Interventions in Committee
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View Paul Lefebvre Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Paul Lefebvre Profile
2017-11-30 16:06
I have one last question.
There is something we have heard from several witnesses over the passed two years, since I have been on this committee. That is the notion of services that are managed for and by the main parties concerned. I know you're asking the province to play a role in the management of day cares, but we wonder whether the community could also play a role. Often in small villages, these services are managed for and by the official language minority. In Ontario, for instance, there are services managed by francophones for francophones.
What role should the community play to ensure services are managed by and for the communities concerned?
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
That is another very good question.
There are two things.
First, the community and the associations that represent the community groups are consulted before we agree, and before we sign the action plans. We conduct a broad consultation exercise in each of the provinces and territories to ensure that the organizations that represent minority francophone or anglophone communities are involved in the preparation of these action plans.
Second, in every case I can remember, a large part of the work is done through these community organizations, which are sometimes national in scale. That is the case in Ontario, since it is a vast province. Things are somewhat more concentrated, however, in Nova Scotia. So, we we work with the associations that represent francophone educational day care services in Ontario. Afterwards, most of the time francophone school boards do the work to ensure that early childhood services are well integrated into the educational services that follow early childhood. It depends on the circumstances, but that is often where the best work is done, that is to say when early childhood education services are integrated into the educational services that oversee them, and when this goes through existing structures. As we were saying earlier, this allows us to avoid situations where children in minority communities are sent to bilingual or immersion day cares. These services do not offer the quality we are seeking. It is preferable that things be done another way.
Isabelle Salesse
View Isabelle Salesse Profile
Isabelle Salesse
2016-10-20 10:04
Thank you very much, Mr. Paradis.
Mr. Chair and members of the committee, first, we thank you for inviting the Association franco-yukonnaise today to talk to you about the roadmap and about francophone immigration.
I will start by talking about our organization. The Association franco-yukonnaise, or AFY, is the official voice of francophones in the Yukon and a pillar in the development of the Franco-Yukon community. Our mandate is to improve the quality of life in French for French-speaking Yukoners. We provide services in a number of areas, including arts and culture, health, education, economic development and, of course, immigration. Our association has been in existence since 1982. During the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we will be celebrating our 35th birthday.
In order for you to get to know us better, one other point may interest you. Given the size of our community and the fact that it is geographically concentrated in Whitehorse, we preferred to bring most of the services under the same roof instead of creating a number of organizations. So we have adopted a one-stop model that allows for better integration and greater efficiency in our services as well as giving us the benefit of the economies of scale.
All the AFY’s services use the same resources in accounting, information technology, communications and reception. We have therefore made best use of the money that we invest in projects that are useful for our community.
Clearly, this approach also works to the advantage of the clients who come to our offices. For example, most immigrants take advantage of our job search services. With this model, those immigrants also receive settlement services and employment assistance services from the same person under the same roof. They can therefore use all our services without having to leave the building.
Let me now turn to another point. I do not know if you are aware, but the French-speaking Yukon is expanding, both in numbers and in size. The francophone school and daycare are short on space. The French immersion schools cannot meet the demand. Furthermore, the Yukon is ranked third among provinces and territories in terms of bilingualism. With a bilingualism rate of 13%, we are third after Quebec and New Brunswick, which is no small achievement.
The AFY is also a member of a number of national organizations, such as the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, whose representatives you met yesterday, I believe, and the Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité, or RDÉE Canada. Through those national networks, we can provide our community with access to a number of programs and initiatives.
Let me now move directly to the roadmap. I call it “the roadmap” but I am actually going to be talking about an official languages action plan. It is clear that the roadmap that will end in 2018 responds but poorly to the needs of francophone minority communities like the franco-Yukon community. That is why we are insisting on the importance of the future official languages plan.
It must give priority to supporting the development and the vitality of francophone minority communities. This is essential. Our communities’ needs in terms of health and education must be recognized. For us, when we talk about education, we mean lifelong education. It starts in early childhood and goes through adulthood to the old age. For us, it means literacy, skills, community economic development, culture and identity, and the media. It must include services to French-speaking seniors, young people and immigrants.
For several years, we have been advocating for a new service for seniors. This population is growing. So it is important not to neglect this aspect of our francophone minority communities.
