ARCHIVED - Chapter 4: Official Language Minority Communities: Triving in the Public Space, from Coast to Coast to Coast

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1.0 The evolution of official language minority communities since the 1960s

Anglophones and Francophones have lived side-by-side in Canada since the second half of the 18th century. In the 1960s, as today, Francophones were mainly concentrated in Quebec, the Atlantic provinces and Eastern Ontario, but there were also French-speaking communities all across Canada. For their part, Anglophones formed the linguistic majority in all Canadian provinces except Quebec.

1.1 The evolution of French-speaking communities outside Quebec

Forty years ago, the situation of Francophones in minority-language communities was difficult. French was so absent from the public sphere that the members of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (the B and B Commission) did not hesitate to echo sociologist Jacques Brazeau, who wrote that, in several respects, French was an “unused language.”1

Members of the B and B Commission felt that this situation had to be rectified, as it resulted in the underdevelopment and gradual assimilation of minority Francophone communities. In their eyes, Canada should aim for a “real equality of opportunity […] ensuring that the fact of speaking English or French would be neither a help nor a handicap to a person seeking entry into the institutions affecting our individual and collective life.”2

The federal government reacted to the publication of the Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism by passing the Official Languages Act in 1969. In 1978, it added certain language provisions to the Criminal Code, and then adopted the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

The courts have often been called upon to interpret the language guarantees set forth in these legislative texts, and some of these judgments have greatly contributed to enhancing the vitality of official language minority communities.

Nevertheless, as shown by the amendments made to Part VII of the Act in 2005, the time has now come for more than just defensive language strategies. No longer merely seeking to survive, official language communities have never before had such a desire to flourish, nor such means to do so.

“These days, we talk about health in terms of improving well-being, that is, no longer simply in terms of the absence of disease. I am happy to see that when we talk about community vitality, we are broadening this idea beyond the mere absence of assimilation.”3

– Gratien Allaire, historian, Laurentian University, Sudbury

1.2 The evolution of English-speaking communities in Quebec

While minority Francophone communities have progressively carved out their place in the public sphere since the end of the 1960s, many English-speaking Quebecers felt that they did not occupy their rightful place in Quebec after the election of the Parti Québécois and the adoption of the Charter of the French Language in 1977.

Inevitably, the introduction of strong policies to promote French in the Quebec public sphere profoundly changed relations between Quebec’s Francophone majority and its English-speaking communities. That said, certain court judgments were necessary to ensure that the measures taken to promote French respected the rights of English-speaking Quebecers.

Some of these rulings, the general open-mindedness shown by the Francophone majority and a strong willingness to adapt, on the part of hundreds of thousands of English-speaking Quebecers set on staying in Quebec, all helped establish a climate conducive to social harmony in this province.

Despite this, fear of disappearing endures on both sides. At the conference Community Revitalization: Trends and Opportunities for the English-Speaking Communities of Quebec, former commissioner Goldbloom pointed out that Anglo-Quebecers continue to fear that the weakening of their institutions (for example, the closure of some Montréal English-language schools due to decreasing enrolment, or hospital closures such as that of the Sherbrooke Hospital) only diminishes the vitality of their communities.4

2.0 The new environment of official language communities

Today, the future of minority Anglophone and Francophone communities is promising. This is due to a variety of factors.

Firstly, the desire of minority Francophone communities to use their language in the public sphere, while at the same time contributing, along with the Anglophone majority, to the development of their municipality or province, has continued to increase over the past 40 years. Furthermore, English-speaking Quebecers have never ceased to work towards the development of their schools, hospitals and socio-cultural institutions, and to fully participate in Quebec society.

 

Official language communities: A changing identity

The identity of Anglophone and Francophone minority communities is rapidly changing. Members of official language communities no longer identify themselves solely with their language group. For example, in Quebec, 40% of English speakers identify themselves as much with the Francophone majority as with the Anglophone minority, although they do not place any less importance on access to federal services in English.5 Furthermore, data collected by Statistics Canada as part of the survey on the vitality of official language communities6 shows that a large proportion of Francophones who have adopted English as their main language still expect some services in French. As for young Anglophones and Francophones from official language communities, they increasingly declare that they have a “bilingual” or “bicultural” identity. Th ese phenomena show that linguistic behaviour is complex, and that it is difficult to define the “Anglophone” or “Francophone” identity.

Secondly, the importance of language skills and of the ability of official language communities to adapt and to develop networks is gaining increasing recognition in the globalized world in which Canada continues to evolve. For example, in Quebec, business leaders are increasingly aware, particularly in the key sectors of information technology, aero space and life sciences, that Anglophones are very well positioned to bridge the gap between the Francophone majority and their international clients and suppliers.7 As for the Agence nationale et internationale du Manitoba, it draws on the Franco-Manitoban community’s resources in order to position provincial businesses in markets like Quebec, France and Belgium.

Thirdly, by breaking down boundaries, information technology provides official language communities with tremendous opportunities to work cooperatively with one another or to forge ties with people who speak the same language in other provinces or countries. For example, the Internet enables students from French-speaking communities to consult French-language library collections on-line that were not readily available to them in the past. For their part, telehealth services of such institutions as the Montreal Children’s Hospital allow Anglophones in remote regions of Quebec to consult specialist pediatricians without having to travel.

Fourthly, the popularity of Canada as a hospitable country, the openness of official language communities to immigrants who speak the same language and Canadians’ welcoming of these immigrants mean that official language communities are in a good position to mitigate their demographic decline and to benefit from the contribution of newcomers from outside Canada.

3.0 A vision of official language communities focused on their vitality

Convinced of a realistic and strong vision focused on the full development of official language communities, rather than on their mere survival, the Office of the Commissioner launched a large research program on the vitality of these communities in 2006.

