Standing Committee on Official Languages (LANG)

This week, the committee continued its Evaluation of the Roadmap: Improving Programs and Service Distribution. In Tuesday’s meeting, we had Presentations from the Department of Justice, Health Canada and Statistics Canada. The Department of Justice has initiatives to increase the capacity to provide access to justice in either official language. This includes training of law students in French legal terms, and availability of laws (both provincial and federal) in both languages. Health Canada is mostly concerned with the access to health care in either official language. Statistics Canada was very informative, as they have concrete numbers on populations and language use, etc. For example, minority Anglophone communities still use their mother tongue 50% of the time outside of the House, whereas less than 30% of minority francophone communities speak French outside the home. The committee sat in camera (in private) for the last 5 minutes of the meeting.

On March 1st, the committee heard testimonies from the Department of Human Resources, Canada school of Public Services, and the Treasury Board Secretariat. The Department of Human Resources provides support for organisations promoting the use of official languages in minority situations. They have invested 69$ million over the past 5 years in the Roadmap project. They also spoke of pilot projects in schools, which yielded positive results, to support minority official language communities. Canada school for Public Services strives to “foster a culture of bilingualism across the public service, and contribute to better service to Canadians.” This group focuses mainly on second-language teaching in schools, so that there are more bilingual students entering the workforce. The treasury board provides lateral support for other federal institutions for providing services in both official languages.