I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting No. 27 x of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages.
The committee is meeting for two hours today on its study on Government Measures to Protect and Promote French in Quebec and in Canada.
Just as a reminder, all comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the use of a headset with a boom microphone is mandatory for everyone participating remotely.
As you know, interpretation services are available for this meeting. You have the choice at the bottom of your screen of either the floor, English or French.
Almost all, if not all, of the witnesses are used to appearing before our committee. You know our rules.
First, I would like to welcome all our witnesses to this meeting. You will have a total of seven and a half minutes for your opening remarks, which will be followed by a period of questions. I will signal to you when you have a minute of time left for your remarks or your answer to a member. When you see a red card, that will mean your speaking time is up.
I would now like to welcome this afternoon's witnesses officially.
From the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario, we have Carol Jolin, President, Peter Hominuk, Executive Director, and Bryan Michaud, Policy Analyst.
From the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities, we have Éric Forgues, Executive Director.
As an individual, we have Rodrigue Landry, Professor Emeritus at the Université de Moncton and former Director General of the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities.
Without further ado, we will begin with the representative from the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario. I presume Mr. Jolin will be taking the floor.
Mr. Jolin, you have the floor for seven and a half minutes to make your opening remarks.
First, I'd like to thank you for inviting me to speak as part of your study on government measures to protect and promote French in Quebec and in Canada.
As our national organization, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne, or FCFA, wisely notes in its draft proposals regarding the Canadian government's commitment to protect and promote French across the country, the Government of Canada mainly promotes French in three ways: by funding the organizations and institutions of the francophone and Acadian communities; providing cash transfers to the provinces and territories for instruction in French as a first and second language and for providing French-language services; and funding official language learning in the public service.
Since I addressed Ontario's chronic underfunding of official languages during my last appearance here, I will not dwell on that issue today.
My remarks today will focus on federal transfers for postsecondary French-language instruction.
This funding is essential to our community. As you know, there is a shortage of francophone and bilingual professionals in many sectors, health and education in particular.
Postsecondary French-language education is the number one asset that will enable Ontario and the entire country to address the labour shortage.
Education is oxygen to our communities.
As you know, the Franco-Ontarian community is facing an institutional crisis, particularly in northern Ontario since the announcement that Laurentian University made on February 1 x.
Half the university's French-language programs have been cut since that announcement was made, and nearly 40 teachers in the French-language programs were laid off—in English. The position of officer responsible for recruiting foreign students for French-language programming has also been axed. The bulldozing is complete.
Bilingualism at Laurentian University has thus been annihilated.
While there is a glimmer of hope that the universities of Sudbury and Hearst can continue French-language university programming in the north, many questions remain.
How have we come to this pass? Is the funding that the Canadian and Ontario governments have provided actually being used for French-language programming and services? Or has it gone to debt repayments or to fund day-to-day operations, as would appear to be the case for part of the money earmarked for research as well as gifts from donors? I don't have the answers to these questions, nor, I would imagine, do the honourable members of this committee. I also very much doubt that the governments have them either. Laurentian University, like other minority community universities, is not required to account for funding related to official languages.
Laurentian University has not invested in francophones in the past 20 years. Since 2000, it has created 26 English-language programs, which have enabled it to increase its number of anglophone students by 2,170 this year.
Only five new French-language programs have been introduced during that same period, and they have added only 124 francophone students this year.
According to data gathered by Laurentian University's Regroupement des professeurs francophones, or RPF, on April 11, the university cut 45% of its French-language programming, but only 20% of its English offerings.
Incidentally, we are citing the Regroupement's figures here because those provided by Laurentian University have proven to be misleading.
When it comes to accountability…
Why such disproportionate cuts to French-language programs?
The Canadian and Ontario governments, as well as the Consortium national de formation en santé, or CNFS, invest more than $12 million in Laurentian University annually to support its efforts to provide high-quality French-language programming and services.
