Committee
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 48 of 48
Jeff Latimer
View Jeff Latimer Profile
Jeff Latimer
2020-07-07 13:24
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee as a representative of Statistics Canada. As a public servant, I am always grateful for these opportunities. I'm here with my colleagues Karen Mihorean and Marc Lachance. They will answer questions within their areas of expertise if required.
It's clear to us that the pandemic has raised significant concerns about the disproportionate impacts across Canada based upon socio-economic differences. Not all groups have been equally affected, and we have observed such impacts within our data, particularly among seniors living in long-term care facilities, health care workers, racialized communities, indigenous communities and those living in low-income households.
Before presenting a few key examples, it's important to highlight the data collection accountabilities related to COVID-19.
As you probably know, the provincial and territorial public health authorities are responsible for collecting and reporting within their jurisdictions on COVID-19 cases. The Public Health Agency of Canada is responsible for receiving this data from the provinces and territories and reporting at the national level. While Statistics Canada does not collect COVID-19 data directly, we do provide expertise and advice on gaps in existing data and on potential strategies to address such gaps, as well as data collection and data exchange standards.
I'd like to make one last point related to data collection before I provide examples. There are generally two methods: survey data, from a sample the population, and administrative data, typically from a census of all cases. COVID-19 data is collected through administrative data, which often has a number of limitations. In Canada, it is clear these data limitations are creating significant challenges.
Jeff Latimer
View Jeff Latimer Profile
Jeff Latimer
2020-07-07 13:26
First, there is a lack of common data standards and data exchange standards across the country, along with inefficient data processing and data quality concerns. Second, the lack of granularity in the data that is collected related to COVID-19 makes it difficult to answer key policy questions. For example, there is no data collected on such demographic characteristics as race, ethnicity or income, and no data on an individual's underlying health status. In addition, detailed geospatial data is not available to better understand the spread of COVID-19. Finally, and I think most importantly, the data submitted to the federal government does not include identifiers that could facilitate safe and appropriate record linkage with existing Statistics Canada datasets that could potentially fill these gaps.
That said, we have been actively collecting new survey data and analyzing our existing data to shed some light on the potential indirect impacts of COVID-19. During this time of social distancing, for example, 64% of youth are reporting substantial declines in their mental health status, compared with only 35% of seniors. The unemployment rate for students in May of this year was 40%, which is triple the rate reported last year in the same month. A similar pattern was evident among non-student youth as well. More than 70% of seniors in Canada over the age of 80 report at least one pre-existing chronic condition related to severe symptoms of COVID-19, which is more than double the rate among adults under 60.
If we look at the immigrant population, we see that employment losses during COVID-19 have been more than double compared with the Canadian-born population. We also know that before COVID-19, black Canadians were already experiencing unemployment rates twice that of the general population. The wage gap between these groups has been widening in recent years. Among black youth, almost twice as many report experiencing food insecurity as compared with other young Canadians. Visible minority populations, such as Chinese and Korean Canadians, have reported increases in race-based negative incidents over the last few months. One in ten women have reported being concerned about violence in their home during the pandemic.
If we examine the socio-demographic characteristics of long-term care workers, who are currently facing some of the most difficult challenges, we see that they are more likely to be immigrants, they are less likely to work full time, and they are more likely to earn less than the average Canadian. Indigenous men are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed. They earn, on average, 23% less than their non-indigenous counterparts. In almost all indicators, including health status and life expectancy, the indigenous population lags well behind Canadian averages.
The pandemic has shone a glaring light on many of these pre-existing social inequities that Statistics Canada has been tracking for decades. In order to respond to the need for more data, we have launched a number of rapid data collection vehicles, such as web panels and crowdsourcing surveys. The topics have included the impacts of COVID-19 on labour, food insecurity, mental health, perceptions of safety, trust in others and parenting concerns. Statistics Canada finished collection just yesterday, using our crowdsourcing surveys, to better understand the impact on persons with long-term disabilities. This data will be available in early August. It will include information on visible minority status as well as such other demographic markers as gender, immigrant status and indigenous identity. More data on mental health issues will also be made available in the coming weeks. It will provide breakdowns by gender diversity, immigrant status and ethnocultural groups.
In partnership with the provinces and territories, we have also significantly increased the timeliness of death data in Canada so that a clear picture of excess deaths during the pandemic can be estimated. We will be releasing this data publicly next month.
We are also partnering with the Canadian Institute for Health Information to examine in greater detail the issues among health care workers and long-term care facilities.
Finally, we are working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to make detailed preliminary data on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases available to Canadians and researchers.
I'd like to thank you very much for your time. My colleagues and I are available to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Marc Lachance
View Marc Lachance Profile
Marc Lachance
2020-07-07 13:54
Good afternoon.
This is a very good question. Similar to our colleague from CIHI, Statistics Canada produces national standards. As you mentioned, the census is one of the major data collection activities in which we apply those standards. As a national statistical organization, Statistics Canada makes all those standards available. We develop them with communities and with experts. We also test them with the respondents to ensure that they understand those standards. As a result, we have standards that we can make available to other organizations. They're all available publicly. As mentioned, they are all trusted and used.
We are also working closely with our—
Karen Mihorean
View Karen Mihorean Profile
Karen Mihorean
2020-07-07 14:03
Yes, thank you.
