I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 11 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages.
The committee is meeting on its study of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the government's ability to deliver information in both official languages.
Unfortunately, because of the deferred recorded divisions in the House of Commons this afternoon, only one group of witnesses will appear. I'd like to ask right away for the committee's consent to extend this meeting until 5:50 p.m., since the technical team is available.
Are there any objections to continuing our work until 5:50 p.m.?
Thank you very much.
Madam Clerk, are there any replacements and are there any members in the room with you?
To ensure an orderly meeting, I would like to outline a few rules to follow.
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With regard to the speaking list, the committee clerk and I will do our best, as always, to maintain a consolidated order of speaking for all members, whether they are participating in person or virtually.
I would now like to welcome our witnesses to today's committee meeting and I thank them for sending us their presentations.
I would also like to invite you to send a brief directly to the clerk for the important study we are conducting. You'll have seven and a half minutes to deliver your presentation. In order to manage time, I will indicate to you when you have one minute left, and when I hold up the red card, it means your time is up. That is one of the tough parts of my job.
Without further delay, committee members, first we have Carol Jolin and Peter Hominuk from the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario, as well as Padminee Chundunsing, the chairperson of the board for the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique.
From the Quebec Community Groups Network, we have Marlene Jennings, president, and Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general.
From the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick, we have its president, Alexandre Cédric Doucet, and its executive director, Ali Chaisson.
Let's begin right away with the representatives of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario. You have seven and a half minutes, and I assume Mr. Jolin wants to begin.
Good afternoon, everyone.
To begin, I wish to thank you for your invitation to address the committee examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the government's ability to provide information in both official languages.
As you know, 2020 has been a very eventful year because of the COVID-19 crisis. First, we want to acknowledge the Government of Canada's efforts to maintain continuous and efficient communications with our network since the onset of the pandemic.
Throughout the crisis, we have worked to identify the problems faced by the Franco-Ontarian community. Alone or in partnership with other organizations, the AFO has conducted three surveys on the situations that Franco-Ontarian organizations are facing during the pandemic. We have also been monitoring the French-language services provided by both the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.
As a result of this work, today we submit to you, in both official languages, a report containing our observations during the crisis, as well as nine recommendations. This report discusses federal services only. We are currently preparing a similar report on provincial services in Ontario.
Regarding federal services, our observations concern the following areas: travellers returning to Canada; government press briefings; labelling of consumer products; funding levels for Franco-Ontarian organizations; and translation and social media presence. Before I briefly discuss each of these points individually, I would like to state the general conclusion, namely that the pandemic has heightened the urgency of modernizing the Official Languages Act. In fact, the first recommendation in our report invites the government to modernize the act and, in doing so, to take the AFO's recommendations into account.
Both the AFO and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages have noted that designated airports, as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada, have not fulfilled their language obligations when serving travellers returning to Canada. Airports designated to provide bilingual services failed to serve their customers in both official languages, and the Public Health Agency of Canada did not provide active offer and truly equal service in its telephone monitoring of travellers in self-isolation.
Our report also notes that the AFO supports recommendation 2 contained in the report of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages on government services in times of crisis, which asks the Treasury Board to implement a crisis preparedness strategy including communications plans and procedures for every federal institution.
In our monitoring of government services, we have also observed that the Government of Canada's press briefings, especially in the early days of the pandemic, were largely limited to English, while the chief public health officer's press briefings were totally in English. In the context of a pandemic, francophones rely on the government's press briefings to stay informed about the restrictions and the best practices to follow. Those breaches could be catastrophic and a life and death situation. To ensure the equality of communications in both languages, we recommend that the Government of Canada designate the position of chief public health officer of Canada as bilingual.
Regarding press briefings, we also noted that Radio-Canada was not living up to its mandate, because the Government of Ontario's press briefings were rarely provided with simultaneous translation. Some Franco-Ontarians have told me that they are relying on Quebec government press briefings or English CBC channels to obtain information on COVID-19. Radio-Canada has rebuffed our recommendations concerning its television broadcasts, despite the fact that the service we demanded is part of the corporation's mandate. Our report therefore reiterates two recommendations drawn from our brief to the CRTC regarding the renewal of the CBC's broadcasting licence.
