Commissioner: Good news for official languages as support remains high across Canada
For immediate release
Gatineau, Quebec, February 24, 2022 – Today, Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge released the findings of recent public opinion survey on official languages, which indicate that Canadians’ support for official languages is very high, at 87% overall.
The survey, conducted for the Commissioner by Environics Research last fall, aimed to gauge Canadians’ current attitudes toward the Official Languages Act and official bilingualism in Canada. The overall survey findings are consistent with the results of 2016, indicating that Canadians’ support for official bilingualism remains strong.
Importantly, support for the Official Languages Act is not dependent on the ability to speak both languages. While 9 out of 10 bilingual Canadians support the aims of the Act, more than 8 out of 10 unilingual Canadians do as well. For survey respondents in all regions, the most commonly cited reason for supporting the Act was that it recognizes Canada’s history, status and culture as a bilingual country.
Beyond questions about general support, the survey delved into Canadians’ perspectives on important issues relating to official languages, including education and diversity.
According to the survey, a strong majority of Canadians support second-language education and want both English and French to continue to be taught in elementary schools across Canada and second-language learning to be generally more accessible.
The public opinion results point to a positive link between diversity and official languages: a strong majority of Canadians agree that official languages and other forms of diversity can go hand in hand, and can even strengthen each other. In fact, Canadians from diverse backgrounds agreed that having two official languages can actually help reinforce other forms of diversity. Notably, most Canadians agreed that “Canada can and should promote both official languages and Indigenous languages at the same time.”
The survey showed that Canadians are also in favour of measures to support official language minorities, which include the English-speaking community in Quebec and over a million French speakers who live in provinces and territories outside Quebec.
Public support for our official languages has shown to be resilient over time and official bilingualism remains a core value across the country. With an updated Official Languages Act in close sight, we are moving into a period of enormous potential for official languages. However, we must not take Canadians’ high level of support for official languages for granted. This widespread public support should be backed by strong policies and initiatives from governments at all levels, to promote the value of our official languages throughout Canada.
- The Commissioner’s survey was carried out between September and October 2021 and included a national telephone probability survey of 1,507 adult Canadians (margin of error +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20) and a national online panel survey of 1,500 adult Canadians. Specific figures mentioned in this press release refer to the telephone survey results.
- The survey shows the highest levels of support for the aims of the Official Languages Act in Quebec (95%), Ontario (87%), British Columbia and the Territories (87%), and the Atlantic region (86%). Support is 80% in Alberta and 78% in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Regional changes from the 2016 results were within the margins of error.
- In terms of age groups, Canadians 18 to 34 years old showed the highest level of support (90%).