First was the publication of a document entitled A Sharper View: Evaluating the Vitality of Official Language Minority Communities,8 which provided an overview of current knowledge on this issue. The Commissioner’s efforts continued in 2007 with the launch of a study on the vitality of three French-speaking communities in urban settings: those of Winnipeg, Sudbury and Halifax.9

The Commissioner is pleased that these communities have continued the work initiated in this study. For example, the Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario du Grand Sudbury and the Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité de l’Ontario brought together different partners to produce the first state of affairs for the Francophonie of Greater Sudbury in November 2008. This largescale gathering was made possible by the planning work of participants in eight sectoral tables and by the efforts of a team of experienced researchers, and enabled the French-speaking community of this region to adopt a common vision. It also led players in priority areas to commit to actively taking part in the follow-ups.

The Commissioner continued his research program on the vitality of official language communities by examining the situation in three English-speaking communities in Quebec: those of the Eastern Townships, Québec City and the Lower North Shore.10 The publication of this study led to a meeting on June 20, 2008, that helped the Lower North Shore fishing community to start identifying the most pressing challenges that need to be addressed in order to enhance its vitality.11

In the fall of 2008, the Commissioner initiated a study on the vitality of three Western Canadian Francophone communities in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. In 2010, the Office of the Com mis sioner, Canadian Heritage and the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities will publish a study on the vitality of three Francophone communities located in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

 

English-speaking Quebecers aged 16 to 29 are confident about the future

In 2008, the Quebec Community Groups Net work (QCGN) held consultations and meetings that gave several hundred young English-speaking Quebecers an opportunity to reflect together on their community’s key challenges.

The QCGN’s work demonstrates that English-speaking Quebecers aged 16 to 29 have a positive vision of their future. These young Quebecers want to stay in Quebec and contribute to the development of Quebec society, while also preserving their cultural heritage and identity. They want to be bilingual and would like to improve their relations with young Francophones. They also want their participation in society to take place as part of a “collaborative and inclusive youth-led approach.”12

4.0 The Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality 2008–2013: Acting for the Future and the communities

In June 2008, the Government of Canada launched the Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality 2008–2013: Acting for the Future, with an investment of $1.1 billion in the following five areas for action:

  • Emphasizing the value of linguistic duality among all Canadians;
  • Investing in youth;
  • Improving access to services for official language communities;
  • Capitalizing on economic benefits;
  • Improving governance.

The government has chosen to build on what it already has in place. The Roadmap 2008–2013 renews several support programs for official language communities and includes a new support component for arts and culture.

This plan does, however, have some major shortcomings. First, the fact that a new and ambitious vision for the development of official language communities is not proposed to Canadians is unfortunate.

It is also regrettable that, even though the funding announced in the Roadmap 2008–2013 will permit the activities that have been undertaken to continue, it will not be sufficient to meet all the new challenges that communities will face between now and 2013.

Furthermore, the Roadmap 2008–2013 does not set out specific targets to guide federal institutions in their efforts to support official language communities.

Finally, the federal government stresses that it is important for Canada to build the future by investing in young people, but it does not allocate any specific funding to youth groups from official language communities, nor does it clearly identify whether the described programs have a youth component.

The Commissioner deplores the fact that the government took several months to announce its first measures under the Roadmap 2008–2013.

Despite a few recent announcements, the Commissioner believes that this delay is unfortunate and that the government should make up for this lost time as quickly as possible in the interest of ensuring the sustainable development of the official language communities.

5.0 Analysis of the situation of the official language communities in six areas of activity

The situation of Anglophones and Francophones in minority contexts varies from one area of activity to another. However, in each area, the government will have to take vigorous measures in order to achieve the dynamic vision that these communities have of their future.

The Commissioner outlines a vision for each of the following areas of activity:

  • Education: Not only do English- and Frenchspeaking children and students in minority communities have the opportunity to learn in their language, starting in early childhood, in institutions governed by their communities, but the instruction they receive is also of a quality equal to that in majority communities’ institutions.

  • Community economic development: Official language minority communities have the infrastructure, resources and tools they need to implement sustainable community economic development and human resources development initiatives, which enable them to contribute to their vitality and to the economic growth of their region and province.

  • Justice: Individuals can fully exercise their right to use the official language of their choice, before federal courts, in a criminal matter or before the superior courts of justice of some provinces and territories in a civil matter.

  • Arts and culture: Artists as well as arts and culture organizations from official language minority communities are able to contribute in a meaningful and ongoing way to the cultural and artistic vitality of their community; community members have access to cultural and artistic activities presented in their language and originating from their community.

  • Health: Not only do members of official language minority communities have access to health care in their language in their region, but the health care offered is also of equal quality in either official language.

  • Demographic vitality
    • Immigration in minority Francophone communities: Minority Francophone communities welcome, integrate and retain an increasing number of newcomers, who enhance the vitality of these communities by actively contributing to their development.
    • Renewal of English-speaking communities in Quebec: English-speaking communities in Quebec have had many years of experience in immigration and integration, and they continue their work in order to ensure that English-speaking newcomers are integrated and actively contribute to the development of Quebec society.
5.1 Education

The Commissioner’s vision…

Not only do English- and French-speaking children and students in minority communities have the opportunity to learn in their language, starting in early childhood, in institutions governed by their communities, but the instruction they receive is also of a quality equal to that in majority communities’ institutions.

In Canada, as elsewhere, educational institutions must meet many challenges, such as recruitment of qualified teachers (especially in the most remote areas), accommodation for special-needs students and integration of technology into the classroom.

Schools in official language communities must also meet challenges that majority community schools do not have to face. Indeed, these institutions are one of the cornerstones of the vitality of the communities in which they are located, since their educational mandate includes a mission that is both cultural and community based. This explains why it is important for the communities to govern their own schools.