What we've found is that not just youth have experienced a significant impact on their mental health. We've been able to compare the data from our crowdsourcing and our web panel surveys to the Canadian community health survey, looking at overall rates and general perceptions of mental health in what people were reporting in 2018-19 and then how it compares now. It's not just in youth that we are seeing a decline; we're also seeing it among the indigenous population and in immigrants. These are also populations that have been particularly hit with job loss, for example, and the ability to remain financially stable. We are seeing rather significant declines in self-perceived mental health among those three groups especially.
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Last week, on Friday, Statistics Canada was to release labour force survey data at 8:30 a.m. eastern time, one of the most important and market-moving indicators of the month, but someone in the government leaked that information ahead of time, almost 45 minutes ahead of time, and exclusively to Bloomberg terminal users on Wall Street and on Bay Street, who pay thousands of dollars a month for those terminals.
Moving markets, the Canadian dollar moved eight basis points in that short period of time and billions were made or lost on the market. Section 34 of the Statistics Act makes it a criminal offence for someone to leak information that might influence stock, bond or currency markets.
Has the government notified the RCMP about what appears to be a criminal breach of the Statistics Act?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I'd like to thank the honourable member for his question.
I, too, share the same concerns that he's highlighted with regard to this leak. This is completely unacceptable. That is why we're going to make sure that a proper and thorough examination is done, and going forward we want to make sure that no such breach or leak occurs.
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Chair, Statistics Canada said that staffers and ministers' offices, including the Prime Minister's office, the finance minister's office, the employment minister's office and the industry minister's office, would have received this secret information no earlier than 2 p.m. the previous day.
Statistics Canada has also indicated that it has begun an internal investigation. Will the minister commit to fully co-operating with this investigation?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'd like to remind the honourable colleague that our government has supported Statistics Canada. We're the ones who reintroduced the mandatory long-form census. We're the ones who funded more money for Statistics Canada. The member opposite knows that we'll be fully co-operative in any such investigation into any leak.
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, the member opposite knows full well that there are proper processes and protocols in place when it comes to such sensitive matters, and we will ensure that those processes and protocols—
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Chair, I hope there is no double standard for ministers' offices and the public service, because it was only about 13 years ago that a public servant was criminally charged and convicted for using top secret information in the markets.
I hope that in this investigation, and in the release of the information concerning this investigation, ministers' staffers aren't held to a different standard than the public service has been held to.
This leak speaks to the integrity of the government. Intelligence at the Five Eyes.... Our four allies have been telling us for years that one of the top two or three threats that democracies are facing is declining public confidence in our key institutions. Democracies have been blindsided by misinformation, disinformation and cyber-attacks, and now we are being blindsided by the misuse of information by this very government.
That doesn't even.... The government's own national statistics-gathering agency doesn't trust this cabinet or this government, and that's why they announced several days ago that they would suspend the pre-release of information to the cabinet.
What is the government going to do to restore public confidence in our institutions?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, our government has remained steadfast in its support for Statistics Canada. I'd like to remind my honourable colleague that we are the government that brought forward legislation to strengthen the independence of Statistics Canada. We're the government that brought forward measures to make sure they have additional monies for conducting the proper mandatory long-form census as well.
When it comes to the leak that the member opposite is talking about, we're not going to prejudge the outcome. We have been very clear that the proper processes and protocols that are in place will be followed.
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Chair, I hope the government will call the RCMP and notify them about what appears to be a criminal breach of the Statistics Act, because it was a previous Liberal minister who himself was subject to a lot of misinformation and was a target of improper allegations about his office's use of information that leaked about the income trust changes that the previous Liberal government had brought in. The RCMP began an investigation and, in the course of the investigation, they charged a public servant who was ultimately convicted of breaching that secret information.
I hope the minister holds his office and the offices of his cabinet colleagues to the same standard, calls in the RCMP and makes them aware of what appears to be a criminal breach of the Statistics Act.
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
I appreciate that very much.
Again, I want to take this opportunity to say that leaks of this nature are completely unacceptable. We've been very clear that we are going to take the appropriate steps. Statistics Canada is taking the appropriate steps.
I want to remind the member opposite that we're not going to prejudge any outcome at this stage. Again, it is our government that has been consistently supporting Statistics Canada in its work through the previous years.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, last week markets were shocked when leaks regarding the state of our economy came to light before the market even opened. This caused worry to investors at home and abroad about the integrity of our markets and the nature of the leak, which is, in itself, unprecedented.
Section 34 of the Statistics Act indicates the following:
Every person who, after taking the oath set out in subsection 6(1), is guity of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or to impreisonment for a term not exceeing five years or both:
(a) wilfully discloses or divulges directly or indirectly to any person not entitled under this Act to receive the same any information obtained by him in the course of his employment that might exert an influence on or affect the market value of any stocks, bonds or other security or any product or article, or
(b) uses any information described in paragraph (a) for the purpose of speculating in any stocks, bonds or other security or any product or article
My question for the minister is this: Does the government consider this case to be subject to paragraph 34(a) or 34(b) and a criminal offence, yes or no?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, my hon. colleague is absolutely right that the current situation with regard to the COVID crisis is deeply problematic, and we want to make sure that any information we share with the Canadian public with regard to economic measures or labour market numbers follows the appropriate process. The breach that occurred is completely unacceptable. Our government has denounced this breach. That breach was not the way to deal with such sensitive information.
The member has alluded to several paragraphs within the Statistics Act. I can assure him that we are looking into this matter and that Statistics Canada is looking into this issue as well. Going forward, we will ensure that such a breach does not occur again, because it's important that we continue to have the confidence of Canadians during this current health care crisis.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay, I will take that as a yes.