Where does that money go? We don't know.
In March, our lawyers from the Juristes Power Law firm filed a notice of motion to have the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario, or AFO, instated as an interested party in the court-supervised financial restructuring process.
The local newspaper Le Voyageur reported a few days ago that several affidavits signed by Laurentian University professors and filed in court had outlined facts that revealed the limits of the university administration's willingness to invest in French-language programs.
They referred to nonexistent efforts to recruit francophones internationally, problems in securing what are considered flagship programs on the francophone side and obstacles raised to undermine the establishment of a French-language university, but especially the lack of any decision-making power wielded by francophones at Laurentian University.
However, we are inclined to believe that the funding provided by the federal and provincial governments has helped make francophone needs count to a greater degree and to be better funded.
Consequently, as the process of modernizing the Official Languages Act begins, we feel it is essential that the act provide for new accountability models designed to ensure full transparency regarding government funding granted for this type of budget envelope.
We also consider it essential that all funding that the federal and provincial governments provide to support French-language education and services, as in the official languages in education program, for example, be withdrawn from Laurentian University as soon as possible and redirected to the University of Sudbury. The Franco-Ontarian community's trust in Laurentian University has now reached its lowest point, and the university no longer has any credibility in the community it claims to serve.
The Franco-Ontarian community's clear view is that the future of French-language university programming in northern Ontario lies with the University of Sudbury and the University of Hearst, not Laurentian University, which should transfer its French-language programs to those two institutions as soon as possible.
As you mentioned, I have been executive director of the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities, the CIRLM, since 2012. Rodrigue Landry, who is also here today, was executive director of the Institute from 2002 to 2012.
The institute was created in 2002 with funding that Canadian Heritage granted to the Université de Moncton. Its mission is to work together with its partners in conducting relevant research that can support the various stakeholders, the official language minorities and the framers of public language policy.
My presentation will focus on three points: the importance of research and data in formulating government official language action plans and developing public policy, the importance of engaging francophone populations and the need to clarify part VII of the Official Languages Act.
I will not be presenting figures or analyses to show how fragile the francophone communities are since that has been done on many occasions. We know that the communities' demographic weight is slowly declining, that the vitality of French is low in certain regions and that their institutions are fragile. We also know that there is an associative sector striving every day to combat the pressures of assimilation and that thousands of francophones and francophiles are helping to make French a living language.
What is missing, in my view, are research-based public policies. We lack any genuine official languages planning that includes clearly defined objectives and means or measurable results that are to be achieved. We must be able to measure more accurately the impact of action taken by government and francophone actors to address the communities' vitality. There must also be more transparency and accountability for the communities.
Consider, for example, the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future. That plan provides for official languages investments totalling $2.7 billion. It states: "Our new Action Plan will help Canada achieve measurable, evidence-based goals supporting the vitality of official-language minority communities and the bilingualism of Canadians."
Two measurable objectives from the action plan are presented. First, the action plan's measures are designed to stabilize the proportion of francophones in the country at 4%. Second, the aim is to work toward a target of 4.4% of all immigrants by 2023. I don't think that's enough to determine whether the $2.7 billion investment will have any real effect on the communities. Other indicators seem to be needed. I am thinking, for example, of indicators of the number of parent rights holders who send their children to French schools, educational infrastructure needs, the language young people use on social media, how they consume French-language cultural products and so on.
To live in French, young people and adults need a French-language social environment and well-established francophone institutions. They need francophone workplaces and educational spaces, childcare centres, sports, organized recreation, media and social media. They need a French-language public and media landscape. Have we analyzed the communities' sociolinguistic environment? Have we based the measures we take on those analyses? As far as I know, that has not been the case. This is one of the limits of government intervention. Government invests significant funding without basing its intervention on rigorous and precise planning that produces measurable results based on research, analysis and conclusive data. A community of researchers can assist government and the action it takes. We have extensive expertise in official languages. Many individuals, including Rodrigue Landry here, have contributed to this effort a keen understanding of the factors that influence a community's linguistic vitality.