During the pandemic, we also observed that bilingual labelling standards were not being met. It is easy for the government to avoid its language obligations in this area, as Health Canada demonstrated on March 19 and April 27 with its directives to rescind bilingual labelling rules for certain products used to lower health risks, such as disinfectants and antiseptics. It is therefore vital that the government set out its labelling requirements within the Official Languages Act. Flouting language rights is too easy when all you have to do is to suspend part of a regulation.
The last in-depth update of the Official Languages Act goes back to pre-digital times. This means that the act is silent on concerns relating to social media.
We were taken aback when Professor Stéphanie Chouinard stated on November 26 that 80% of the Government of Canada's social media communications during the pandemic were in English. This is far from true equality of service. The Government of Canada should seize the opportunity that modernizing the Official Languages Act would provide to ensure true equality of French and English in social media communications.
There are also problems in the area of translation. The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages has received a number of complaints regarding the lack of communications or services in both official languages, as well as language-of-work rights. We wish to express our support for the Commissioner's first recommendation on this issue, which includes creating an express translation service, among other measures.
I will conclude with this final observation about problems that predate the pandemic, but have greatly impacted our organizations in recent months. Franco-Ontarian organizations are chronically underfunded compared to similar organizations across the country, and this has greatly weakened our network during the pandemic. Ontario is home to 55% of Canada's francophone population and one-third of francophone non-profit organizations outside of Quebec. Yet Ontario's share of the federal funding provided to francophone community organizations outside of Quebec is only 23%. The pandemic has amplified the impact of this underfunding. Our studies show that approximately 10% of our Franco-Ontarian organizations are confronting a critical situation that could force them to close down in the near future.
Like many others, our network has been shaken and weakened by COVID-19. However, we were already weakened by years of underfunding, and that has become all the more obvious during the pandemic. It is important that the federal government move to correct immediately the inequality of funding between provinces, without penalizing other province's communities in any way.
I thank you, members of the committee, for your attention and consideration.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, members of the official languages committee, good afternoon.
Former committee members who came to meet with us in Vancouver already know me, so hello again to those members. To introduce myself to the new members of the committee, my name is Padminee Chundunsing, and I am the chairperson of the board of the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique.
Thank you for the invitation to share some lived experiences in terms of what's happening on the ground in our province.
Let's begin with the Department of Canadian Heritage. Last March, as soon as the lockdown measures were introduced and the consequences of those measures became apparent, especially within our cultural and social organizations, Minister Joly and Canadian Heritage officials stepped up very quickly to explain that funding would not be interrupted and that events could be postponed to later dates without the risk of penalties. This gave our member organizations some temporary breathing room. That said, the closure of child care centres and other services that allowed our associations to free up funds to complement the grants left our members in a fragile state in the long term.
I'd like to discuss federal government communications. The health care situation in British Columbia was quickly turned upside down. The government that has neither legislative nor linguistic obligations, in other words the British Columbia government, communicated more information in French than the federal government, which is bound by the Official Languages Act.
However, we are under no illusions about that advantage, since it's more a reflection of the fact that our Minister of Health is also our Minister of Francophone Affairs. We would like to commend Adrian Dix's work and determination in both roles. There has been no indication that the rest of the provincial government and the administrative apparatus are at all inclined to significantly and permanently improve the use of French in their communications.
The lack of information from the federal government had considerable repercussions for francophone organizations and citizens, particularly those in precarious situations, as it was difficult to access information and services that were not directly related to health.
As for information on federal government assistance programs, it was available in French, but very inconsistently. Some people got everything they needed, while others were told that those services were not available in French. On that point, some Service Canada users told us that services in French in central Vancouver, a designated bilingual area, were no longer available.
After investigating and contacting the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, which supported us in our efforts, we learned that officials did not think it was important to reopen services in French. We therefore wrote to , along with Ms. Joly and Mr. Duclos, informing them of the situation and requesting that French services be restored. We know how important Service Canada is in applying for the Canada emergency response benefit and EI. Our complaint has gone unanswered to this day, and we continue to receive conflicting information on the availability of services in French.
For example, we heard from one of our members that roughly 40% of francophone women in lockdown with an abusive partner who took part in a survey had not used the support services, not knowing that they were available.
Francophone immigrants appear to have been more affected than the rest of the population. We've heard of people going to the Centre of Integration for African Immigrants for assistance in completing their EI applications, because they could not get help in French from Service Canada.