Since schools in minority Francophone settings play an important role as far as identity is concerned, the teachers who work there must receive training that is tailored to the specific challenges they will have to face. Unfortunately, a recent report from the Canadian Institute for Research on Public Policy and Public Administration, entitled Recrutement, maintien et formation du personnel scolaire dans les communautés francophones et acadienne en milieu minoritaire au Canada,13 shows that, in Canada, few French-language faculties of education offer courses that enable education students to familiarize themselves with school realities that are unique to minority communities. In general, future teachers also lack opportunities to familiarize themselves with the pedagogical approaches most likely to produce good results in a minority Francophone setting, and to apply these approaches in the class room. Th erefore, quick action is needed to meet the challenges facing teachers in minority communities.

 

Publication of a major report on official languages in education

In January 2009, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada published its Pan-Canadian Interim Report on Official Languages in Education 2005–2006/2006–2007.14 This document describes the initiatives that were launched by provinces and territories in recent years, in the wake of the action plans they developed in compliance with the Official Languages in Education Protocol.

The Interim Report describes some interesting initiatives. For instance, the document Présence de Gabrielle Roy : un outil pédagogique was distributed in French-language schools in Manitoba in order to foster identity- and culture-building among young Francophones. In Ontario, the province’s Frenchlanguage educational and cultural public television network (TFO) specifically produced television programs, Web sites and on-line educational content based on the Ontario curriculum.

Each provincial and territorial government must nevertheless continue the work that has been undertaken, in order to move forward on the implementation of its action plan.

Th e lack of resources at a number of French-language school boards is another obstacle that, in many parts of the country, can lead to a decrease of the programs and learning options available to students in French-language schools. To ensure that these students have equal opportunities to succeed, it will be important to provide for more activities and teaching material tailored to their specific needs.

Since enrolment inevitably has an impact on the resources available to an educational institution and on the quality of instruction, it will be important to ensure that enrolment in schools in French-speaking communities increases, or at least stabilizes.

To increase or maintain enrolment in minority French-language schools, all stakeholders will be required to step up their efforts to help schools in French-speaking communities attract and retain eligible students.15

In some cases, this will mean taking measures to encourage Francophone parents to enrol their children in a French-language school. Many do not do so, especially during the transition to secondary school. For example, in the Greater Toronto Area, approxi mately only 20% of school-age Francophones currently attend a school in the French-language system.16

In other cases, stakeholders will have to avoid adopting measures that adversely aff ect the vitality of Francophone schools. For example, the Govern ment of the Northwest Territories developed a direc tive that limits the enrolment of eligible students in schools that belong to the French-language school board. Th is government could have opted to expand the French-language school (École Boréale) in Hay River so that it could accept more students. Some school boards fear that other provinces or territories may apply this restrictive practice.17

As Canada welcomes a large number of immigrants each year, schools in French-speaking communities will have to ensure that their ability to welcome and integrate young newcomers increases. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that the Association cana dienne d’éducation de langue française has produced a report explaining to stakeholders in education how policies can be developped specifi cally to promote cultural diversity in the school systems.

Various measures will also have to be taken in order to revitalize Quebec’s English-language schools, particularly in the Quebec regions facing a signifi cant demographic decline. In particular, public stakeholders will have to redevelop the often aging infrastructure of the English-language school boards. Th ey will need to improve the support provided to English-speaking students with learning disabilities. They will also have to take vigorous measures to ensure that all young English-speaking Quebecers, when they graduate, are proficient enough in French to find good jobs and stay in their communities.

 

Bill 104

In 2002, with Bill 104, Quebec amended section 73 of the Charter of the French Language, by excluding instruction received in a private non-subsidized English school from the calculation to determine whether a child had received the “major part” of his or her education in English and should therefore have access to a public English-language school in Quebec. This bill was criticized because it restricts access to English-language schools that have already been hard hit by the demographic decline of Quebec’s English-speaking population.

In December 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the Nguyen18 and Bindra19 cases, which dealt with the constitutionality of Bill 104. The Commissioner intervened in these cases because the interpretation adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada regarding the scope of subsection 23(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms20 could have major repercussions on the preservation and development of offi cial language minority communities. Th e Commissioner asserted that the criteria adopted by the provinces for the purpose of applying subsection 23(2) should be consistent with the purpose and remedial nature of this provision, and that these criteria should ensure that children whose rights are meant to be protected are actually admitted to minoritylanguage schools.21

 

Promotion of French-language education

In 2008, various steps were taken to promote French-language education. For example, the Franco- Manitoban school division conducted consultations to determine how it could best take into account the needs of exogamous families (where one of the parents is not Francophone) without compromising the quality of education in French.22

Moreover, in the wake of the Sommet des intervenants et des intervenantes en éducation dans la mise en œuvre de l’article 23 en milieu francophone minoritaire, hosted by the Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones, the senior administrators of Alberta’s school board and different players in Alberta’s educational sector met in April 2008 during a forum for communicators.23 Among other things, this meeting enabled participants “to consolidate local communication initiatives from each school board in order to extend their impact across the province”24 and, by doing so, to extend the reach of French-language boards and schools in the province.

Public stakeholders will also have to accelerate the availability of English-language textbooks, which teachers in the English-language system need in order to implement the curriculum reform intro duced by the Government of Quebec in 2000. In October 2008, the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) reported, for example, that in spite of some progress, not all the new math textbooks English-speaking students needed were available, even though the reform had already been put in place. Further more, the QPAT expressed its concern that it feared that some Grade 11 text books and resource kits would not be available in time for the 2009–2010 school year. Consequently, the QPAT requested that a “long-term solution that would ensure concurrent availa bility of English- and French-language textbooks be implemented.”25

Given this context, the federal government indicated in the Roadmap 2008–2013 that it would continue its financial support for provincial and territorial minority-language education programs.

It is unfortunate, however that it made no indication in the Roadmap 2008–2013 of its intention to take more vigorous action towards fostering a targeted increase in the percentage of eligible students who are enrolled in French-language schools.

The fact that the federal government did not use the launch of the Roadmap 2008–2013 to announce the implementation of more ambitious early childhood support programs in official language communities is regrettable. Indeed, children who attend day care centres that operate in the language of the majority do not benefit from precious years of socialization that would help them begin their education in a minority-language school. A comprehensive vision of education should include early childhood in order to allow children to start their learning at an earlier stage and to do so in a more coherent manner from the outset, in a system where they are likely to progress instead of having to adapt.