Now I will discuss public engagement.
Canadian government intervention should increase public participation in developing government action plans for official languages and government action as a whole. Public engagement should be based on consultation activities and discussions on the needs and priorities of the communities. And it should start with communication. It is important that francophone actors and the Canadian government inform the public of progress that has been made. We are in the third year of the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future. Where do we stand today? No progress reports have been released. The government and francophone organizations must do a better job of reporting their actions and achievements to the public.
Efforts must be made to work more closely with the public, who are the first ones affected by these measures. When I say the public, I am thinking of citizens. Consultations must not be restricted to francophone professionals. I believe it is dangerous to limit consultations to organizations because an organization, by definition, will always advocate a point of view related to the very purpose of its existence, mission, objectives and so on.
Of course, there are also benefits to consulting the public because those organizations have developed expertise in their spheres of action. That expertise should not be overlooked, but there has been a tendency to overlook citizen expertise in recent years. Many experiments are being conducted around the world to involve citizens to a greater degree in the democratic life of their country. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the OECD, reveals that a wave of formal discussion is under way. Promising ideas are waiting to be explored in order to urge francophone and francophile populations to engage with the francophonie relying on their collective intelligence.
I think we should encourage the creation of citizen deliberation spaces to determine the needs and priorities of the communities and to propose ways of addressing them, but, more broadly, to determine a society-wide project for the francophonie.
In closing, I will address part VII of the Official Languages Act, which directly concerns the communities. Part VII requires the government to take positive measures to enhance the vitality of the minorities and to assist their development. It is essential that part VII be clarified in order to minimize room for interpretation. For the government, it must be construed as narrowly as possible.
As lawyer Michel Doucet has said, part VII of the act has "a remedial character" and "its purpose is not to maintain the status quo but instead to remedy the historic and gradual erosion of the rights of official language minorities."
Thank you for your attention.
Thank you for having me here today to talk to you about the Official Languages Act and the vitality of the minorities.
I intend to provide you with a survey of the views I have developed in a forthcoming publication. My presentation will be divided into three parts.
First, let's talk about the impact of the Official Languages Act on the vitality of the linguistic minorities. Our research shows that contact with government cannot be distinguished from other types of linguistic contact in the public sphere. Linguistic contacts are statistically unrelated to individual linguistic identity. Instead they are related to subjective linguistic vitality, by which I mean individuals' perception of the status and vitality of a language in society. This subjective vitality is only faintly related to the desire to belong to the minority community.
The public services that the federal government provides represent only a very small portion of linguistic experiences in the public sphere. Consequently, the Official Languages Act has little impact on individuals' language development.
We therefore come to the first sociolinguistic principle respecting the potential impact of a language law on the vitality of a minority: no language policy or law has an impact on the vitality of a minority unless it promotes the linguistic and the cultural socialization of its members. In our view, only part VII of the Official Languages Act appears, at least implicitly, to offer that potential. We will return to this point.
Now let's consider the actors who are essential to the vitality of a language. Our theoretical models reveal three essential and relatively independent actors whose roles influence the vitality of a linguistic minority: the community, the civil society of the minority and the state or government.
The first and most important essential actor is the community itself, not in its broader and impersonal sense, but as the sum of the individuals and families who constitute what researchers call the "intimate community," of which the family is the basic unit. It guarantees the intergenerational transmission of language and the foundations of individual identity.
The second essential actor is the civil society of the minority, which manages the minority's social organization. It exercises invaluable leadership in creating and maintaining the group's institutions, its "institutional completeness." The civil society also acts as an intermediary between members of the minority and the state.
The third essential actor is the state, which supports the linguistic minority's vitality by legitimizing its existence in society through policies that recognize individual and collective rights. The state delivers programs and services in the language of the minority and may fund vital institutions.