Many French-speaking African families with low incomes in normal times found themselves unemployed when COVID-19 struck. As schools closed and classes moved online, kids from those families couldn't attend classes properly because they didn't have computers or an adequate Internet connection to keep up with all online classes. Francophone schools couldn't afford to provide a computer to every student or a high-speed Internet connection to the families.
Francophone immigrant families often use interpretation services for medical consultations. With the lockdown, consultations were held online and interpretation became difficult. Many francophones couldn't consult their doctors because of this.
At the community level, there was confusion about who does what. This translated into absurd situations where provincial civil servants and agency staff on the ground refused to engage with francophones, explaining that the federal government subsidized all our needs.
The shortcomings related specifically to the pandemic and its aftermath combine with other more common shortcomings in British Columbia: the lack of bilingual communication at airports. The lack of bilingual security and border services officers and the minimum number of bilingual employees mean that service is interrupted any time those employees are not on duty.
We must also add the general misunderstanding at best, and hostility at worst, of local federal public servants regarding language obligations.
The pandemic has created a particularly difficult situation for francophone immigrants in transition between two immigration statuses. Just at our federation for example, we had to lay off two employees who had reached the end of their work permits and were waiting for their francophone mobility status or permanent residence. Our coordinator was supposed to receive permanent residence on June 15, 2020, and finally got it at the end of September. During those long months, it was very difficult to get up-to-date and relevant information in French. It was even harder to reach an agent. On top of those two specific cases, we heard many stories of people losing their jobs as a result of losing their status. Given the cost of living in the Vancouver urban area, they were forced to leave the country.
The pool of francophone candidates in our province is pretty small, so it is crucial that our organizations be able count on the skills of people already in those positions and not risk losing them because of delays in processing their immigration files.
To wrap up, although the Department of Canadian Heritage moved very quickly to support the community and ease its concerns, communication and assistance from other federal departments were chaotic and sporadic. Our federation shares the FCFA's view that linguistic management during the pandemic proves once again that in order to ensure that francophones are treated as second-class citizens, the Official Languages Act must be modernized and given more teeth, otherwise we will be faced with inconsistent, potentially humiliating and certainly dangerous situations regarding public health and safety.
Thank you, and good afternoon, members of the committee.
My name is Marlene Jennings, and I am the newly elected president of the QCGN. I am here with our director general, Sylvia Martin-Laforge.
For those new to the committee, the Quebec Community Groups Network, QCGN, is a not-for-profit organization linking many organizations and stakeholders across Quebec. We identify, explore, and address strategic issues affecting the development and vitality of the English-speaking community of Quebec.
On March 16, Quebec imposed a first lockdown as the pandemic was spreading across the province. As time passed and the situation worsened, Quebecers were being reassured by daily briefings from the and the premier. We would like to especially applaud Premier Legault’s example of delivering messages and responding to media questions in English during each of his press briefings.
The Commissioner of Official Languages conducted a survey about official languages and emergency situations. The results of his questionnaire noted that 89% of English-speaking Quebeckers indicated that it was important to hear and see their political leaders speak in their preferred official language during emergency situations. The decision by the leadership of both levels of government to provide news and reassurances in both official languages was very helpful.
During the week of March 30, a French version of a 24-page printed COVID “Self-care Guide” began to arrive in Quebec mailboxes. On page 2 of this document, there was a message stating that an English copy of the document could be accessed at a specific website. The only problem was that the message was in French. Over the next several weeks, the availability of this English online guide was communicated...online.
Although we are a highly bilingual community, seniors and other vulnerable English-speaking Quebeckers are the least likely to be able to speak French or have access or ability to access the Internet.
Where is Charlie?
Through the QCGN's advocacy efforts, the Government of Quebec did mail out 800,000 English versions of the guide to Quebec taxpayers who had previously requested to receive their Revenu Québec documents in English. These guides began arriving in English households in June. Inserts of the guide also went into major English newspapers, along with ads explaining how to access online information. However, by the time this was happening, we were coming off the first peak of COVID. For many, this information was too late.
Critical information during a public health emergency must be distributed through multiple channels in as many languages as possible—including and especially in a widely used language like English—at the beginning of an emergency to ensure the widest possible penetration across the population. This is especially true during a pandemic. You know as well as we do that viruses aren't interested in the language of their victims. There is a public interest in making sure everyone receives timely information.
