how much we are receiving. We do not know how much money is invested in the schools or school boards. We cannot determine how much money is invested or whether it really goes to the minority communities.
    What do you suggest to improve that monitoring?
    We would like it to be done, but we cannot go and knock on that provincial government's door and tell it that's what we want. The federal government should put pressure on the provincial government and tell it that it is receiving money from transfers and that it must move in that direction. Is it doing that? That's what we would like to know. Since this is public money, we should have access to the information so that we can know where that money is being spent and whether it is being spent in the right place.
    All right, thank you.
    Now I'm speaking to the representatives of the Fédération franco-ténoise. The federal government wanted to transfer buildings. I believe that you were involved in that issue and that matters could be improved. Can you tell us about your experience in that issue?
    I'll try to take just three or four minutes.
    This committee saw what you called the minuscule house in which our offices are located in Yellowknife. I believe it was Mr. Blaney, your predecessor, Mr. Chair, who called it a minuscule house.
    We have said for years that we need community infrastructure, and that is acknowledged by Canadian Heritage, in particular. A recent experience made it possible for us to help improve one of the aspects of the system. One item of government infrastructure, the post office, was for sale. We offered to purchase it for $1.2 million and it was sold for $1.1 million. Our offer was conditional on the sale of our house. It was quite normal for us to set that condition as well as another condition, that funding be more or less guaranteed by Canadian Heritage. As we had added conditions and the other purchaser had made an unconditional offer, probably of $1.1 million, we did not get it.
    I want to thank the Commissioner of Official Languages before this committee for analyzing what happened in that matter. His office recommended that the Treasury Board Secretariat examine the policy on the sale of surplus federal government buildings. Certain groups are given priority under a policy on the sale of surplus buildings. The Commissioner of Official Languages suggested that the Treasury Board introduce an element, not in a consultation mechanism such as that contained in the mid-term roadmap evaluation, but in a policy establishing that, when there is a priority need for the community, the Treasury Board could recognize that fact and instruct all departments to consider the community first.
    That would be invaluable because other buildings will become vacant in Yellowknife and our problem has not yet been solved. We are still in a minuscule house.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Gourde, you have the floor.

  (1030)  