Our second principle is therefore as follows: a language policy or act has an optimal effect on the vitality of the linguistic minority when it promotes the growth of the group's collective identity and coordinates a synergistic set of concerted measures taken by the three actors essential to its vitality.
Responsibility for the coordination of and synergy among the three actors that enhance the minority's vitality falls to the state. The state is the legitimate political decision-maker and holder of power and resources. The state is in the best position to implement an effective language planning program.
Now I would like to discuss part VII of the Official Languages Act. Part VII is collective and remedial in scope and concerns the genuine equality of the two official language communities. This part of the act addresses the objective of enhancing the vitality of the minorities that the government has set, more particularly in section 41. Note that the English version of section 41 refers to "enhancing the vitality," whereas the French version contains the words "favoriser l'épanouissement."
From what I understand of the analyses conducted by the legal experts who interpret part VII of the Official Languages Act, considerable work remains to be done to clarify its object and scope. What does it mean to take "positive measures" in order "to enhance the vitality of the minorities," "to support and assist their development" and "to foster the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society"? In my view, if these ambitious aims are not reflected in specific and actual objectives regarding community vitality or in clear government responsibilities and commitments, the Official Languages Act may well be important in appearance, given its symbolic character for the country, but have no substantial impact on the actual equality of the two major linguistic communities concerned.
Revitalizing a language is an ambitious and complex undertaking. No language can be revitalized without a genuine language plan. This plan is based on an extensive and ongoing research program that guides the precise nature of priority objectives, the implementation of actions designed to achieve them and evaluations verifying their effectiveness.
Paradoxically, since Official Languages Act was amended in 2005, as a result of which part VII is now justiciable, the federal government's engagement in its five-your plans appears to have regressed, if the five-year period from 2003 to 2008 can be taken as a reference point. The first action plan for official languages, in 2003, contained several elements of a true language plan. It was based on research and set genuine priority objectives tailored to each of the official language minorities. The plans and roadmaps that followed appear to have been more the result of political compromises than genuine language plans.
Thanks as well to our eminent witnesses for making themselves available.
This is an important study for the members of this committee since we would like to expand the application of the Official Languages Act to include, dare I say it, French language minorities in North America.
My first question is for Mr. Landry.
You have conducted some extremely interesting research. You've previously spoken to us about statutory insecurity, which you have addressed in your writings. You've also presented some new information to us today.
We are, of course, examining ways to reframe the Official Languages Act for our francophone minority communities, but don't you think we should also take this opportunity to examine the decline of French in Quebec?
I'd like to have your perspective on that subject.
We've conducted research in Quebec on both francophones and anglophones. The francophone research dates back to the 1990s, whereas our last research project on Quebec anglophones goes back to 2008 or 2009. What struck me was that we observed no qualitative differences between francophones living in Quebec and francophones outside Quebec. In other words, when we study them based on a demographic profile and the vitality continuum, we see that, in a low-vitality context, they behave as minority francophones.
I must say that French is more protected in Quebec than in most other provinces. And yet the people who constitute the sector that I call the intimate community, that is, the individuals and families that constitute it, behave in the same way as people in the majority when they're in the majority and as people in the minority when they're in the minority.
We published two articles, one on francophones and the other on anglophones, and we focused on the factors in their lives that had an influence. For example, we know that the language used in public has a definite impact on subjective vitality and that the language used in private life, together with other aspects of lived experience, predict identity. The factors are the same for anglophones living in Quebec and francophones outside Quebec. They behave as a minority when they're in the minority.
However, there's a difference among Quebec anglophones. I don't think Quebec's anglophone community constitutes a threat to that province. It's the strength of English around the world, particularly in North America, that does that. You could say it's the epicentre. Researchers have drawn a planetary analogy: English is the big planet that attracts all the others. It's a very interesting model. English is now the language that everyone wants to use. You can see how people are drawn to English even in Quebec. I would note, however, that the concept of vitality applies to all groups, both francophones and anglophones in Quebec.