5.2 Community economic development

The Commissioner’s vision…

Official language minority communities have the infrastructure, resources and tools they need to implement sustainable community economic development and human resources development initiatives, which enable them to contribute to their vitality and to the economic growth of their region and province.

The economic situation of official language communities has generally improved since the 1960s, as has that of Canada’s provinces and territories. However, the significant decline, in recent decades, of certain industries that have historically fostered the development of official language communities has often led to an exodus of their members. For instance, the collapse of the fishery and forestry sectors has led many Acadians to leave for other regions or provinces.

Furthermore, some Anglophone and Francophone graduates leave their official language community— or choose not to return once they have completed their studies—because the community cannot offer them the employment or career opportunities they expect.

It is therefore important that the federal government announced, in the Roadmap 2008–2013, its intention to continue supporting community economic development and employability within official language communities by reinserting money into the Enabling Fund. This fund will allow the Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité (RDÉE)—for Canada’s Francophonie—as well as its Quebec counter part, the Community Table, to continue their work in such sectors as youth, tourism, rural development, community capacity building and entrepreneurship.

 

The Supreme Court of Canada in the Desrochers case

The Commissioner is pleased with the judgment rendered in February 2009 by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Desrochers case (often referred to as the CALDECH [Centre d’avancement de leadership et de développement économique communautaire de la Huronie] case), in which he was a co-appellant. CALDECH was created by Franco-Ontarians in order to address the shortcomings in the community economic development services offered by the North Simcoe Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) to the Francophone population of Huronia, Ontario.

The Supreme Court decision states that the “content of the principle of linguistic equality in government services is not necessarily uniform. It must be defined in light of the nature and purpose of the service in question. Let us consider the community economic development program in the case at bar. […] it is difficult to imagine how the federal institution [the CFDC] could provide the community economic development services mentioned in this description without the participation of the targeted communities in both the development and the implementation of programs. Th at is the very nature of the service provided by the federal institution. It necessarily follows […] that the communities could ultimately expect to have distinct content that varied ‘greatly from one community to another, depending on priorities established’ by the communities themselves.”26

 

Economic development projects that yield results

In February 2009, the Commissioner took part in the signing of a major memorandum of understanding under which the Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité (RDÉE) Canada and the Canadian Tourism Commission committed to collaborate on the international promotion of Francophone products and tourist destinations in Canada. It should be noted that these organizations did not wait to sign this memorandum to work together towards promoting minority Francophone communities in preparation for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

In 2008, the Entrepreneur Support Network, created by the Community Economic Development and Employability Committee (CEDEC) in south-western Quebec, continued expanding. This group, which supports the efforts of Quebec’s Anglophone entrepreneurs at every stage of their business’s development, recorded an increase in members this year. It has also acquired a second location on Montréal’s South Shore. Members of the Entrepreneur Support Network mainly share services and help each other in finding new clients. Entrepreneurs devoted over 400 hours of volunteer work to the Network’s activities in 2008–2009.

Fortunately, the Roadmap 2008–2013 provides funding for new initiatives by Industry Canada and the different regional economic development agencies operating in the country. The measures taken by these institutions should allow the members of Anglophone and Francophone communities to acquire the skills they will need to succeed in business.

Furthermore, the Government of Canada announced in the Roadmap 2008–2013 that the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec (CED) would receive $10.2 million to support the economic development of Anglophone communities. At the same time, the CED was criticized for changes made to its funding policy for economic development non-profit organizations. Youth Employment Services (YES) Montreal, the only English-language non-profit organization that provides support services exclusively to the small businesses of Quebec’s Anglophone communities, is one of the organizations affected by these changes.

In order to take into account the needs and challenges of the various regions of Quebec and the current economic situation, in March 2009, the CED announced that it would show greater flexibility in its policy regarding the funding of economic development non-profit organizations.

The CED will continue funding projects that are related to its mandate and objectives. The Office of the Commissioner welcomes this initiative, but will follow the situation closely to ensure that the Anglophone communities can continue to receive business-related services from YES.

Accordingly, the Commissioner hopes that the minister responsible for the CED will quickly review its approach to supporting English-speaking communities in Quebec. The CED should take into consideration the crucial role played by some non-profit organizations in the areas of economic development and youth in English-speaking minority communities.

The economic vitality of the country’s official language communities will depend largely on their ability to offer their members, in particular youth and newcomers, the opportunity to find good jobs in their region, to hone their skills or to start their own business. As the economic and social situation of official language communities varies greatly from one place to another, depending on the prevailing business conditions or the available infrastructure and resources, the federal government will have to intervene in ways specifically tailored to each situation.

One initiative that has yielded interesting results is Place aux jeunes du Québec. The purpose of the Place aux jeunes du Québec program, created in the late 1980s, is to “[promote] the migration, establish ment and retention of youth aged 18 to 35 in the regions.”27 To achieve these objectives, the heads of Place aux jeunes du Québec design activities that aim to enhance young people’s sense of belonging to their community, and to provide individual support to youth wishing to settle in or return to the regions.

In 2005, the results achieved in Quebec thanks to Place aux jeunes du Québec prompted the Rural Secretariat of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and federal partners to provide funding to the program for the implementation of similar projects in bilingual communities in Manitoba and the Yukon. To this end, Place aux jeunes du Québec called upon the support and know-how of the Economic Development Council for Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities and the RDÉE Yukon. The activities undertaken have been successful, and the program continues, even though agreements with the Rural Secretariat ended in 2008.28

In November 2008, Place aux jeunes du Québec partnered with the RDÉE Newfoundland and Labrador in order to support the implementation of projects aimed at countering the out-migration of Francophones from the Port-au-Port region and at attracting qualifi ed French-speaking workers.29

5.3 Justice

The Commissoner’s vision…

Individuals can fully exercise their right to use the official language of their choice, before federal courts, in a criminal matter or before the superior courts of justice of some provinces and territories in a civil matter.