When issues related to health and safety are at risk, the Charter of the French Language does not restrict public communications in a language other than French. The Government of Quebec is obligated to communicate in both languages when the health and safety of Quebeckers is in peril. Not doing so threatens the health and welfare of Quebeckers, and in terms of the pandemic exacerbated the virus spreading.
The interpretation and dissemination of safety information during a national emergency like the pandemic must be an area of co-operation between the federal and provincial governments. There must be common messaging, and this messaging—
Mr. Dubourg, committee members, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
My name is Alexandre Cédric Doucet. I am the president of the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick, the organization that represents Acadians and francophones in the province of New Brunswick. Here with me today is Mr. Ali Chaisson, the executive director of the SANB.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to speak to you today as a representative of the 20,000 members of my organization and, by extension, approximately 235,000 francophones living in the only officially bilingual province in the country, or the ROC for short.
I want to express my sincere thanks for your invitation to appear before your committee as it examines the modernization of the Official Languages Act in the midst of a pandemic. This is important, because the last time the act was revised in 1988, parliamentarians seemed to have forgotten New Brunswick. The SANB is here to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
I will not begin my speech today by talking about the Expulsion of the Acadians, although the Royal Proclamation of 2003, signed by Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada and her Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, recognized the harm done to Acadians in 1755, a tragic milestone in the building of Canada. However, it is with the weight of my nation's entire history that I would like to begin my presentation by drawing a very clear line in the sand:
I am Acadian; I am Canadian to the extent that Canada helps me remain Acadian.
Those are not my words; they belong to one of Acadia's greatest nation builders, the late Father Léger Comeau, a former president of the Société nationale de l'Acadie. That quotation very succinctly and accurately summarizes the SANB's perspective on the underlying nature of the special, sometimes colourful, relationship that exists between the Acadian nation and the Canadian government in relation to the social contract represented by all official languages laws, policies and regulations.
Committee members, I am 26 years old. In preparation for my presentation here today, I read several documents published by the SANB over the years, including briefs written by eminent Acadians who have worked for the SANB or served as its president before me, some of whose names are probably familiar to you, such as Michel Bastarache and Michel Doucet.
My predecessors went the distance in terms of exploring the legal complexities, the political calculations, the analyses of the causes and effects of this or that decision, of this or that amendment to the act, the choice of words, even the weight of omissions. Putting myself in their shoes, I am overcome with weariness and disappointment. What is all this for? So much work over the past 50 years, only to come to such a troubling conclusion: We are still asking for the same thing. The Official Languages Act lacks teeth, and Canada's elected officials have failed in their duty to official language minorities.
Here is what one of my predecessors had to say in the SANB brief presented in September 1975 to the working group on French-language minorities:
Had it not been for the programs developed by the federal government to ensure the recognition of French, New Brunswick would never have become bilingual. However, bilingualism is not an end in and of itself. It is merely a necessary evil. What is important to remember is that Canada has francophone communities of various sizes, and they want to remain what they have always been; in other words, they want to stay francophone. These communities will remain francophone with or without Canada. If it is with Canada, it will be within a bilingual Canada, where the two official linguistic elements of the country enjoy real, complete and absolute rights.
In today's context, in this era of rhetoric and sparse, wait-and-see actions, I can't help but notice that these statements still resonate today, 45 years later, and express how determined the Acadian people are to persevere in their existence and their specificity.
That said, at the rate things are going, I truly have to wonder whether my future grandchildren will be forced to come back here before this same committee in 50 years' time to make the same demands.
Will they finally see a modernized Official Languages Act that lives up to the aspirations of our great country? Will they still be Canadians? Worse still, will they be assimilated into the majority language?
As Acadian writer Rino Morin Rossignol put it:
While all the beautiful people in the Parliament of Canada and the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick are racking their brains to come up with ways to give the impression that they care about the rights of Canada's francophone population, assimilation will continue merrily on its way, as usual.
Ladies and gentlemen, I almost forgot that we are here to talk about official languages in the context of COVID-19.
Here is an example that speaks volumes. At the beginning of the pandemic, the minister responsible for official languages in New Brunswick, none other than Premier Blaine Higgs, whose command of French is limited to say the least, refused to appoint a francophone or bilingual spokesperson to address Acadians in their language at his daily press conferences. He even demanded that a Radio-Canada journalist ask her question in English, which was vaguely criticized by New Brunswick's Commissioner of Official Languages, who prefers a minimalist, even lax, interpretation of the government's official language obligations. Unfortunately, French remains a translated language, a language of accommodation.