Thanks to the witnesses for being with us. The three presentations were very interesting.
I have a general question. When the Official Languages Act was introduced 52 years ago, didn't we start off on the wrong foot by determining that the Acadian community and the francophone communities outside Quebec were equivalent to Quebec's anglophone community?
In 1996, for example, a study by the Commission nationale des parents francophones revealed that school funding under the official languages program had benefited Quebec's anglophone schools far more than francophone schools outside Quebec. And yet anglophone schools were already overfunded relative to francophone schools.
That's what we're questioning now as we acknowledge that the French language has declined in Quebec and that the federal government is also responsible for protecting French in Quebec.
What do you think about that?
We wrote a book about a Canadian study on graduates of French-language schools and another about English-language schools. The analysis and all the data on ethnolinguistic vitality that we included in the study point to two possible scenarios. I'm not making any predictions here.
One of the potential scenarios is, on the francophone side, that, with government assistance in particular, progress can be made on plans for institutional completeness and linguistic legitimacy. That's the government's role. However, since we don't support the base, fewer and fewer people will attend French-language institutions and use the language.
On the anglophone side, our analysis points to a scenario in which people will have no problem using English because of the considerable attraction it exerts. However, as a result of the fact that Quebec strongly defends French with its Bill 101, it could lose some of the control it exercises over its own institutions and over the legitimacy of that language in Quebec.
These two scenarios are somewhat based on the strengths of each group.
I like to go back to the first presentation, which was made by the spokesperson or director of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario, because a drama is playing out as a result of radical cuts to French-language programs at the Université Laurentienne. I still call it the Université Laurentienne, not Laurentian University.
Mr. Jolin, as my Conservative colleagues noted earlier, you frequently refer to the annihilation of bilingualism and the violation of a relationship of trust. That's tough language, but I can understand why you use it.
First of all, do you think all hope is lost for that institution, and is the relationship of trust actually broken?
Second, is there a genuine possibility that the University of Sudbury may acquire some independence by taking over French-language programs, particularly the midwifery program, which is unique outside Quebec?
Thank you for your question.
That's absolutely correct: the community has completely lost trust in Laurentian University's administration. Matters were already not going very well. As I mentioned, very little effort has been made to improve French-language programming in the past 20 years. We were also told that the marketing work done to recruit francophone students was not up to snuff.
I don't know whether I discussed this earlier, but the university hired someone in 2002 to recruit anglophone students internationally. As a result, the university has regularly admitted 350 to 450 foreign anglophone students every year. It wasn't until two years ago that it hired someone to recruit foreign francophone students. That initial attempt attracted slightly fewer than 100 students. We've learned that this position was recently eliminated as part of the university's budget cuts.
As for the second part of your question, the University of Sudbury's board of regents decided on March 11 last that the University of Sudbury would become a university governed by, with and for francophones. We firmly believe that the university, which now has its charter, has a chance to continue French-language programming in the mid-north; that's essential. Otherwise there will be fewer options for students in the region, province or even other provinces who would like to come and study in French in Sudbury.
The number of options available to students in the region who want to study French has been cut. Research has been conducted on this subject, and we know that a minority of those students will go to Ottawa, Hearst or Toronto, where the Université de l'Ontario français is offering new programs. [Technical difficulty—Editor] as far as possible, and they'll have to turn to the English-language universities in order to do so. I still call that the "assimilation highway."
The University of Sudbury is well equipped to offer French-language programs to students in the mid-north. It's also well positioned to work together as part of a network with the Université de l'Ontario français in Toronto and with the University of Hearst, which is now independent because it received its own institutional charter last week.
We're also able to provide better service to students who will be completing their secondary studies and who want to study in French. The business community urgently needs young people who can speak both official languages to provide services.
Good afternoon to everyone.
