Statement from the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada on the release of Census data on language of instruction and language of work
For immediate release
Gatineau, Quebec, November 30, 2022 – Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge made the following statement today upon the release of the latest Census data related to official languages:
“Decision-makers at all levels should take stock of the Census data released today. The ways we use English and French in educational and work settings have a direct impact on official language communities in every province and territory.
“For the first time, Census data can be used to estimate the numbers of children eligible for instruction in the minority official language and can also provide information on immersion education. According to the data, one third of eligible children across the country have never attended school in the official language of the linguistic minority. Governments at all levels need to do more to ensure that rights holders can send their children to school in the official language of the linguistic minority. That said, I’m very pleased that we now have this important Census data, given how it could influence generations to come. In the future, we’ll be able to compare data and analyze trends to ensure that minority language educational rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are respected.
“The data also shows how important French immersion programs are for English-speaking children across Canada. Although the data on French immersion in Quebec was not available, we can still see that 16% of school-aged children outside Quebec have been in an immersion program. Being bilingual creates opportunities and can contribute significantly to the use of both official languages in Canadian society. The new Census data shows, for example, that immersion graduates are a major contributing factor in the use of French in the workplace.
“The latest language-of-work data confirms that English and French are the primary languages of communication in Canadian workplaces, with almost 99% of workers using them. Although Statistics Canada notes that comparing 2021 data with 2016 data should be done with some degree of caution, we can still see a decline in the use of French as the primary language of work in some regions of the country. I encourage policy-makers to examine this new data—especially in terms of the possible links between language of instruction and language of work—and to do more to promote the use of French in the workplace.
“Moving forward, the federal government will need to take stock of all of the 2021 Census data relating to official languages and use it to develop its programs and initiatives, including the next Action Plan for Official Languages, which is set to begin in April 2023. In order to attain equality of status and use of both our official languages in Canadian society, English and French need to receive the necessary support, and government spending needs to achieve results.”