So this matter should be investigated, yes or no?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
As I have indicated very clearly, what has happened is completely unacceptable. This breach should not have occurred. This matter is being looked into, and we want to assure Canadians going forward that—
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, there are appropriate protocols in place to look into such breaches. Those protocols will be followed, and the appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such breaches do not occur going forward.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
The minister indicated that this will be investigated, but during the investigation into the SNC-Lavalin scandal, the Liberal staff refused to co-operate. Will the minister commit today that all Liberal staff will co-operate with this investigation?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
Again, we've been clear that it's important that any such breach be taken seriously. What has happened is unacceptable, and we will ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to make sure that such breaches do not occur going forward.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
There's no doubt about the general terms, but I need to make sure that the government will commit that its staff will co-operate. Yes or no?
View Navdeep Bains Profile
Lib. (ON)
The process is very clear. The protocols are very clear. The law is very clear, and we will make sure that the process is followed and the law is upheld.
Anil Arora
View Anil Arora Profile
Anil Arora
2020-03-12 15:32
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to begin by thanking the committee members for inviting Statistics Canada to appear before you today to provide an update on its efforts regarding the enumeration of rights holders under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
As you mentioned, Mr. Chair, with me today are my colleagues Lynn Barr-Telford and Stéphane Dufour, who will assist me in answering your questions. The fact that I am here with assistant chief statisticians attests to how important we consider the issue to be and gives them an opportunity to hear from you directly. Ms. Barr-Telford and Mr. Dufour are responsible for census content and operations, respectively.
Statistics Canada is committed to providing high-quality up-to-date data and analysis to policy-makers. To that end, we have formed strong relationships with our partners, developed world-class expertise, established robust methodologies, pursued constant innovation and explored new ways to meet the data needs of Canadians.
We use sample surveys, administrative and new emerging data sources, and the census, conducted once every five years, to build, maintain and further strengthen our data infrastructure in Canada. This infrastructure reflects a support of our values, our laws and societal needs with good facts and evidence. This evidence and need for unbiased data—not influenced by factors other than statistical rigour and independence—was made explicit through changes to the Statistics Act in 2017, subsequent to the return of the mandatory long-form census in 2016.
Canadians, 88% in fact, say they trust Statistics Canada. The 2016 census achieved the highest-ever response rate, which lends further support for a strong and credible statistical system in Canada.
Meeting the data needs of our bilingual society, where English and French have had official language status for the past 50 years, is something we take very seriously at Statistics Canada. We are unaware of any other statistical agency in the world that has acquired expertise equivalent to ours or built such an extensive wealth of knowledge around a society with two official languages as dynamic as the one we have here in Canada.
We are also committed to meeting the specific needs of language rights holders, a commitment I care deeply about. I'd like to take a few moments to show you that by sharing some of the tangible measures we have taken at Statistics Canada in the past few years.
First, we secured stable funding for a language statistics program at the department, as provided for in the 2019 budget. Through a leading-edge centre of expertise for statistical production and analysis for Canada's official languages, we can support related government initiatives. Our efforts support the official languages action plan and give official language communities, as well as all Canadians, access to high-quality information.
In 2017, we assembled Canada's leading experts through a formal advisory committee on language statistics to help guide our commitment to further strengthen our capacity to serve Canadians with the best information possible, the measure of right holders being an important focus.
Given the specific requirements that define minority language rights holders both within and outside Quebec, we developed, through robust qualitative testing, a module of comprehensible questions in both languages to ensure that we could obtain a highly reliable count of right holders.
To ensure that the questions designed through qualitative testing would work to yield high quality and reliable results, we conducted a large-scale quantitative test with 135,000 households in 2019.
Over the past many years, Statistics Canada has also strengthened its ability to obtain and maintain administrative data on school enrollments from other jurisdictions, including enrollments in minority language schools across this country.
In addition, together with the Department of Canadian Heritage, we built the capacity to produce geographic databases that make it possible to overlay the location of rights holders' children and the exact location of every minority language education facility in Canada. This will enable Statistics Canada to determine the distance between where rights holders live and where the education facility is located geographically.
We are also working with the Department of Canadian Heritage, as well as other federal partners, to develop a new post-census survey on official language minorities in Canada. The survey should provide relevant contextual information on rights holders' intentions when it comes to sending their children to a minority language education facility. The survey should also highlight the challenges official language minority communities face, including access to education in their official language.
The census is a signature data collection vehicle that dates back to 1666 in Canada, and one that obviously has evolved since in content and methodology. It serves our nation's needs for high-quality data at low levels of geography for very small populations. It provides a statistical basis upon which numerous legal, statutory and policy programs are assessed, and subsequent decisions are made to increase their effectiveness, including the Employment Equity Act, the Official Languages Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the Employment Insurance Act and Canada Pensions Plan, just to name a few.
However, the census is a specific snapshot in time and, on its own, cannot provide all the information rights holders are seeking. It is therefore important to build an ecosystem of data that will shed light on this important issue. To that end, Statistics Canada is exploring various data sources that will help paint an accurate picture of rights holders. This includes provincial and territorial data on annual school enrolment and a follow-up survey of rights holders to produce estimates of the number of parents who intend to send their children to a minority language education facility.
Indeed, existing questions on mother tongue and language spoken at home on the census, along with annual administrative data on school enrolments and the possible addition of a module of five questions on rights holders and a post-censal survey, would immensely strengthen the information on this vital aspect of our bilingual society.