I'm very pleased to be back with the committee. I' m speaking to you from Sudbury. I am less than a kilometre away from Université Laurentienne, which I could also call, as Mr. Jolin did, Laurentian University. I will not go on at great length, as my good friend Darrell Samson used to do. He was in the habit of giving a long preamble and allowing only 50 seconds for the witness to answer his question. He was a past master at this. That being said, I really do want to get to the heart of the matter.
Mr. Jolin, you spoke about accountability. But after two years away from the committee, I can see that the problem persists. It's really a big challenge. As you know, the federal government transfers funds to the provinces, which do not want to be accountable to them at all. You also mentioned that provinces transfer funds to institutions. We might well ask about the institutions' accountability to the province.
Although I completely agree with you, I am wondering what option you might suggest to us. What I'm thinking about here are the recommendations we would have to make as part of this study. It's about the decline of French across Canada. I will of course speak to you about Laurentian University when I return, but for the time being, I'd like to know what option you would like to put forward with respect to accountability.
I'd like to thank Mr. Landry, Mr. Forgues and the representatives of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario for being here with us.
I'd like to remind you that the study in progress is about measures that the government could take to protect and promote French in Quebec and in Canada.
Mr. Jolin, I'd like to begin with you, because I found your presentation very interesting.
My colleague Mr. Lefebvre spoke about accountability. In your presentation, you said that you had serious doubts about the appropriate use of the amounts contributed by the federal and provincial governments, and that perhaps is where the heart of the matter lies.
Today, we've been speaking about Laurentian University, where decisions were probably based more on interest in the development and preservation of the institution. I don't feel that the University wants to promote and protect French. That is not its mandate. Perhaps it should be, but it isn't.
The federal government has its responsibilities and the provincial government has its as well. Each organization has different missions and objectives. Of course, institutional administrators are playing for time to stay alive. They see opportunities and hand out money, and student fees also generate revenue.
We're talking about Laurentian University today, but Ms. Risbud, who came to speak to us about Campus Saint-Jean in Alberta, told us last week that the spending by the various governments on education had not increased for 20 years.
Wouldn't it be possible for organizations like yours, which exist elsewhere in Canada too, to take on the specific mandate of performing a watchdog role to ensure that the financial contributions are used to good effect?
Wouldn't that be an option?
I would like once again to welcome everyone to the Standing Committee on Official Languages. We have in fact met all of you before, at least once, if not more often.
Your testimony was excellent. We learn something every day, even though we may have the impression that we are always taken up with our desire and determination to move things forward on behalf of our language communities.
I'd like to reiterate what Mr. Godin said at the outset. We are conducting a study on measures taken by the federal government to protect and promote the French language in Canada and in Quebec. That's what I would like to focus on.
Before addressing the issue of modernizing the official languages act, I'd like us to talk about links. There are indeed many links in the chain of events that allow us to promote these much talked about linguistic minorities. I hope that I'm not wrong when I say that education is one of these links. Everything begins with education, which enables us to read and understand our minority language.
I'm going to follow up on what my colleague Mr. Lefebvre said about the new census to be conducted in 2021, which will provide us with information and results about rights holders. I'll begin with Mr. Forgues.
What do you feel will be the repercussions on the geographical map of our language communities in Canada? Will it have a positive or negative impact on our language communities?
I'm not sufficiently erudite to define that word.
I'll go now to Mr. Jolin.
Mr. Jolin, you said that there were options for francophones in northern Ontario. You are working actively on this and I congratulate you for it.
I'll go over the recommendations quickly and then give you the floor.
You mentioned that it was important to have accountability. It was discussed. You would like the funds to be redirected to the University of Sudbury and for some French-language programs to be transferred there from Laurentian University.
Could you explain the mechanics of that? I know that the committee will return to it, but things appear to be evolving. I'd like you to talk about this aspect because we understand, as you were saying, that ties have been cut with Laurentian Universityx. We're going to get them, but I'd like to hear what you have to say about it.