Despite all the laws and political institutions in place, the tragic reality is that our government couldn't speak to us in our language, an official language, even during the worst health crisis of the last 100 years. Many Acadians changed stations to listen to François Legault's press briefings to get information in French. The others had no choice but to practice their English.
Is that the best way to fight assimilation in Canada? Has the very notion of fighting assimilation become so taboo, suppressed by the shame felt by the Canadian government given its poor record of defending and promoting French? Will denial be the saving grace of our public policies on official languages, by inoculating them against the outrage of this all-time low?
I appeal to your courage and your duty as elected officials. The future is taking shape right now. We are truly at a crossroads, and it's up to you to decide what direction this great Canadian project will take.
I want to thank all the witnesses.
Your remarks and your accounts illustrate the reality facing minorities, especially during this pandemic.
As an MP from British Columbia, I want to thank Padminee Chundunsing for her efforts and the work done by the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique. I am very grateful to them.
You said several things, and we heard your frustration. You referred to the federal government's response as shocking, sporadic, humiliating and dangerous. Here, the Vancouver area is supposed to be a bilingual area.
It's easy to say, but during this pandemic, it became very clear that that is merely symbolic. Francophone immigrants were put in a very difficult situation. They got the short end of the stick.
Do you think modernizing the Official Languages Act could have helped us during this pandemic?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I will be sharing my time with my colleague, Mr. Arseneault.
I'd like to thank our guests for agreeing to appear before this committee.
In the early days of the pandemic, it became apparent how vital it was to disseminate information through the 's daily press briefings to get relevant information out to Canadians. You've all referred to this in various ways.
Some of you, including Mr. Jolin for example, talked about the challenges we faced here in Ontario. Ontario has the largest pool of francophones outside Quebec. I was very disappointed because, as a federal MP, I received many complaints about the lack of availability. It took more than a month before we got press briefings in French. In terms of health and safety, it was up to the provinces to provide that information.
I congratulate Mr. Legault. As some of you pointed out, he respected the anglophone minority in Quebec by ending his press briefings in English.
My question is for you, Mr. Jolin.
The pandemic has taught us to work with other tools, like the ones we're using this evening to meet virtually. I know not everyone has access to these technologies. I'd like to hear your point of view. How could we use today's technology to improve the delivery of services in French, at the federal level, but also at the provincial level? I would like to hear your recommendations, which I strongly support.
Thank you for the question.
The report from the Commissioner of Official Languages suggests creating an express translation service. It's important to note that with today's technology, you can have three or four people working together on the same document, as we sometimes do at the AFO, for example. I don't see why, with the knowledge we have and with what's available, someone couldn't translate a text while someone else is composing it. I'm thinking of press releases, for example.
A good reason for this is the urgency involved. We want to produce documents as quickly as possible. I saw a presentation by the federal Translation Bureau indicating that, these days, with the technology and the quality of translation tools available, it is not necessarily translators that we need, but people who simply proofread. It's also much faster.
It's time for us to get with the program and produce documents in both official languages, in emergency and normal situations, so that we can receive communications simultaneously. As you mentioned, this is a matter of respect and public safety. We have to go that route, we have no choice, and technology allows us to do that.
Thank you, Mrs. Lalonde.
I don't have much time to ask my question and hear the answer.
I'd like to take an impartial and objective look at Acadia and New Brunswick, and specifically the youth, the next generation. Mr. Doucet, you gave an excellent speech earlier.
In 2015, when I first joined the Standing Committee on Official Languages, at the same time as Bernard Généreux, we heard exactly the same thing. In fact, the pandemic has served to accentuate the gaps and weaknesses. All the examples heard this evening speak volumes.
If modernizing the Official Languages Act could change only one thing to improve and ensure these communications in a pandemic or emergency situation, such as forest fires or flooding, for example, what would you change and why?
Thank you to all the speakers; it was very interesting. I was stunned when I heard the report from British Columbia.
My question is for Mr. Doucet from the Société nationale de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick.
You talked about the specificity of New Brunswick. The Official Languages Act was established on a kind of symmetry. In the 1988 version, while New Brunswick was given special status in the Charter, that was not reflected in the Official Languages Act.