The government can find support in the recent consultations that were held right across Canada, but also in some reports from the Commissioner of Official Languages, specifically one of the most recent about early childhood. This report insists on how crucially important it is for our communities in order to ensure linguistic continuity; it adds that we must have access to daycare and preschool services in French in our communities. First, we are talking about services of a quality equal to those available to the majority. Early childhood is where our survival begins.
One single approach is not possible if we wish to reach genuine equality. We cannot look at a wall-to-wall approach and say that the situation is the same in Prince Edward Island as it is in the Yukon. It is very different. As you know, Ontario has the largest critical mass of francophones but that does not mean that Ontario solutions can be applied to the Yukon. Even with francophones representing 4.8% of the community, the figures are very small. Sometimes criteria are imposed that are extremely difficult for us to meet.
There is one other thing that we feel is extremely important. All federal departments must be included in the plan and all must fulfill their obligations in terms of official languages. We must keep in mind that Canadian Heritage is not the only department responsible for implementing official languages measures. Who is to ensure that the money identified for OLMCs is spent for and by OLMCs? How do we avoid the roadmap’s errors in that respect?
Should we identify a federal body to coordinate a new plan with genuine, effective accountability mechanisms, not only for the communities but also for all of the departments involved? The action plan must be one of the mechanisms that support the full implementation of the Official Languages Act, not a little Band-Aid to put on little boo-boos. We must avoid having to start again in two years, only to find that we are at the same level.
It goes without saying that a substantial increase in budgets is required. If we really want to work towards a strong and bilingual Canada, we must make corresponding investments in our communities. Project financing has its interest, but it is insufficient for developing OLMCs. Multi-year funding is required and it must include a basic core amount in order to allow organizations like the AFY to hire qualified and committed people so that we are able to aim for long-term results.
We would also like to stress the importance of not confusing bilingualism with the constitutional right to live in the official language of one’s choice. We must distinguish between the importance of preserving all the languages in Canada—the importance of one’s personal choice to speak one, two or three languages—and the federal responsibility for linguistic duality, which implies that Canadians have the right to be unilingual anglophone or unilingual francophone all across Canada and to have access to services in the language of their choice.
To bring this matter to a close, I also invite you to consult a bilingual position statement developed by the AFY in September 2016, entitled Taking action for a vibrant and dynamic Yukon Francophone Community. Can you see it on the screen? The document describes the concrete actions that each level of government must take to support our community. In the document that we sent you, we put the address of our website so that you can access and download this document.
That is what I had to say about the roadmap. I believe that I kept to the time I was given.
Thank you.
Sylviane Lanthier
View Sylviane Lanthier Profile
Sylviane Lanthier
2016-10-18 8:51
Mr. Chair and committee members, I want to thank you for inviting the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada to make this double presentation to you today.
Founded in 1975, the FCFA is the key representative organization of the 2.6 million francophones living in nine provinces and three territories across the country. The FCFA has 20 members: 12 provincial and territorial francophone representative associations and 8 national organizations representing various sectors of activity and clients. It also coordinates the Forum des leaders, an assembly of 42 organizations that are engaged in the development of francophone and Acadian communities.
In this first part, my remarks will focus on the next action plan for official languages. In the second part, following your questions, I will address the issue of francophone immigration.
Late this past summer, Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages, announced some excellent news. The results of a Nielsen poll revealed that an unprecedented 84% of Canadian across the country support bilingualism. Nearly the same percentage, 82%, feel that the 150th anniversary of confederation in 2017 should be an opportunity to promote the official languages in Canada.
It appears from these results that the official languages issue is resolved in the minds of most Canadians; it is a fait accompli. A few months ago, the Hon. Mélanie Joly (Minister of Canadian Heritage) echoed that observation by declaring that the Official Languages Act was part of a social contract established many years ago.
However, we also know that, while there is a broad consensus in society on linguistic duality, in reality, that does not always translate into adequate services or full compliance with the Official Languages Act, particularly in the area of support for francophone minority communities.
Former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau once said, "A country, after all, is not something you build as the pharaohs built the pyramids, and then leave standing there to defy eternity. A country is something that is built every day out of certain basic shared values." Those eloquent words, quoted by President Barack Obama during his visit to Parliament last June, aptly apply to Canada's linguistic duality. Like our country, like our collective identity, we must cultivate linguistic duality as the living tree it is.