The situation of official language communities in terms of justice has improved over the past 40 years, but the problems they face in this area are far from being fully solved.

It is commendable that, in 2008, the Criminal Code was amended to clarify the provisions related to the language rights of the accused, as well as to clarify and codify the current state of the law concerning the language of proceedings. For example, all accused persons must now be advised of their right to proceedings in the official language of their choice; in the past, only those who were not repre sented by a lawyer had this right.

However, it is regrettable that, in criminal matters, citizens are often unable to exercise their fundamental right to use the official language of their choice in the superior courts of the provinces and territories. It is also regrettable that, in civil matters, Canadians are often unable to use either English or French in the superior courts of provinces and territories that have enacted legislation to this effect. In fact, in 2009, the shortage of bilingual judges in the provincial and territorial superior courts is still a major obstacle to exercising these rights.

A similar situation prevails in the federal courts.30 In fact, the linguistic capacity in these courts is sometimes so weak that, in spite of their efforts, the courts are unable to fulfill their language obligations under the Act.

The Commissioner and various House of Commons and Senate committees have repeated time and again that, to address the linguistic shortcomings of Canada’s superior courts of justice, it should be mandatory, in the judicial appointment process, to take into account the linguistic needs to be met in the region with the vacant judicial position, as well as the current linguistic capacities of the court where a replacement judge is necessary.

The Commissioner is delighted that the Roadmap 2008–2013 confirms the federal government’s intention to ensure Canadians have access to justice in the language of their choice. However, intensifying efforts to improve the language skills of Canadian court clerks, stenographers, justices of the peace or mediators does not address the shortage of bilingual judges.

 

Shortage of bilingual judges in Ontario

In 2008, during the Belende v. Patel case, the Ontario Court of Appeal reiterated the importance of taking into account the need for bilingual judges in regions required to offer bilingual proceedings. The Court thus emphasized that the right to bilingual proceedings is quasi-constitutional in Ontario, but that the current shortage of bilingual judges prevents this right from being fully exercised.

Likewise, there was reason for optimism when Th omas Cromwell, a bilingual judge on the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, was appointed to the position of Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada in December 2008. That said, nothing guarantees that the selection process used to fill future vacancies in the Supreme Court of Canada will result in the selection of bilingual candidates. In fact, the government has still not taken any steps to this effect.

Now that the Act is celebrating its 40th anniversary and that federal statutes are drafted in both official languages, knowledge of English and French should be recognized as an essential skill for candidates to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. A bill was tabled to this effect in March 2009 in order to add bilingualism as a new condition for appointing judges to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Commissioner is satisfied with recent proposed amendments to the Supreme Court of Canada Act and the Official Languages Act, which were tabled in Parliament in 2008 (but died on the order paper), and sought to give concrete expression to this objective.

The legal requirement of such an obligation would demonstrate to Canadians the federal government’s commitment to linguistic duality and its desire to ensure full respect for the needs of official language communities.

 

Television production and the place of French on the Air

In January 2009, the Commissioner published a major study entitled Shadows over the Canadian Television Landscape: The Place of French on the Air and Production in a Minority Context.31 This study presents the issues related to television production in a minority context and the place of French in children’s and youth programming in the country. The Commissioner recommends, among other things, that Canadian Heritage and its partners, including the CRTC, devise a joint strategy to better support the production and broadcasting of television products for official language communities. He also states that federal stakeholders must redouble their efforts so that broadcast television production and distribution can give greater leverage to the development of official language communities, as well as contribute to the vitality of the French language.

Anglophone producers in Quebec are faced with a very different reality and specific challenges, because they are exposed to a large number of North American products and because they must compete with national production houses in large centres such as Toronto and Vancouver, and international production houses as well.

5.4 Arts and culture

The Commissioner’s vision…

Artists as well as arts and culture organizations from official language minority communities are able to contribute in a meaningful and ongoing way to the cultural and artistic vitality of their commu nity; community members have access to cultural and artistic activities presented in their language and originating from their community.

The arts and culture are not only important in and of themselves, but they are also important because they help communities in the “development of social capital and the organizational capacity to respond to change.”32

Th is realization led the Commissioner to recommend, in the 2008 study entitled Federal Government Support for the Arts and Culture in Official Language Minority Communities, that the Government of Canada should work closely with arts and culture organizations in Anglophone and Francophone communities to develop a comprehensive, coherent vision of arts and culture in official language com munities. The Commissioner also recommended that the Roadmap 2008–2013 should include support for arts and culture in these communities.

Th e Commissioner considers that the federal govern ment has taken a step in the right direction by adding an “arts and culture” section in the Roadmap 2008–2013. More specifically, the govern ment plans on investing $23.5 million, between now and 2013, to foster development of the arts and culture sector in official language communities. One example is the Cultural Development Fund, which will serve, among other things, to support the acces sibility and development of the cultural products of these communities.

However, the Commissioner is not pleased that the Government of Canada has not yet developed a comprehensive, coherent vision of the role of arts and culture in official language communities. One hopes that this shortcoming will be remedied in the coming months.

In June 2008, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages and Minister for La Francophonie at the time launched the Roadmap 2008–2013. Under this initiative, the Minister also announced that the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) would examine accessibility and the quality of broadcast services offered to minority Anglo phone and Francophone communities. As a result, the Governor in Council issued Order in Council P.C. 2008-1293 requiring the CRTC to report on the issue before March 31, 2009.

The CRTC has held public hearings in order to obtain comments from the public regarding this issue. The process included written observations and a public hearing during the week of January 13, 2009.