We are eager to continue working with our partners to enrich this important ecosystem of data.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Bernard Généreux Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to our witnesses today. To say that we were eager to meet with them is putting it mildly.
My first question is this. Is Statistics Canada an arm's length agency, in other words, independent from the government and equipped with its own board of directors? If so, can the political powers that be ask you to include certain questions in the census?
Anil Arora
View Anil Arora Profile
Anil Arora
2020-03-12 15:41
We are referred to as a department; we are under the authority of a minister. We are independent to the extent that we have control over our methodology, meaning, the decisions we make are by default our own. Since 2017, however, Statistics Canada has had a process in place to ensure greater transparency around its decision-making.
Stéphane Dufour
View Stéphane Dufour Profile
Stéphane Dufour
2020-03-12 16:49
Since I'm in charge of operations, I can tell you that, according to our current procedures, we are going to have a lot of logistical problems if we don't start printing by the end of July 2020.
Sheila Risbud
View Sheila Risbud Profile
Sheila Risbud
2020-03-10 15:35
Mr. Chair, members of the committee, my name is Sheila Risbud and I am the president of the Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta, the ACFA.
Thank you for the invitation to testify before you today. Your work is tremendously important for the future of French in Alberta and elsewhere.
What is the ACFA? Founded in 1926, the ACFA defends the rights of Alberta's francophone community, advances its rights and enhances its vitality. The ACFA represents more than 250,000 French-speaking Albertans, a population that grew by over 50% between 1991 and 2016.
It is astonishing that I am speaking in French today, as there was no French-language school in Edmonton throughout nearly my entire education. My parents had no choice but to use French immersion programs managed by the anglophone majority. I am relieved that, thanks to section 23 of the charter, my three children are receiving an education in French and not immersion in Calgary.
At home, in Calgary, the French-language schools are overflowing. The problem is the same across Alberta. Why? The census considerably underestimates the number of children of rights holders under section 23 of the charter. That should change immediately. The failure to enumerate all the children of rights holders in Alberta harms the vitality and sustainability of French. How many French-language schools are we entitled to in Calgary? It is impossible to answer that, as most of the eligible children are not enumerated.
Let me be as clear as possible. It remains impossible to determine with any accuracy the request justifying education in French in Alberta. Why? Because Statistics Canada counts only one of the three categories of children eligible for education in French. That problem is not new. It has persisted since 1982, when section 23 of the charter came into force. Since 1982, Statistics Canada has carried out seven censuses. In reality, those have been seven missed opportunities.
The ACFA is proud to have produced and disseminated, with the Fédération des conseils scolaires francophones de l'Alberta, the very first major study on the necessary changes to the census. We are especially proud that the study helped your committee make this recommendation:
That the Government of Canada require Statistics Canada to include questions in the 2021 Census that would allow for the enumeration of all rights-holders under the broadest interpretation of paragraphs 23(1)(a) and (b) and subsection 23(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
That said, the ACFA is surprised that Statistics Canada continues to hesistate to implement your committee's recommendation. Alberta's francophone community is struggling to accept the fact that the federal government has still not confirmed the addition of questions necessary for the enumeration of all children of rights holders to the short form census questionnaire. The brief you received before my presentation today clearly explains that the long form questionnaire does not make it possible to address this shortcoming. Only questions in the short form questionnaire will satisfy the Albertan francophonie.
The ACFA refuses to believe that the future of French outside Quebec may rest between the hands of Statistics Canada. The ACFA's expectations from the members of cabinet are high. In fact, under the Statistics Act, the government, and not Statistics Canada, is in charge of laying out the questions of the short form census.
The ACFA thanks Statistics Canada for collaborating by testing the questions the francophonie needs. I invite you to look at the brief our association submitted. On page 8, under tab 2, are provided the questions Statistics Canada tested in 2019. You will see that the conclusion is encouraging. The analysis work is finished. The required questions exist, and they work.
There you will see the questions Statistics Canada tested in 2019, and you will see that the conclusion is encouraging. The analysis work is finished. The required questions exist, and they work.
Everyone knows what the next and last stage is. The federal government must prescribe the questions to enumerate the children of all right holders in the census short form questionnaire and not only in the long form questionnaire.
The ACFA is counting on the members of this committee to intercede with the members of cabinet to ensure that the only right decision is made soon. At this stage of the file, only one political action will help guarantee the sustainability of our minority francophone communities.
Thank you for your attention.
Marie-Pierre Lavoie
View Marie-Pierre Lavoie Profile
Marie-Pierre Lavoie
2020-03-10 15:41
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Honourable members, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on behalf of the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, the CSFCB.
Your committee is all too familiar with the shortcomings of the census and the issues its data causes to the CSFCB and to the francophone and Acadian school boards in minority settings.
The sociodemographic reality of minority language communities is simple and well-known: as a result of immigration and exogamy, fewer and fewer children eligible to attend French-language schools have French as their only first language learned.
On the other hand, more and more of them learn French at school rather than at home. So the number and proportion of parents who meet the criteria of paragraph 23(1)(a) of the charter are falling significantly, while the number and proportion of parents who meet the criteria of paragraph 23(1)(b) and subsection 23(2) are rising very rapidly. These categories are not enumerated by the census.
Effectively, the CSFBC and the province cannot adequately plan the required investments because they do not have access to reliable and relevant data on the number of potential students in French-language schools. It is not enough to know how many eligible students live in each municipality; we must also know where students live in every catchment area.