My last question is for everyone.
There has been a lot of discussion about institutions.
Mr. Landry, You're a Quebecker and you live in Quebec. In that province, we can count on the state, which is our leading institution. Things are very different for francophones living in minority communities, and the importance of their francophone institutions, like schools and universities, is understandable.
I'd like to hear what you have to say about the importance of institutions in minority communities and how the new version of the act, by broadening a number of definitions among other things, could contribute to their vitality.
I'll stop there, but if I've understood correctly, what's really needed is an asymmetrical vision of official languages in areas where the status of French, in Quebec and elsewhere, might be described as "dominated"—I know that's a strong word—by English.
I'd like to broaden the discussion to hear your comments.
If we properly analyze the situation as it affects the linguistic vitality of communities and people, there is not necessarily any asymmetry. Each receives what it needs.
As for the institutions, I distinguish between two major types of institutions. There are what I call solidarity institutions, which nurture people's identity. These include early childhood centres, daycare centres, schools, postsecondary institutions, the media, and in some instances, workplaces. These are not only institutions, but living environments. People develop their identity by living in their language.
The second type of institution includes what I call status institutions. For example, there are health services, which put us into the public arena. These are not places where we become socialized in our language, but that inform people that they have access to services in their language. This nurtures subjective vitality, which nevertheless has some importance. To use a language, one must not only identify with the group, but also believe that one's language is worth being spoken. That's what subjective vitality is. And there are different ways of acquiring identity.
I could say a few words, but I'm not an immigration expert.
If families no longer have enough children to stabilize the population or have it grow, immigration comes into play. I find that we also tend to set targets. For example, in the white paper, I noticed there was talk about aiming at 4% for the Francophone population. When you aim at 4%, and things become very complicated, you end up with 2.5% or 3%.
What we should do here is imitate the National Hockey League. When a team is losing all the time, it gets to be first in line in the draft. That enables the team to get better. In other words, to keep things more balanced, you don't give the first draft picks to the team that won the Stanley Cup. The teams at the bottom of the heap get the top draft picks. It should be the same for immigration.
There are all kinds of figures out there about the number of francophones, and we know that those who speak only French tend to go to Quebec. They don't stay outside Quebec. So when it's difficult to recruit immigrants, I think we should aim higher for minorities, so that they get their share of the pie.
On the one hand, Mr. Landry, you grasped the concept of "overcompleteness", meaning extreme overfunding. Mr. Frédéric Lacroix defined it as an overabundance of services, in areas like health or postsecondary education, in English, in Quebec.
You said that there was no "overcompleteness" for linguistic minorities, but that's certainly not the case for Quebec anglophones. For example, 45% of jobs in the health field in Montreal are in the anglophone network, whereas anglophones represent about 17% of Montreal's population. That's a very interesting point.
And what do you think about Quebec's language policy, which is based on the common language concept?
As you said earlier, it's very clear that English will become the common language for newcomers who settle anywhere other than Quebec, because they won't be able to function unless they speak English.
In fact, 99% of allophone language transfers are towards English in the rest of Canada and 40% of francophones whose mother tongue is French use mainly English at home. I therefore think that we need to address future action from this standpoint.
There has been an increase in language transfers towards French through the selection of "francotrope" immigrants. However, if we were successful in making French the common language in Montreal, we would probably succeed in counteracting the decline of French.
Do you think that if we were to make French the common language in regions other than Quebec where there is a critical mass of francophones, at least in federal institutions, it could be part of the solution?
I think it would be difficult to legislate this outside Quebec. Bill 101, as legislated in Quebec, is recognized worldwide. The three linguistic groups that have succeeded best in defending their minority language are the populations that speak Hebrew, a nearly dead language that became a state language, followed, on an equal footing, by the people of Catalonia and Quebec.