On January 16, 2009, the Commissioner used these hearings to reaffirm that the CRTC must ensure official language communities have access to broadcasting services that foster their vitality and development in their own language and that reflect local and regional realities.33

Some decisions made by the federal government in 2008 are unfortunately disappointing. In particular, the federal government decided last year to make major cuts (more than $44 million) to Canadian programs supporting arts and culture. The Commissioner is currently investigating a complaint alleging that the Government of Canada made this decision without taking into account the needs of official language communities and the challenges they face. This complaint also points out that these communities were not consulted about the decision even though they should have been, pursuant to Part VII of the Act.

5.5 Health

The Commissioner’s vision…

Not only do members of official language minority communities have access to health care in their language in their region, but the health care offered is also of equal quality in either official language.

Health is a question of great concern to official language communities in Canada.34 Over the past 40 years, the perseverance of minority Francophone communities has been a key factor in improving access to health care in their language. One need only recall the struggle led by Franco-Ontarians to keep open the only Francophone community hospital in Ontario. Perseverance was a necessary condition but not a sufficient one. Th e cooperation of public players, including the federal government, and some important court decisions were also necessary.

 

Health in French and reforms in Ontario and New Brunswick

Two recent provincial health care reforms demonstrate the vulnerability of certain achie vements by official language communities.

In Ontario, the government would like Francophone networks to henceforth limit themselves to providing the government with advice on health care in French and leave the responsibility of managing and coordinating services offered in French to the government. For their part, Franco-Ontarians claim that they must be able to control their own institutions so that these institutions can adequately meet their needs. To ensure that the needs of the Franco-Ontarian community are taken into account, Ontario’s French Language Services Commissioner indicated in November 2008 that the new local health system integration networks “must have a French language services coordinator.”35

In October 2008, in New Brunswick, representatives of the Acadian community began court proceedings against the government of that province because the government had decided unilaterally to consolidate the province’s eight former health authorities—one of which, the Beausejour Authority, was exclusively Francophone—under two large bodies, one Anglophone and the other bilingual.

In spite of this, too many Francophones must still make do with health care offered in the language of the majority. Services in French are non-existent in several provinces in the country and, across the country, six out of ten Francophones in minority communities must communicate in English with their family physician.36

In Quebec, successive health system reforms have led to closures of certain Anglophone institutions. However, thanks to persistent efforts by the Anglophone communities, the majority of them have been preserved, or transformed into clinic services, as was the case with the Jeffery Hale Hospital in Québec City. However, an aging population, especially among English-speaking Quebecers, has led to an increase in the need for long-term and palliative health care. The lack of service in English for this aging population makes elderly Englishspeaking Quebecers even more vulnerable. Furthermore, three out of every ten English-speaking Quebecers must still make do with being served in French by their family physician.37

Promising measures were taken in the framework of the Action Plan for Official Languages to enable Francophone communities to obtain better access to primary health care and health promotion services in French, as well as to ensure that shortcomings in the health care offered to English-speaking Quebecers, especially outside Montréal, are finally corrected.

For example, the activities of the Consortium national de formation en santé have resulted in a spectacular increase in recruitment of students interested in health professions in minority Francophone communities. For its part, Société Santé en français has built 17 regional and provincial networks of partners that have become a mouthpiece for the provinces and can therefore help provincial governments better understand the particular needs of Francophone communities.

In Quebec, the activities supported under the Action Plan 2003–2008 have particularly helped to increase the ability of health care professionals to provide health care in English. This plan has also made it possible to help the Anglophone communities define and voice their expectations, as well as to launch projects in telehealth, which is a highly promising area.

The Roadmap 2008–2013 allocates funds to promote linguistic duality in the health sector, increasing from $119 million to $174 million over five years. This increase is a good sign, even though this new amount is lower than what the official language communities would have liked to see invested in the health sector.

In fact, the need will increase over the coming years. On the one hand, measures will have to be taken to help health professionals settle in official language communities and stay there in the long term. On the other hand, the work of the Société Santé en français has made it possible, thus far, to lay the groundwork. Nevertheless, new services will have to be created in the coming years in order to meet the needs of the communities. That said, these initiatives will require more significant sums of money than did the preparatory work of years past.

Moreover, the reforms carried out to improve the effeciency of provincial or territorial health systems sometimes act to thwart the progress achieved by official language communities. (See text box entitled “Health in French and reforms in Ontario and New Brunswick.”)

Consequently, the Commissioner believes that the federal government should support the provinces and territories to ensure that, in the health sector, the care offered is of equal quality in either official language and that the communities’ needs are met.

There is also an important obstacle that is considerably slowing down progress in the establishment of health care services in French. This problem is the insufficient amount of data concerning the health of Francophones in minority communities and the ability of health professionals to provide care in French. Several surveys on health carried out by Statistics Canada and by other government agencies, including the Canadian Institute for Health Information, do not include a language variable, and the administrative health databases, both federal and provincial, usually disregard the linguistic aspect.

This lack of data and the limited knowledge resulting from it significantly compromises service planning and even results in the under-utilization of available services. Equality of service implies the right to be taken into account in research, planning and policies. Without access to such data, it cannot be said that Francophones are obtaining equal service from the organizations in question.

5.6 Demographic vitality

The importance of population renewal in official language communities and the interest these communities place on the question of immigration are easy to understand, given the repercussions that demographic decline, mainly caused by the outmigration of young people and the aging of the population, can have on a society.

This is why Francophone and Anglophone communities both seek to attract newcomers in their regions. However, the issues linked to the revitalization of official language communities—and, as a result, the measures needed to help them flourish—are not the same for Francophones as for Anglophones.

5.6.1. Immigration in minority Francophone communities

The Commissioner’s vision…

Minority Francophone communities welcome, integrate and retain an increasing number of newcomers, who enhance the vitality of these communities by actively contributing to their development.

In 2003, the Canadian government announced in the Action Plan 2003–2008 its intention to allocate $9 million to launching projects that support immigration in Francophone communities across the country.

In 2003, the Strategic Framework to Foster Immigration to Francophone Minority Communities established, as the first objective of the federal government, that 4.4% of the immigrants who arrive in Canada every year and who settle outside Quebec should be French speaking. In 2006, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada–Francophone Minority Communities Steering Committee estimated at that time that it could take about 15 years to reach this goal.