That is why your committee recommended the following in 2017:
That the Government of Canada require Statistics Canada to include questions in the 2021 Census that would allow for the enumeration of all rights-holders under the broadest interpretation of paragraphs 23(1)(a) and (b) and subsection 23(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
However, despite your recommendation, Statistics Canada has systematically avoided guaranteeing that the questions will be asked in the short form census.
It is indisputable that the short form census of Canadians is the only way to enumerate all the children with at least one parent with rights under section 23 of the charter. Therefore, the CSFBC is using its invitation to testify to ask the committee to plead with the federal government to require that the questions intended to enumerate the children with at least one parent with rights under section 23 of the charter be added to the short form census questionnaire.
This question is very important for the CSFBC, which has directly suffered the consequences of the undercounting of right holders through the census. In fact, the CSFBC spent weeks—and I do mean weeks—during its trial before the Supreme Court of British Columbia trying to estimate the number of right holders under paragraph 23(1)(b) and subsection 23(2) of the charter because Statistics Canada had never done it. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful.
Despite all the efforts of expert witnesses and the invested resources, the trial judge concluded that it was impossible to estimate the number of children who were not counted. The judge relied only on Statistics Canada data, which is substantially incomplete. Therefore, the Supreme Court of British Columbia concluded on several occasions that the number does not justify certain buildings or building expansions.
I want to be very clear. The “where numbers warrant” criterion set out in section 23 of the charter depends on the enumeration of all children of right holders. That is what the Supreme Court of Canada has been telling us since the Mahe case, in 1990. That case will be 30 years old at the end of next week.
Therefore, the implementation of section 23 requires the enumeration of the children of each local community to then determine what is “justified” in a given community. To do that, we must determine the number of children residing within a very specific geographic area and not simply estimate their number and guess their geographic location.
Here is an example. You could now refer to tab 5 of our brief. I am talking about the Pemberton example. The 2016 Census enumerated 46 children of right holders under paragraph 23(1)(a) of the charter. So we are talking about 46 children in 2016. However, in 2016, 59 children with at least one parent with rights under section 23 of the charter were enrolled in our school.
Owing to the incomplete data of the census, the judge concluded that the community was entitled to one school that could accommodate only 55 students. Today, 79 students are attending the elementary school La Vallée de Pemberton. We have no more space in Pemberton. If you look at tab 4, you will see a photo of our school. As you can see, it consists of two portable classrooms. Imagine 79 students in two portable classrooms.
To avoid the Pemberton issue and a number of others, the francophone and Acadian school boards and provincial and territorial governments need to know the absolute number of the children of rights holders under section 23 of the charter for each of the existing and proposed school catchment areas. That is how they—and the courts, as needed, as we have seen—determine what a community is entitled to under section 23. To do so, new census questions must be put to 100% of households using the short form questionnaire.
Although Statistics Canada is the government entity charged with developing and administrating the census, it is the cabinet—the Governor in Council—that is ultimately responsible for determining the content of the census. Therefore, the CSFBC expects the federal government to act accordingly.
We are very appreciative of the hard work your committee is doing with respect to the rights of the Franco-Columbian community. This study and the resulting recommendations will help ensure the flourishing of current and future students of our schools, but also of Francophone minority communities in Canada.
Thank you very much for listening to me.
Denis Chartrand
View Denis Chartrand Profile
Denis Chartrand
2020-03-10 15:49
My name is Denis Chartrand, and I am one of the three vice-presidents of the Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones du Canada. I am joined by Valérie Morand, our executive director.
Our federation represents more than 265 school trustees servicing the 28 French-language school boards operating in minority settings across the country. Those school boards are located in nine provinces and three territories—in other words, across Canada, with the exception of Quebec. They provide educational services in French as a first language to more than 170,000 students in over 700 schools.
We are testifying before you today on this important issue of collecting reliable, fair and accurate data through the census for the vitality and sustainability of francophone and Acadian communities.
We've submitted to you an 18-page brief, which details our position in regard to the urgency to add questions to the short-form census to better quantify the number of rights holders.
Since 2017, three years ago, the Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones has been urging Statistics Canada to modify the short-form Canadian census questionnaire to help school boards quantify the number of eligible children in French-language schools in the various cities, towns and townships in Canada.
The government must require that Statistics Canada add questions to the short-form census questionnaire, not only to the long questionnaire. This is the only way to adequately quantify all rights holders pursuant to section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Three categories of Canadians have the right to have their children educated in French under section 23 of the charter: first, parents whose first language is French; second, parents who have received a significant part of their primary school instruction in French; and third, parents of whom any child is attending or has attended a French-language school.
However, Statistics Canada persists in counting only one of the three categories of rights holders—the first one. As a result, the census underestimates the number of children who can enrol in our schools. The data will not be useful for French-language school boards and provincial and territorial education ministries unless they help determine, and not estimate, the actual number of children in the catchment area they live in.
The short form census questionnaire is the only way to enumerate all rights holders, as it is the only way to determine the number within a specific geographic sector. Conversely, the long form questionnaire estimates a national average, which is useless in a specific community.
It is impossible to demonstrate that “the numbers justify” for a specific community based on a national average. That can only be done using actual data.
Provincial and territorial governments and French school boards must know where to invest in school infrastructure in order to fulfill their obligations pursuant to section 23 of the charter, and thus protect minority language rights and their francophone communities. At this time, because of the lack of precise data, the estimated number of children likely to be enrolled in French-language schools is constantly underestimating the needs in Canadian provinces and territories. Such shortcomings in the current census have adverse effects on the vitality of French-language communities wherever French is the language of the minority.