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    My question is for the federations and associations. Earlier you said that francophones stayed in the territories for two and a half to five years. That's fine.
    Have you put in place any initiatives to welcome new francophones arriving in the territories, in Newfoundland and Labrador or Nunavut? We know that these are often young workers who have specialized jobs in certain fields.
    When francophones arrive, they are somewhat lost. We know that the francophone community isn't very big. It is also widely dispersed.
    Do you welcome them through initiatives? What happens in the first six months? Can the measures included in the roadmap help in that respect?
    In fact, we have put reception mechanisms in place. Eight out of 10 people who live in the Northwest Territories come from somewhere else. There are a lot of migrants. There are immigrants and also migrants. So new people are constantly arriving.
    The reception mechanisms are often associated with the fact that we are established. We advertise ourselves. We are on our radio stations, in our newspaper and in the community at large. We are at the chamber of commerce and at city hall for important meetings. We raise the flag in town during the Semaine de la francophonie. We have a certain vitality. That is one of the first signs of hospitality.
    The other sign is arts and culture. Francophone artists come from time to time when the roadmap makes it possible, for example, to invite a singer, a theatre company, musicians and people who go into the schools to give talks on how to write books and so on. A number of fields in arts and culture can be involved in building a community where one senses that there are development resources.
    More specifically, there is also housing assistance, assistance in obtaining documents, even if it's only social insurance cards or health insurance cards. I believe that was the gist of your question.
    As you are also very much part of the economic vitality of the territories, we know that a lot of jobs will be available in future. Are you recruiting from the francophone communities in order to attract francophones to your regions?
    I didn't hear the question.
    The question concerns recruitment.
    In health, for example, we were at the University of Montreal a few months ago, together with representatives of the territorial government, to recruit francophone health professionals. We took part in recruitment campaigns with Destination Canada. I believe that was in Paris and Brussels. So we have something of an international presence and we go through the media to advertise the tourist attractions of the north, for example. That's one way of bringing in people. I'm not just talking about the community, but I'm really talking about the attractions of the north, for both anglophones and francophones. So we really play a role in attracting people to jobs in the north, so that people will live there for a while and experience the north.
    From a business standpoint, is it possible for francophone entrepreneurs to break through in the Northwest Territories, or is it really more difficult as a result of the language barrier?
    The Northwest Territories are a world of incredible wealth. You no doubt know about the situation regarding the diamond mines. You are aware that there are oil and natural gas in the north. So there's an enormous amount of information circulating. The mines attract a lot of people. They are very highly paid employees. They are currently more concentrated in Alberta because mining is very active there, but there is also mining in the Northwest Territories and the economy has strengthened. It dipped in 2008-2009, but now it has recovered and there is a real economic attraction. Entrepreneurs have been visiting, as Ms. Beaubien could tell you.
    That's precisely what I wanted to say. Very recently, 14 entrepreneurs came from Quebec.
    Sir, I will try to be brief because I know your time is limited. Earlier you talked about how to attract newcomers. I'm going to focus solely on newcomers from outside Canada.
    There is currently something very paradoxical about the roadmap. Citizenship and Immigration Canada provides our organization with funding for a settlement program. That program does not enable us to help temporary residents. That's paradoxical because people are in greatest need when they get off an airplane. It's not when they have obtained permanent resident status after one year—if they have done that quickly— that they are in greatest need of our services, but when they get off the airplane.
    Right off the bat, we are unable to provide that service when they most need it, but, in addition, that same federal department gives us funding to recruit outside the country. We talked about Destination Canada. For years now, this has been a job fair in Europe that operates very well and that is of enormous assistance to us in recruiting francophones for our communities who come with a job. We receive funding to recruit them, we recruit them, and once they have set foot on Canadian soil, we can no longer do anything for them; we are allowed to do that. We have to wait until they have a permanent visa, one year, a year and a half or two years later, before we can help them again, but they no longer need us at that point. If it's someone who is living with a family, we risk losing them. That person may turn to anglophone institutions or schools because it's easier to do so. That's someone who will not as readily become a part of our communities.
    The roadmap has a role to play in helping us help francophone newcomers from the moment they get off the plane.

  (1035)  

    Thank you.
    Mr. Godin, you have the floor.
    I would like to talk about consultations. We're talking about the roadmap. After December, the government announced to us that this committee would be conducting consultations. We are going to try to clarify the consultations issue. This isn't our mandate, and we reject this.
    Have your communities been consulted regarding the next roadmap? Did the government meet with you to determine what you would like to see in the roadmap, what is good and what is not? I would like to get answer from each of you. Were you consulted?
    Over the years, we have taken part in surveys of results achieved obviously with the help of the funding organizations.
    I am not talking about how the money was spent in the past. Were you consulted for the next roadmap?
    I'm going to make a connection with the study conducted by the Canadian Institute of Research on Linguistic Minorities on the revitalization of three Canadian territories, which was funded by Canadian Heritage and the Commissioner of Official Languages between 2008 and 2010 or in 2008 and 2009. We saw the findings of that study, the content of which is magnificent. It runs to 135 pages and is based on information that resulted in broad consultations. It might be useful to your committee in providing content for its analyses.
    Then would you say that the government consulted you for the next roadmap?
    It paid for a study that cost $200,000. In my opinion, we had the opportunity to offer our comments and suggestions on our situation in a fairly significant manner. That does not mean that it was based solely on the roadmap.
    I'm just talking about the roadmap. We are not talking just about the community. This is a study on the roadmap. I would like to know whether you were consulted regarding the roadmap.
    I'm going to take the floor as the new manager of the AFN. I'm going to say no and hand the floor over to Mylène.
    I agree. I don't believe so, no.
    And you, Mr. Forgues?
    From what I remember, the institute was consulted the last time when the first roadmap was being developed with Mr. Lord. Since then, there has been no further consultation regarding a new roadmap.
    You mean the one that was held in camera?
    Yes.
    Thank you.
    And you, Mr. Corbineau?
    Not as far as I know, no.
    Although I have recently taken up my position, no, absolutely not.
    To your knowledge, you were not consulted on the roadmap.
    Let's go back to early childhood. Mr. Williamson believes that this is the responsibility of parents, if the child is less than one year old. I do not know from what age of the child he believes that others should take part in that. However, we are talking about day care centres, about parents who work and who are not at home. Even if the child is under one, one year old, or is two years old, his or her working parents need a day care centre.
    He is saying that there are two ways of thinking: that of the Conservatives and that of the Liberals. The Conservatives have proposed $100 per child, but that amount is taxable, and therefore reduced by half. That's like saying that it costs $100,000 to construct a building, but that you subtract $50,000 after the fact. It's the same for the $100 per child, which is taxable. Would that money not be better invested in day care centres?
    We conducted a study after travelling across the country and met with the communities. We were told, for example, that if there is a francophone day care centre in the region, parents are inclined to send their children to that centre as soon as they are old enough and it is possible for them to attend French school. If there are no francophone day care centres, they will send their children to an anglophone facility. Here we're talking about francophones outside Quebec. There is a great risk of losing those children since they will be spending more time with adult anglophones. The parents feel that, for the welfare of their children, they will send them to an English school rather than a French school.
    Can you comment on my remarks?