The efforts made so far to support immigration in Francophone communities have produced modest results. However, it is worth reiterating that every step taken in the direction of the 4.4% objective established under the Strategic Framework matters. Thus, the integration of a single immigrant family in a small Francophone community can make a big difference.

The Commissioner is pleased that, in 2008, the federal government announced in the Roadmap 2008–2013 that it would continue the work already begun by investing in the implementation of initiatives designed to encourage immigration to Francophone communities. The fact that the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency has received $10 million over five years to attract more Francophone immigrants to New Brunswick is especially noteworthy. The Commissioner notes, however, that the federal government seems to have slowed down its activities in this regard. It will be important for the Steering Committee and the Implementation Committee responsible for the application of the Strategic Plan to continue the work carried out with federal and provincial institutions to ensure that the objectives of the Strategic Framework are met and that existing support measures are continually improved.

In 2008, Citizenship and Immigration Canada amended the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Among other things, these amendments allow the minister to select economic class immigrants based on shortages in different sectors of the labour market. The Commissioner is concerned about the fact that the Department seems to have overlooked the possible repercussions of these changes on Francophone communities. Citizenship and Immigration Canada must cooperate with the Steering Committee to ensure that meeting the objectives of this act does not neutralize the efforts of the Strategic Plan.

In summary, integrating immigrants into Francophone communities poses considerable challenges, which will require vigorous and innovative solutions. It certainly seems possible to expand and reinforce the Francophone space thanks to immigration, “but, if concerted efforts are not made for integration, one can hardly expect that the simple ‘recruitment’ of Francophone immigrants will change the dynamics of the language in Francophone communities.”38

5.6.2. Renewal of English-speaking communities in Quebec

The Commissioner’s vision…

English-speaking communities in Quebec have had many years of experience in immigration and integration, and they continue their work in order to ensure that English-speaking newcomers are integrated and actively contribute to the development of Quebec society.

The issue of immigration is different in Quebec, since the English-speaking communities have already benefited for several decades from the addition of newcomers. In fact, the proportion of English-speaking newcomers who settle in this province remains strong, and the number of immigrants capable of becoming fluent in this language on arrival has risen. In Montréal, for instance, the dynamic cultural scene and the city’s unique cosmopolitan character attract and retain many young musicians, artists and others from all over.39

Although the situation varies greatly from one region to another, some members of the English-speaking communities have many years of experience in integrating newcomers and managing cultural diversity.

Over the years, the Anglophone communities have been able to draw on this experience to ensure that English-speaking newcomers obtain all the assistance they need with job searching or language teaching in order to integrate into Quebec society, while preserving their special ties to the Anglophone community.

The English-speaking communities in Quebec would benefit from being able to share their experience in immigration and in taking into account diversity, and would also benefit from actively participating in public debates on the issue.

Moreover, it would be important for English-speaking community organizations to obtain the resources they need to continue working on integrating new comers and helping them realize their full potential in Quebec.

6.0 Conclusion: Need for vigorous action on the part of the federal government

Official language communities have made important gains in the past years, but the federal government must ensure stronger compliance with Part VII of the Act, to help these communities fully develop in all areas of activity.

This means that federal institutions must seek to work more closely with official language communities and must ensure that all of their programs are reviewed in light of Part VII of the Act.

To better support the communities, federal insti tutions must then collaborate more, so that the relatively limited funds available to them are used more effectively.

The federal government and other levels of government must also focus on joint efforts to enhance the vitality of official language communities. In this regard, it is worth remembering that, at the 13th Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie, held in Québec City in September 2008, provincial and territorial ministers reaffirmed “their desire to enhance their partnership with the [...] federal government with regard to the implementation of the Roadmap [2008–2013].”40 The Govern ment of Canada must make sure that it takes advantage of this opportunity.

In a context where achieving concrete results and ensuring accountability are more and more important, it is also crucial that federal institutions work together with communities in order to select and prepare adapted performance indicators that can be understood by all.

Finally, in spite of the progress they have made over the years, official language communities must still all too often turn to the courts to have their language rights recognized or to ensure these rights are fully implemented. As a result, it is essential that the Government of Canada quickly set up the Program to Support Linguistic Rights, whose creation was announced in June 2008 and which is expected to be implemented between now and the end of December 2009.

 

Collaboration agreements to be reviewed

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages notes, in its report entitled The Collaboration Accords between Canadian Heritage and the Community Organizations – An Evolving Partnership,41 that the funding granted to official language minority communities no longer meets their “changing needs”42 and that the use of annual funding mechanisms does not allow them to “manage their development with a longer-term vision.”43

It is worth recalling that, after the Court Challenges Program was eliminated in 2006, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages intervened before the Federal Court, in support of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne. An out-of-court settlement led to the creation of the Program to Support Linguistic Rights.

This latest measure, like all of those proposed in this section, illustrates the federal government’s commitment to following up on the tremendous efforts of official language communities to carve out a space for themselves in the public sphere— a commitment that, at the same time, sends these communities a message that it would be worthwhile for them to plan for the future.

Recommendation

6th recommendation
The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Canadian Heritage and OfficialLanguages continue to fully implement, as quickly as possible, the commitments to officiallanguage minority communities in the Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality 2008–2013: Acting for the future

Notes

1. Jacques Brazeau, “Language Differences and Occupational Experience,” Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, November 1958, Vol. XXIX, p. 536.

2. André Laurendeau and A. Davidson Dunton (co-chairs), Report on the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, “Book 1: General Introduction – The Official Languages,” Ottawa, Queen’s Printer, 1967a, p. xlii.

3. Gratien Allaire, address at the Discussion Forum on the Vitality of Official Language Minority Communities, Ottawa, September 2005.

4. Summary report of proceedings held during the conference Community Revitalization: Trends and Opportunities for the English-Speaking Communities of Quebec at the Université de Montréal from February 29 to March 2, 2008. This report was released by Intersol on March 27, 2008.