What's more, the francophonie is changing. The francophonie has changed, and an increasing number of adults speak more than one language. French is often not the mother tongue of recently immigrated francophones. However, since they and their children were educated in French, they fall under paragraph 23(1)(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This new reality must be reflected in the short-form census questionnaire's data collection.
Using only French as a mother tongue does not provide an accurate picture of Canada's francophone population in minority settings, thereby excluding an increasingly significant number of rights holders. This creates headaches for school administrators who struggle to meet the growing demand for French first-language education.
Schools are overflowing.
The lack of evidence during new school infrastructure planning very often results in schools that are too small to meet the demand. Only just built, schools must install portables to respond to an underestimated demand. I'd like to share with you the top priority of my school board, Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario, when it comes to school facilities. Built to accommodate 314 students, École Maurice-Lapointe has a student population of 718. That's an occupancy rate of 268%, and yet, there are no francophones in Kanata, they say. The school has 23 portables—I repeat, 23 portables. It actually has more portables than regular classrooms.
Now I'll turn to our recommendations.
Since 2017 the Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones has taken some 40 initiatives to make the federal government aware of the importance of modifying the short-form census questionnaire to better quantify French-language school rights. Consequently, what follows are the FNCSF's key recommendations.
First, we recommend that, in the the immediate term, the short-form census questionnaire be modified to include questions that better enumerate rights holders and properly reflect Canada's francophone community. Second, we recommend that, in the medium term, the Official Languages Act be amended to expressly require Statistics Canada to enumerate rights holders under section 23 of the charter.
Comprehensive data on children eligible to attend French-language schools are essential for French-language school boards in order to battle assimilation. These data will allow school boards to better plan their infrastructure needs and to better advocate for capital project priorities before provincial and territorial ministries of education.
Currently, census data provide a very incomplete picture of rights holders under section 23 of the charter. In failing to provide the data necessary to correctly demonstrate that the number so warrants, the census hinders the implementation of section 23 of the charter.
Simply put, the short-form census questionnaire must be modified by the addition of questions to better quantify rights holders, because the vitality and sustainability of francophone and Acadian communities in minority settings in Canada are at stake.
Time is of the essence. The modification of the short-form census questionnaire must happen now, in time for the next census in 2021, in order for the federal government to meet its obligations pertaining to linguistic duality.
The census underestimates the number of rights holders under paragraph 23(1)(a) of the charter, as it discourages respondents from identifying several mother tongues. The socio-demographic reality of minority language communities is simple and well known. As a result of immigration and exogamy, fewer and fewer children eligible to attend French-language schools have French as their only first language learned. Thus, the number and proportion of parents who meet the criteria of paragraph 23(1)(a) of the charter—the only category recognized by the census—is falling significantly.
The number and proportion of parents who meet the criteria of paragraph 23(1)(b) and subsection 23(2) is rising very rapidly, but these categories are not enumerated by the census. There is no doubt that the vitality of francophone communities depends on education. Communities can thrive only if their schools are plentiful and thriving.
The survival of minority francophone communities is threatened by the systematic under-counting of children who have a parent with education rights. It makes it very difficult—and in some cases, impossible—for French-language school boards to justify their applications to provincial or territorial authorities for additional schools, because they do not have the evidence that the numbers warrant them.
The short-form census questionnaire of Canada's population is sent out to 100% of the population. It is the only format possible for enumerating education rights holders properly.
Thank you for your attention. I will answer any questions you may have.
Sylvia Martin-Laforge
View Sylvia Martin-Laforge Profile
Sylvia Martin-Laforge
2020-03-10 16:04
We offer the following observations and principles into this debate. On the one hand, the duty to fulfill the rights contained in section 23 of the charter falls squarely on the shoulders of the provinces. On the other hand, the enumeration of children of rights holders is a federal responsibility. Rightly or wrongly, section 91.6 of the Constitution Act, 1867 states that the census is exclusively under federal jurisdiction. Minority language educational rights are generally only available where numbers warrant. Linguistic minority communities always seek the largest descriptive number, provinces the lowest.
Even if it were realistic to rely on provincial and territorial governments to enumerate the children of section 23 rights holders, or rely on communities to self report these children, the data generated would be inconsistent with the goal of producing objective, credible and accurate data.
In our opinion, only Statistics Canada can enumerate the children of section 23 rights holders and produce data free from the perception of bias that will meet evidentiary standards and the legal test set by the courts.
We know, however, that many provinces—including Quebec—permit access to official language community schools beyond the scope of section 23. Whatever number Statistics Canada generates will therefore under-report eligibility in these jurisdictions.
Geoffrey Chambers
View Geoffrey Chambers Profile
Geoffrey Chambers
2020-03-10 16:06
Allow me to be clear. The Quebec Community Groups Network asks that children of all section 23 rights holders be enumerated by Statistics Canada by means of the short-form census, beginning with the 2021 census. A resort to the long-form census will neither suffice nor be celebrated. The census is much more than an academic or intellectual exercise. It is a cornerstone for sound public policy regarding our official language communities in the education sector.
It is key that Statistics Canada enumerate children of all section 23 rights holders, not just those of parents with rights under paragraph 23(1)(a)—first official language learned and still understood—which does not apply in Quebec. The only section 23 data generated by the previous seven short-form censuses has been of no practical utility in Quebec.
The census is more than an academic exercise.