In the throne speech and in the federal budget last March, the government reiterated its commitment to protecting our two official languages. That is a positive sign. However, when you consider linguistic duality as a living tree, decisive action, specific acts, and a bold plan are needed to promote French and make it flourish in all regions of the country.
Support for our two official languages must mean more than the mere delivery of bilingual services and communications by federal institutions. The advancement of linguistic duality must go beyond simply learning a second language. We can say there is genuine linguistic duality in Canada because there are communities living in French in every province and territory, and it is on that vitality that we must build.
It is because of that vitality that Canadians who learn French as a second language have opportunities to speak that language in a variety of situations in everyday life. It is because of our communities that francophone military personnel posted to places like Comox and Kingston enjoy social and cultural activities in their language and their children have access to French-language schools. Creators in our communities, the Gabrielle Roys, Damien Robitailles, Lisa LeBlancs, and Joseph Edgars, are helping to shape this unique Canadian identity that we will be celebrating next year. The entrepreneurs, organizations, and institutions in our communities are creating jobs in French and contributing to the economic development of their region and the country as a whole.
The francophone and Acadian communities are an anchor point for linguistic duality from sea to sea to sea. In recent years, however, they have often been forgotten in government and social discourse and action on linguistic duality and official languages.
Promoting the development of prosperous, inclusive francophone communities that are able to fend for themselves and to contribute fully to the development of their region and country: that is the issue that should be central to the next government plan for official languages.
The Government of Canada can effect a considerable change for our communities by investing in three key priorities: first, francophone immigration, early childhood, and mobility; second, the offer of services and activities for francophones in all areas of their everyday lives; and, third, capacity-building for organizations and institutions involved in the economic, cultural, and social development of our communities. That is the most important message that we are sending you today.
Consider the first priority. As the report published by the Commissioner of Official Languages two weeks ago shows, every time parents feel they have to register their children at an English-language day care centre, not by choice but because of a lack of space elsewhere, that decision has a devastating impact on the family, the children, and the community. Conversely, the availability of those services in French helps guarantee that our children will be francophone and that our families will be able to live in French. It guarantees the vitality of our communities.
As regards the second priority, the francophonie is strong when it is expressed through activities, events, and services that reach francophones and the population as a whole in everyday life. However, there are deficiencies in many areas—education, culture, access to justice, the media, and health—and French-language services and activities are too often offered using makeshift resources in inadequate facilities. However, there is a direct relationship between the quality of life in French and the choice of francophone migrants or immigrants, or even old-stock francophones, to associate with and contribute to the francophone community.
The third priority is the development of prosperous communities that are good places to live. In the francophone minority communities, institutions and organizations created by and for the community ensure that development. Those organizations and institutions operate on financial resources that, in the vast majority of cases, have not increased in more than a decade. Over the years, they have found innovative solutions that have helped them manage at lower cost. However, with purchasing power declining every year as the cost of living increases, they now have no financial leeway.
It is essential that we increase the capacity of organizations in our communities if we want them to continue to champion the advancement of French as they currently do. We must be able to modernize or improve our infrastructure to meet the growing demand. Our media must be able to make the digital shift. Our organizations and institutions must be able to meet emerging needs.
None of what I have just said means that the next action plan for official languages must be the alpha and omega of the Canadian government's commitment to the development of our communities. In fact, full compliance with the Official Languages Act instead requires that the government use different support levers through various federal institutions, in addition to that plan. Consider, for example, the major investments in infrastructure, early childhood, and youth employment announced in the 2016 budget. The government would be taking tangible action in favour of the francophone community if it set aside a portion of those investments to respond directly and expressly to the needs of our communities for social, educational, and cultural infrastructure, day care centres, and jobs for youth in our communities. We hope your committee will adopt that recommendation as its own.
So there you have a ready-made plan to make francophone communities, as living expressions of Canada's linguistic duality, the central focus of government support measures for our two official languages. The action that should be taken is clear and obvious. The challenges were eloquently underscored during the consultations held across the country this past summer. The urgent need for action is now apparent.
Thank you. I am prepared to answer your questions.
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