5. Statistics Canada, Minorities Speak Up: Results of the Survey on the Vitality of Official-Language MinoritiesGovernment site, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 91-548-XWE, Ottawa, December 2007. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

6. Statistics Canada, Minorities Speak Up: Results of the Survey on the Vitality of Offi cial-Language MinoritiesGovernment site, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 91-548-XWE, Ottawa, December 2007. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

7. David Johnston, “‘Cultural shiftExternal site’ made English more acceptable,” The Gazette, January 29, 2009. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

8. Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, A Sharper View: Evaluating the Vitality of Official Language Minority Communities, Ottawa, 2006. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

9. Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Vitality Indicators for Official Language Minority Communities 1: Francophones in Urban Settings, Ottawa, 2007. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

10. Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Vitality Indicators for Official Language Minority Communities 2: Three English-Speaking Communities in Quebec, Ottawa, 2008. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

11. The leaders of the English-speaking community of the Lower North Shore believe, in particular, that the next generation is not aware of the opportunities available in the region. Awareness and promotion activities would help correct this problem. They also believe that the creation of camps and summer programs would help youth acquire the skills that would enable them to get the most out of what the region can offer them.

12. Quebec Community Groups Network, English-Speaking Youth Want to Contribute Fully to Quebec SocietyExternal site, news release, Montréal, 2009. Online version consulted March 31, 2009.

13. Daniel Bourgeois, Recrutement, maintien et formation du personnel scolaire dans les communautés francophones et acadienne en milieu minoritaire au Canada, Moncton, Canadian Institute for Research on Public Policy and Public Administration, 2008.

14. Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, Pan-Canadian Interim Report on Official Languages in Education 2005-2006/2006-2007External site, Toronto, 2008. On-line version consulted on March 31, 2009.

15. For a definition of “eligible students,” see Chapter 1, footnote 27.

16. Data from an internal analysis carried out by the Ontario Ministry of Education, based on data from the 2001 censes and school enrolments.

17. See especially Radio-Canada, Le Conseil des écoles fransaskoises veut se doter d’une politique plus claire en ce qui a trait à l’admission des nonayants-droitExternal site, 2008. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

18. Québec (Ministre de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport) v. Nguyen, case no. 32229, appeal heard by the Supreme Court of Canada December 15, 2008.

19. Québec (Ministre de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport) v. Bindra, case no. 32319, appeal heard by the Supreme Court of Canada December 15, 2008.

20. Subsection 23(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that “[c]itizens of Canada of whom any child has received or is receiving primary or secondary school instruction in English or French in Canada, have the right to have all their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in the same language.”

21. Commissioner of Official Languages, Factum of the Intervenor, Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada, factum presented to the Supreme Court of Canada, case no. 32229, 2008. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

22. Radio-Canada, La Division scolaire franco-manitobaine cherche des moyens de mieux intégrer dans ses activités les parents anglophonesExternal site, Sympatico / MSN Nouvelles, January 9, 2009. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

23. Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones, “Forum tenu en Alberta,” Bulletin d’informations de la FNCSFExternal site, Vol. 5, No. 1, October 2008, p. 4. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

24. Ibid.

25. Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers, L’Association provinciale des enseignantes et enseignants du Québec envoie une lettre ouverte à la ministre de l’Education Michelle Courchesne concernant les manuels scolairesExternal site, news release, Montréal, October 1, 2008. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009, Web site available in French only.

26. Desrochers v. Canada (Industry), 2009 SCC 8, at paras. 51 and 53.

27. Place aux jeunes du Québec, Mission et objectifsExternal site. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009, (Web site available in French only).

28. Place aux jeunes du Québec, Rapport annuel 2007-2008External site, Québec City, 2008, p. 18. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009, (Web site available in French only).

29. Place aux jeunes du Québec, Une communauté rurale de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador s’inspire de Place aux jeunes pour contrer l’exode des jeunesExternal site, news release, Québec City, November 26, 2008. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009, (Web site available in French only).

30. For example, the Federal Court of Canada, the Tax Court of Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal or the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

31. Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Shadows over the Canadian Television Landscape: The Place of French on the Air and Production in a Minority Context, Ottawa, 2009. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

32. Charles Landry, The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators, London (UK), Earthscan Publications Ltd., 2000, pp. 9–11.

33. Commissioner of Official Languages, Review of English- and French-Language Broadcasting Services in Offi cial Language Minority Communities, notes for an appearance before the CRTC public hearing, Ottawa, January 16, 2009. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

34. There are few sectors where it is as important to receive services in one’s own language as in the health sector. In fact, by using the patient’s language to provide care, health care professionals contribute to the patient’s well-being and increase the likelihood that the care they give will be eff ective. On this subject, see especially Elizabeth Jacobs, “The Need for More Research on Language Barriers in Health Care: A Proposed Research Agenda,” Milbank QuarterlyExternal site. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

35. Letter from Ontario’s French Language Services Commissioner sent on November 12, 2008, to the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term CareExternal site. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

36. Jean-Pierre Corbeil, Claude Grenier and Sylvie Lafrenière, Minorities Speak Up: Results of the Survey on the Vitality of Official-Language Minorities, Ottawa, Statistics Canada, 2006, p. 133.

37. Ibid.

38. Carsten Quell, “Researching the New Diversity of Francophone Minority Communities,” Canadian Issues / Thèmes canadiens, Spring 2008, p. 6.

39 David Johnston, “‘Cultural shiftExternal site’ made English more acceptable,” The Gazette, January 29, 2009. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

40. Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat, Striving for Enhanced Partnership on the Canadian FrancophonieGovernment site, news release, Ottawa, September 18, 2008. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

41. House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages, The Collaboration Accords Between Canadian Heritage and the Community Organizations – An Evolving PartnershipGovernment site, Ottawa, 2008. On-line version consulted March 31, 2009.

42. Ibid., p. 12.

43. Ibid., p. 14.



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