In conclusion, we note that the enumeration of children under section 23 rights holders is contained in the mandate letter of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, but not the Minister of innovation, Science and Industry. This creates a kind of confusion. This is another example that reinforces the need for a central agency to lead the Government of Canada's official languages strategy.
We realize that our presentation to this committee may be preaching to the converted, but you are in a position to influence the way this conversation goes forward, and we very much urge you to throw your weight behind a correct decision in this matter. It's important to our community. We are very determined to see this go the right way, and we are 100% in solidarity with our francophone colleagues who testified before us.
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
CPC (NS)
The big question now is about how the census is going to work and whether Statistics Canada is really going to meet the needs of the rights holders.
Have you had an opportunity to talk to the people at Statistics Canada over the last few years? There are the criteria we have been discussing, but you have to see how they will respond to your questions or requests.
Denis Chartrand
View Denis Chartrand Profile
Denis Chartrand
2020-03-10 16:39
Let me give you a preliminary answer. Ms. Morand will be able to give you details later.
Yes, we have spoken with the bureaucrats at Statistics Canada. As Ms. Lavoie mentioned, they even tested the questions and they said that it worked. So we don't understand why they insist that it will only be part of the long form.
Marie-Pierre Lavoie
View Marie-Pierre Lavoie Profile
Marie-Pierre Lavoie
2020-03-10 16:39
We have sent a number of letters on this issue.
View Bernard Généreux Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here. I apologize for being late.
I would like to curse and swear, but I'm going to refrain. I have been a member of this committee for the last four years. We have met with you a few times, and we're still talking about the same thing today.
This Thursday, we are meeting with the chief statistician of Canada, so sharpen your pencils. Basically, the issue is political. It's not about math, and you don't have to convince anybody of the relevance of what you have been demanding for years.
One of the excuses we have been given in previous studies we have conducted is that there was no room on the form. Eventually, the choice to include one question rather than another becomes a political choice. That's it, plain and simple.
I am a printer and I know paper. I know that you can put a lot of information on a sheet of paper, as long as you want to.
Mr. Arseneault, you have a big job ahead of you.
We all agree on the enumeration. There is absolutely no reason to be partisan on this issue. It's crystal clear. This issue must be settled once and for all.
I hope we will have some insightful answers on Thursday. I say this because I know the chief statistician will be listening to what is being said today. I hope he's ready. I would not want him to tell us that he does not have room on his paper, because I will show him some paper. At some point, enough of this nonsense.
I hear you and, sincerely, I have tremendous admiration for all that you do and all that you have done over the last 50 years to have the rights of rights holders recognized. I believe that we must make your work easier.
Accountability is one of the things that has always struck a chord with me. Even today, money is still being sent to the provinces, and the provinces do whatever they want with it. We can't figure out what they do with that money. We talked about early childhood. Mr. Arseneault, how many studies have we done on that? Each time, we came up against the issue of accountability.
Do you have any comments on that? With regard to the chief statistician who will be appearing before us on Thursday, go for it.
Valérie Morand
View Valérie Morand Profile
Valérie Morand
2020-03-10 16:47
At the moment, we are very concerned. When the new cabinet was sworn in, a mandate letter was given to Minister Joly, who is responsible for the francophonie and official languages. It was clearly indicated that she had to change the census. People had hope when they saw that it was in the minister's mandate letter.
However, there is no mention of the short form or the long form. If we change the long form, we are no further ahead and we are back to square one. You know the issue. As you are well aware after hearing us, the ultimate decision rests in the hands of Mr. Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. Yes, it is in Ms. Joly's mandate letter, but it is in her colleague's hands. You can see the danger of this ending up in file 13, as they say.
In short, we are concerned about this.
Denis Chartrand
View Denis Chartrand Profile
Denis Chartrand
2020-03-10 16:48
I am an engineer by profession, so I like working with numbers. I am sure the chief statistician, who will appear before you, will tell you that with the long form, which is sent to 20% of Canadians, he can give you a close estimate. I am not questioning that, but it is a national average. That is not what we need. We need numbers in specific locations.
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
CPC (NS)
Thank you very much.
On Thursday, we will have the opportunity to ask questions of the chief statistician. What direct questions should we ask him? As that song from the 1980s said....
She Blinded Me with Science, they've blinded me with details that are not important.
Denis Chartrand
View Denis Chartrand Profile
Denis Chartrand
2020-03-10 17:10
Why do they not want to include the questions?
Denis Chartrand
View Denis Chartrand Profile
Denis Chartrand
2020-03-10 17:10
As the gentleman said, if the paper is too short, get longer paper! I am just an engineer.
Marie-Pierre Lavoie
View Marie-Pierre Lavoie Profile
Marie-Pierre Lavoie
2020-03-10 17:11
The questions were tested this summer and they work. It is just a matter of including them in the short form and not only in the long form.
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
Basically, it would confirm what you are already know.
I have another question.
You seem pretty sure of what Statistics Canada might tell us or the position it has already taken. Why is that?
Ms. Martin-Laforge, go ahead.
Sylvia Martin-Laforge
View Sylvia Martin-Laforge Profile
Sylvia Martin-Laforge
2020-03-10 17:13
StatsCan is going to tell you all the reasons...or you're going to tell them all the reasons they should do it.
They're probably thinking that the risk of putting in more questions and doing this in the short form opens the door to other groups and other questions. I think that the constitutional right and what we're trying to do in Canada around the two official languages and the linguistic minority is primordial.