Do you think the recognition of New Brunswick's specificity is realistic? You say the principle of “where numbers warrant” is a hindrance to Acadians. You've managed to obtain services in French in all municipalities, but you can't get them at the federal level.
Could you talk about that?
In terms of incongruity, there are different levels of scope. It might seem odd that a Canadian province, in this case New Brunswick, has official language provisions that far exceed the federal government's obligations in the same territory. That's what is meant by incongruity. It can be measured in Part IV of the Official Languages Act, the part that pertains to the delivery of services to the public. It says “where numbers warrant”. That's at the federal level. This limit does not exist in New Brunswick.
Thus, any amendment or modernization of the act should also confirm for New Brunswickers that services in both official languages should be equally accessible at the federal and provincial levels. This is just one example among many.
Taking that even further, if we talk about asymmetry, we would never be so pretentious or greedy as to use the specificity of one province's number against that of another province, knowing that the second province might have more limited language rights and not have access to the same services.
What do we think of that?
Any amendment or modernization of the federal legislation should allow all of Canada, but particularly New Brunswick because of the specificity of its provincial official languages legislation, to expedite services so that they are much more prevalent where census questions indicate that a given region is more likely to need a service, without being hindered by that very provision.
I want to thank you for your testimony and for the work you're doing.
I'd like to ask Mr. Doucet a question.
First of all, I want to thank you for your impassioned comments about the Acadians you represent. As a member who used to be younger than I am now, I want to acknowledge that your argument that the Official Languages Act has not been modernized since before you were born shows how appalling this is and how urgent it is that the act be modernized.
You clearly said you wanted the Official Languages Act to be modernized as soon as possible. We fully support that request. You emphasized that the act should be amended as soon as possible.
Mr. Doucet, you also said that Acadians had been left to their own devices from the very start. The minister's white paper is an admission of the government's failure.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on the proposed white paper, which will replace the bill to modernize the act. What do you think about that replacement?
Thank you very much, Mr. Doucet.
I'd also like to go back to a statement that Ms. Chundunsing made.
She said that the fact that British Columbia's health minister is bilingual facilitated matters. However, a country can't rely solely on the language skills of individuals; it must have mechanisms. Surely that's one of the factors that will have to be considered as part of the modernization.
I'd like to turn back to Mr. Jolin.
With regard to the pandemic study, you mentioned the inequality of funding. You say there's a large francophone population in Ontario. You also emphasized that the federal government's near chronic underfunding was causing problems and that those problems have been exacerbated during the pandemic.
I'd like you to discuss that at greater length.
My question is for Mr. Jolin and Ms. Jennings, from the Quebec Community Groups Network.
I want to ask a question about local media in the minority language communities. Linda Lauzon, from the Association de la presse francophone, made an emotional appeal to the government, which abandoned local media during the pandemic. Its local media advertising purchases have failed to offset their advertising revenue losses.
I'd like to know if that's what local media have experienced in the communities you represent. What kinds of financial problems have they experienced?
Mr. Jolin and Madam Jennings, would you like to speak to this?
I'll respond in French out of respect for Mr. Beaulieu.
We received the guide about two months after it was released in French.
It was good, although there are no established standards, and, if other documents have to be distributed again to English-speaking Quebecers, we aren't sure that will get done.
However, that's the way it is despite the fact that Quebec's Act respecting health services and social services provides for situations in which translation must be done and documents must be available in several languages, including English. It's not just in English, but in many languages. This is a crisis. It's important. People are dying. There have to be standards.
We don't have that guarantee. We can't expect associations to do the work for the government. That's not acceptable. It's absolutely necessary that a reasonable and generous government provide these services to the English-speaking community in times of crisis.
That is all the time we have for the period of questions.
Thanks to all the witnesses for participating and cooperating because we have gone beyond 5:30 p.m.
I would therefore like to thank Carol Jolin, president, and Peter Hominuk, executive director, of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario; Padminee Chundunsing, chairperson of the board of the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique; Marlene Jennings, president, and Sylvia Marint-Laforge, director general, of QCGN; and, lastly, Alexandre Cédric Doucet, president, and Ali Chaisson, executive director, of the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick.
Once again, thank you very much. Please do not hesitate to send us any other information you think may be useful.
I also take this opportunity to thank the entire technical team, analysts, the clerk and everyone at this meeting.
I wish everyone a safe trip home and good evening to you all.
Thank you for attending our meeting. Goodbye.