The concept of a common language is something I find very meaningful. I believe that it's section 59 that authorizes Quebec to disallow mother tongue as a criterion for becoming a rights holder for education. If this criterion had been applied, one can only guess that owing to the attraction of English, there would already be many francophones who would choose to send their children to an English language school because of what I call "social naïveté", meaning that they believe the best bilingualism program is 50-50.
In the United States, the education program based on the principle of dual immersion is the most highly rated in terms of bilingualism.x Spanish speakers spend 50% of their time studying in their own language and 50% in English, and English speakers do the same. It's a very good program, but if we were to try to apply it in a minority setting, it would amount to collective suicide.
Common language is a very useful concept for Quebec, one which allows Quebec to protect itself. In North America as a whole, the overall percentage of francophones is very low. Quebec therefore needs to become a bastion, and to defend itself.
In my previous career, I worked for a union affiliated to theFTQ, the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec. The FTQ''s programs placed a strong emphasis on respect for the French language at work. I was very happy about this. Afterwards, within the NDP, we always argued that the Charter of the French Language should also be applied, which was not the case for companies subject to federal regulation on sectors like telecommunications, air transport, and shipping.
The reform document shows a desire to defend the language rights of workers so that they can work in French and also communicate with their employer in French. It's a step in the right direction, and it's what we've been requesting for years.
The reform document also partly opens the door to companies subject to federal regulation outside Quebec, in communities or regions where there is—it's not clear yet—a high percentage of francophones.
Mr. Forgues, You spoke about indicators the last time I asked you some questions, and you began by pointing to the importance of the working language.
What's your view of what the reform document might have in store for us?
How important is it to make an effort to ensure the vitality and survival of a language in a specific region?
I'll be sharing my time with Mr. Arseneault.
Thank you to our witnesses.
I have one question for Mr. Landry.
Mr. Landry, I'm from Manitoba in western Canada. It's interesting. Even within western Canada you see regional differences with regard to the decline of French. In Alberta and the northern territories, it appears to be increasing, in some cases very rapidly, but in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, it's declining. As you know, in Manitoba we have a very tight and geographically focused community in Saint Boniface and some of our southern Manitoba communities.
I wonder if you could reflect on and give us some picture of what's going on in western Canada with respect to the vitality of French. Perhaps you could use your framework of the various actors, community, family, civil society, government. If we understand what the problem is, hopefully we can develop solutions.
In western Canada there may be a few exceptions, but generally the problem is dispersion of small communities. I remember testing in Saskatchewan and travelling for three days just to test about seven or eight students in each school. Saskatchewan is a good example of dispersion.
What's missing there for the first actors, the parents and the family, is that they don't have social proximity to institutions, to other francophones, so it's a major challenge on that side.
The second component is the institutional completeness. That's also dictated by numbers.
The third factor is the state legitimizing the language. In that case, governments could be more generous in legitimizing the language, giving them access to communities.
I have testified a few times in court cases in western Canada. They build small schools. They quickly outgrow the schools. There's a lack of vision. You might remember the last court case in B.C. that went to the Supreme Court. The judge herself said it's true that we don't give the francophones what they need, but they are going to assimilate just the same. We should not invest too much.
With those kinds of attitudes, we have problems.
Thanks, we'll stop now.
I'd like to thank all the witnesses for having contributed to the study we are currently working on. It has been very interesting. I would also like to remind you that you you can send us your briefs through the clerk.
On behalf of all the committee members and myself, I would like to thank the representatives of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario, Mr. Carol Jolin, President, Mr. Peter Hominuk, Executive Director, and Mr. Bryan Michaud, Policy Analyst. I would also like to thank Mr. Éric Forgues, the Executive Director of the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities, as well as Mr. Rodrigue Landry, Professor Emeritus, Université de Moncton and former Director General, of the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities, who appeared as an individual.
Thanks also go to committee staff—the analyst, the clerk and the entire team.
On that note, I too wish us all a good vote.
The meeting is adjourned.