  (1040)  

    You will have to respond briefly.
    Mr. Chair, I have a point of order.
    Go ahead, Mr. Williamson.
    I never gave my point of view. I asked some questions and asked for clarification. Furthermore, Mr. Godin does not understand the program that we announced six years ago.
    I understand it better than you, Mr. Williamson.
    I am sorry, but the amount of $500 that is returned to the government is absolutely incorrect. I didn't give my opinion; I simply wanted to know their opinion and to know why it was important from a cultural, not economic viewpoint. We had a debate on the economic aspect and your side lost six years ago.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Mr. Williamson. That is not a point of order; it's a point of debate.
    Mr. Dionne Labelle, do you want to add something?
    No, I simply wanted you to intervene. It was a question of debate and it should not have been raised.
    Ms. Beaumont, please be brief.
    You painted an accurate picture of the situation. This is what happens when you don't have the necessary tools to promote identity-building. Our children go to anglophone day care centres and subsequently will never feel the need to turn to francophone services. So we lose our clientele. I believe you painted an accurate picture.
    Mr. Forgues, you have the floor.
    Early childhood is the hobby horse of Rodrigue Landry, Executive Director of the Canadian Institute of Research on Linguistic Minorities. He has previously submitted a document to the committee because he was supposed to come in December. That document presents his entire argument and discusses the need to invest in early childhood infrastructure. If we merely invest for parents but do not build day care centres, and do not offer early childhood services, there is a risk of assimilation. You have to give parents the choice to send their children to French-language day care centres.
    Mr. Gourde, you have two minutes left.
    In closing, I would like to know one thing. Do workers arriving in Canada have young families, or are they individual workers who go back and get their families a few years later? We are putting a lot of energy into establishing day care centres, but how many young families settle with their own children and need those day care centres now?
    I can't give you the exact figures. I'm a taxi driver in Iqaluit. So I can take the pulse of what is going on in town, among all the inhabitants. That's already the reality. For example, a construction worker sees a good opportunity and comes to work in our region. Six months later, he moves in with his family and then, seeing the reality, does an about-face.
    One of the questions we were asked at an interview is whether there is a French-language day care centre. That is one of their questions. If there isn't one, they do not come.
    Are there any other comments? There are 30 second left.
    That is absolutely one of the criteria in Newfoundland and Labrador. Economic growth is making a lot of families come and settle in St. John's as a result of the oil industry. I myself am an example of that. That was one of my criteria before I moved to Newfoundland and Labrador. I already have a child.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Mr. Gourde.
    Thanks to our witnesses.
    The meeting is adjourned.
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