They are risk-averse, I believe, in that they would not want to do this because it would open the door to other groups.
That's my take on not accepting that answer from them.
Josée Bégin
View Josée Bégin Profile
Josée Bégin
2020-03-10 8:48
If it's all right, Madam Chair, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will start. Then we'll turn to Employment and Social Development Canada, and then go to Statistics Canada.
Josée Bégin
View Josée Bégin Profile
Josée Bégin
2020-03-10 9:04
Madam Chair, committee members, thank you for giving me this opportunity today to present some key observations on the Canadian labour market.
I would like to use my time to focus on the country's labour supply and demand dynamics, and particularly the contribution of immigrants to the recent changes observed in the labour market.
According to different observations on labour supply and demand in Canada, it is clear that labour markets were tighter in 2019. If we look at labour demand, a number of provinces posted record-high job vacancy rates in the first three quarters of 2019. Across the country, several industries, such as health care and accommodation and food services, also posted their highest-ever job vacancy rates last year.
With respect to labour supply, the national participation rates for the core-working-age population, or individuals between 25 and 54 years old, were also at their highest level.
In May 2019, Canada saw its lowest unemployment rate since 1976, when comparable data from the labour force survey became available. Similar records were also observed in Quebec and Nova Scotia.
If we look at recent labour supply and demand dynamics in Canada, there are considerable variations, especially for specific occupations, levels of education and geographic areas.
First, the most recent results of the job vacancy survey show a tightening of the labour market in a number of occupations, such as health care professionals, where the number of unemployed individuals was lower than the number of vacant positions. We have observed similar scenarios at the provincial level as well. For example, there was less than one unemployed person for each vacant position in manufacturing occupations in Quebec and in sales and service occupations in British Columbia.
Second, if we examine the skills sought by employers, the labour market is obviously tighter for workers with lower levels of education. For example, in the third quarter of 2019 in British Columbia, there was less than one unemployed person with a high school diploma or lower for every vacant position requiring a similar level of education.
Lastly, we have also observed considerable regional differences in the aging of the labour supply. In 2009, just under one in six people in the labour force in Canada were 55 years and older, compared with more than one in five in 2019.
In some regions of the country, particularly northern British Columbia, southern Newfoundland, and Gaspésie, around one in three people in the labour force were over the age of 55. These regions, like most others outside large urban centres, also had some of the lowest retention rates of immigrant tax filers.
Given the aging population in many regions across Canada, immigrants are playing an increasingly important role in the renewal of labour supply.
Over the past five years, the number of Canadian students enrolled in a post-secondary institution has fallen by more than 40,000. Meanwhile, the number of international students has grown by more than 120,000.
Similarly, the most recent population estimates indicate that the numbers of births in Canada is stable and that the number of immigrants has increased.
In 2019, just over one in four individuals in the labour market was born outside Canada. By 2036, this figure could be one in three.
In recent years, most of the annual employment growth was driven by increases observed among landed immigrants.
In 2019, close to two-thirds of the overall employment growth in Canada was led by permanent residents, though they represented roughly a quarter of the working-age population. In particular, among women, three-quarters of the employment growth in 2019 was driven by permanent residents.
In some provinces, such as Alberta and Manitoba, permanent residents were responsible for all the employment growth observed in 2019. They represented a little less than a quarter of the working-age population in those provinces.
Labour supply and demand variations are one thing, but we are also very aware of the need to shed light on the quality and security offered by those jobs. Quality of employment is one issue we are delving into further at Statistics Canada.
For example, we are working closely with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, with whom we recently contributed to the development of an international statistical framework for measuring employment quality.
Quality of employment comprises various dimensions, including job security, decent wages and the right to work without discrimination.
One aspect of job security is the extent to which jobs are permanent or temporary. In 2019, recent landed immigrants were less likely to have a permanent job than their Canadian-born counterparts. Conversely, landed immigrants who had been in Canada for more than 10 years were more likely to have a permanent job than individuals born in Canada. This was observed among both men and women.
These results highlight the importance of looking at the entire employment trajectory when examining employment quality.
Another aspect of job security is the unionization rate. For example, landed immigrants, especially those who arrived in the country recently, had much lower unionization rates than Canadian-born individuals, both among women and men.
Statistics Canada is working closely with a number of provincial, federal and international partners, including Employment and Social Development Canada, or ESDC, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC, to enhance, refine and standardize employment quality indicators and get a better understanding of the employment trajectory.
Thanks to information from the longitudinal immigration database, which was developed in partnership with IRCC, we can analyze the employment trajectory of immigrants to better understand their labour market reality.
Finally, I'd like to mention some of Statistics Canada's recent initiatives to enhance the information available on the labour market. First, we understand that communities throughout the country, from large urban centres to rural areas, need reliable, timely information on the labour market.
We are currently exploring innovative statistical methods to provide more labour market information to more communities across Canada. We are also working closely with our colleagues at IRCC to refine labour market information on immigrants, using administrative data, for example.
We are also evaluating the possibility of producing reliable, timely data on the labour market status of immigrants based on their immigrant category. Third, together with ESDC, we recently made administrative data on temporary foreign workers available to our researchers. This information on labour demand enriches the information on the labour supply of temporary foreign workers. These data will help our researchers analyze the employment situation of these workers in the context of a tighter labour market.
That concludes my presentation, Madam Chair.
I hope that this brief overview of Canada's recent labour market supply and demand dynamics will be useful to the committee.
I would be more than happy to answer your questions.
Results: 1 - 48 of 48

Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data